This… I cannot tell you how intensely personal this song is to me, but I will try. “Sweet Love” did not reach out and grab me immediately, but this song right here… I heard it and I was gone, literally gone. Like as in I left the house to go to the music store, remember them? I believe it was Sam Goody at the time… I had to go there and get the sheet music for this song. This was back before I realized I had an ear and I was so naive that I thought that everyone who played music read music. Anyway, I digress…

The goal was simple: I wanted to play this song on the piano. I wanted be able to play along with Anita and her band. I wanted to be able to borrow my buddy’s Yamaha DX7 and put it on the Crystal EP setting and be in the band. This was something that I wanted to do, I had to do, but I had one problem at the time: My piano skills were somewhat lacking.

Oh I did have the advantage of having piano lessons early on beginning at 5 but the lessons didn’t last long, but I had learned to read music and I retained the skill so that when I started playing alto saxophone at 10 the first couple of years were somewhat breezy because I knew how to read music, I just needed to work on the muscle memory, breathing and the ever present embouchure.

Fast forward to my High School years, still playing horn and every so often picking out the odd melody or chord on the out of tune family piano, I was curious and I always told myself that I would play piano in a real way, someday.

I arrived at the mall, walked into the store and immediately headed to the sheet music section. I spied that iconic photo on the cover of the Rapture Album, grabbed the book and was pleased that someday I would be able to learn the entire album not just my favorite song. Went to the register plunked down my $3.95 or whatever it was, and headed back out of the mall the whole time looking at the music to see what I was up against.

Once I arrived I set about learning this music on the out of tune family piano that was madd sharp. I didn’t care, plus I really didn’t have any other options at that time. It was going to be me and this music for as long as it was going to take. I knew the protestations would come after a while from the parents, and they did. I could move the shedding into the basement like I did with the saxophone, so they would just have to protest and we would just have to be at odds until the work was through.

It took a while. I had zero technique on the piano so coordinating the left and right hands took a minute. I took the song a section at a time learning the right hand, then the left hand, then both together. All the while I was actually memorizing the song, so by the time I had made it through the entire song several weeks later with both hands it was memorized.

Eventually, I was ready. It might have been a rehearsal, or it could have been during a break at school in the band room. If it was the band room at school I was definitely living dangerously because playing that piano could cause some problems, but wherever it was I had to share with my musician friends that I finally got it. From the opening chord and that famous line, I played it note for note and the debut was met with nods of approval and it was one of the first times that I had the feeling that what I heard on the radio, or saw on a video was accessible, it was within reach to play.

For the next couple of years as I became even more curious about playing piano and especially curious about writing songs, I took everything I learned from “Caught Up In The Rapture”. From the way I approached voicing a chord, to how I favored descending ii-V’s these were all lessons I learned sitting at the out-of-tune piano. I did eventually get to play the song on the DX7 and it sounded pretty close to the record and that experience helped me to connect the dots concerning the right tool for the job.

I hadn’t planned on taking up so much space for something that may seem insignificant to some but it’s everything to me. The reason that the experience means so much and this song means so much to me is that I can literally put to it on a map of my life and say this is when you got serious about your craft young man.

In learning this music, I went through the full gamut of emotions: It was not all ice cream and peach cobbler by any stretch of the imagination. Many days I wanted just say forget it, I’m never going to get this. I don’t have this, I don’t have that and on and on. But for some reason I would continue to push myself until I would have a small breakthrough here and there that would make me feel that tomorrow could be better than today if I just stayed focused.

This is why we do this music. It is an urge a desire that is in the depths of your soul that you have to feed or you will starve. When I went through this process at 17 and even when I do it at my advanced age now (lol) it comes from the same place. Some days I just wish they would take money completely out of the equation when it comes to music because I would love to see who’d still be involved. Not that we don’t need the money for survival, I’m talking money as the sole motivating factor behind your creativity and money as the sole barometer of the success of your creativity. In those inimitable words fashioned by so many these days: When it comes to judging someone’s musical validity on how much they have sold or made… “You can miss me with that right there”.

We have set aside this month to celebrate the music of Anita Baker and I know that my story is surely one of thousands that can stand as a testament to the power of music. Something that may seem as simple as a 4 min and some second song literally has the power to change a life. That’s why those of us who are really about this music have a responsibility not only to ourselves and our loved ones, but to the entire universe, because ultimately what we put out will come back. The power is there to be productive or destructive, “Caught Up In The Rapture” helped to produce my life’s journey in music, what will the music you produce or you listen to do?

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.