Stop, Drop and Rick-Roll

An introspective uncoiling of scattered thoughts erupted from a well deep within myself. I do not know the measurement nor its vast totality beyond the bottom of the sea in me. Perhaps that’s doing me a favor in the end- and to that end, that favor connects truth with an uneasiness I must accept rather than own the allowance of belief. The coils spring up like sudden butterflies and compress downward like music that needs to finally be faced. They are a mechanism that serves as a pseudo-spine for support when my guts come undone. Hard facts and cool reasoning make a certain science of the coils in me and when magnified, they show the aftermath of trauma and scars that ordinarily are hidden. They are masks for my insides and conceal all I need to keep tightly wound. At first, a casual glance may render their appearance similar to familiar, tidy DNA strands; each blood-rich chord secures the vault of all deep-rooted truth within me. Tucked neatly away, they are labeled and named with purpose. Enclosed are encoded meanings and truths and the prediction of the probability of lies and all else that lie ahead. Those strands tell all in a well-contained, orderly manner to the passers-by.

How does this have any correlation to music? My answer is simply, because it does and my hope is that I can plug the wires into that place to illuminate the music in me. That’s the only true light. The only certainty I have of all the uncertain entities that lie in wait to self-discovery or self-destruction. This is a vital sign and a silent hope that I’ll be spared the flatline of fracturing my timeless connection to music, those who make it, fake it and hold it sacred. We are all just a thin-skinned cut away from the red permanence and visual expression of how a song or isolated lyric can be just that without further explanation. Perhaps he or she (your own personal Jesus) is a rock god elevated by more than a stage built higher than you in your prized front row seat.

If one is brave enough to go “digging in the dirt” there is a thinning blanket of safe assumption selling out right under the very soles of our shoes. The only false security between our soles and the eager-to-bloom truth separates us WITH music, from the many memories that have return home to live inside of us. All are boxed and stored and out of our hindsight when we turn the music up. We have to because it’s the only known anti-venom that counteracts the uninvited return of all suppressed, undressed and undecorated ghosts that return home, without any heavy medal of honor.
The footing over the dirt is secure enough and safely hides everything we need to bury. It hurts to reveal just a mere fraction of the quarter, half and eventually whole notes that paint it black outwardly.

I was genuinely excited and ready to contribute my point of view about “music” when invited to do so by a friend whom I consider to be THE go-to guy on all subjects musical from Solomon Burke and The Ramones (please note that’s not the name of a new band) to all things Elvis, Johnny Cash and Wolfman Jack. He and I share the same “MOO, or Methods Of Organization” regarding our music catalogs and have discussed the panic we feel when there is just one “t” or “I” we know still needs to be crossed and dotted. Others are comfortable offering a more broad, main-stream, anagram to describe how we preserve our beloved tracks. O.C.D., they say. If that stands for Order, Controlled and Detailed about our music, then we’ll wear that badge as well. Obsessed? Yep. He, infinitely more than I, but passion for how this “drug” hits us is identical regardless of the name-brand of the medicine. In any derivative, it WORKS. In anyone’s realm of reality, its effects are guaranteed and it has no shelf-life. It doesn’t dilute and lose the one strand of recognition from generation to generation. Its ever present power to heal waits indefinitely with patience when you, the patient, need to feel fixed.

From in utero and beyond, its vibrations can be felt, measured, and heard by the beginnings of our rock-n-roll souls. Already calming, soothing, while we’re jumping and grooving, keeping in mind this is all BEFORE we are able to speak. Before we know how to buy a ticket online to a show, before we know if we’ll want D.L.R. Van Halen forever or if we’ve accepted and made our peace with Sammy Hagar. Before we know if we’re just a gigalo or we wish to be a California guuuuuurl. Either way, behind the scenes, hearing music before we know it has a name and when it dropped and how it sounds when it speeds up or slows down our first introduction to the drum beats heard directly from our mother’s heart. No matter how you feel about your mother’s heart, what beat you hear and the gentle moves and swaying all enclosed in moments of safety that is never a promise in life as soon as you take your first breath.

At first I was nervous and hesitant to respond enthusiastically because I could not offer anything more than he would in terms of trivia, history, knowledge, etc. This would not be a place where I’d come in, vinyl in hand and be greeted by eager ears open and ready to ingest my words. In terms of my limitations, speaking “volumes” about music is easy in terms of buttons and knobs and dials. He assured me that I didn’t have to know everything from the beginning. That gave me the confidence I needed to convince myself that my cliff notes version would be just that and somehow palatable in the end.

I waited quite a while to think of an approach to this request and deliver something readable from me, a second-hand music encyclopedia with a garage sale price tag. I thought I had it when I recalled a time I was brave enough to challenge him on a music trivia question I KNEW I knew and he swore he’d win. The result: I won and he didn’t take it well until he looked it up himself and even then I didn’t win-WIN. Reason being, is that now would be the most prosperous time of all to remember the EXACT details of the bet, presented with both sides claim of truth and polish it with a fantastically explosive DIRECT quote from him the moment he knew he lost. That would have been my “free pass” and all the blog-cred I’d ever need to actually contribute something with value.

Since the only memory of my triumph over the musical wizard of OZ, ozzy and other heartless, roaring lions that rock, is that I won-I can’t ride lucky lightening here because the details have been deleted. It’s the david and goliath story which can safely cut to the chase and look at the last page to learn that the little david beat the musical giant, goliath and in a haze, he can’t remember which rock he used to roll the big and mighty.

So, I’m left to do what I do best and that’s to blabber incessantly about my feelings on music. Inside the rule-book of blabber, there aren’t many rules so I’m comfortable now approaching this like a quiz in school where the teacher would gently say, “take your time and remember, there is no right or wrong answer.” Without having to carry around the, always-accurate-musical-archive-attache, my shoulders relax a bit and I go back to my happy place without right or wrong answers. That place where all I had to offer was opinion and subjectivity fenced neatly around one of the things I’m most passionate about. M U S I C. Easy A you say? I did too until I tried to proceed and then I had to stop.

I realized how much truth is hidden in complex orchestrations, supremely extreme guitar shredding-solos and tender doo-wop-melodies, diner style. I heard my musical life pass like liquid velvet through my ears and then fragments and descriptions became clustered in a crescendo of clips of life tied in to the songs I was hearing. Long gone, were the A-B-C’s easy as 1-2-3’s of writing about something so close to me that I lost time. I lost time in a cacophony of chaotic passion that I’d never attempted to decode. Was the music and the passion I feel for it only mine and therefore it would only matter in my mind and in the subtext or in my interpretation?

I was enjoying the songs floating through my mind and it felt so warm as each passed, buttoned to a polaroid of a memory in my life. If only life, memories, passion, anger, rage, tears, fears, anxiety could all be tempered with the song of our choosing, what a wonderful world this would be. The confusion happened soon after as I searched for a skip button when a song would waterfall through me and I had no bucket inside of me to safely collect it. Suddenly, there was no way to “keep a close watch on this heart of mine.” The very same catalogs of precision, time, well-thought out placement and schemas of organization like that of my iTunes collection that I beam with pride over the ease of use I made it eventually reveal. I realized a pang of discomfort because the act of answering my own self-imposed question about my very favorite subject…music, was left a mess, inside cemented memories with demented categories. WAIT! I don’t like this. I didn’t leave a usable system in place to make the functionality and ease of use with a code-written archive view to give ME the control back.

THAT’S the passion. That’s the freedom music feeds us. That’s where we falsely backwards-dive into unknown pools of emotion. Inside music is where we stop pulling over in our life and asking for directions. We need no signs, arrows, nor shoes on our feet because inside music, we surrender. We give ourselves openly whether live at a stadium show, closely circled around in an acoustic setting or maybe on the floor of our closets on Saturday when instead of cleaning, we listened to Kasey Kasem give us gravely bits about a new artist. That feeling propels and instigates the rush of “the numb.” Whether we got rick-rolled back in real time, with eager purpose, music, as Mr. Astley said and I paraphrase, “will never give you up. will never let you down, will never run-around, hurt, or desert you. According to his lyrical testament, we can safely assume music will never tell us lies or say good-bye. All Rick. All true. All things that soulful singer we could only hear but not see, unknowingly laid down a sturdy foundation with pop-punctuation as a loosely-based pledge those who make and deliver music hope to accomplish. Rick Astley himself IS (follow me here) music represented in the formulation of nothing tactile of him to claim over the Kasey-controlled radio waves. Music, like Rick, dared us to “listen without prejudice,” many decades before it was accepted to publicly admit, support or be a fan of music made by “certain artists.”

Ahh, yes, we are indeed fans afterall and the intensity of the brain’s response and relayed euphoria we experience is the potent, addicting numbness that spins us right round, completing the pleasure cycle. Each needle’s pointy descension down, down, down onto a vinyl record’s burning ring of fire, provokes a Pavlovian-type response in me. This is all the proof I can provide to declare that for me, music IS sex. It IS drugs and rock ‘n roll. Think of your most private, decadent, intimate moments in your life. You should be able to remember the experience well but you can’t imagine those brief, fleeting highs and lows,without being able to name the song that played-seering a forever brand of that memory. Music doesn’t need sex but the question is, does sex need music? To clarify, I’m using the word, “sex” to convey and conjure the sparks and chills and the obsessive need that music is and how it elevates and magnifies the pleasures and release of the silent heaviness we at times repress and deny. Within the walls of sound, we’re naked and we wrap ourselves in the shields of sound. At times we have most intimate moments happen between ourselves and a particular song. When we lie alone at times, music is the one to hold your hand. Lyric layers pile up and begin to supply a safe house for feelings we own but aren’t recognizable. The comfort comes within feeling that the song vacuums us up in a temporary space where we can be our most authentic selves. It’s a cureall and without it, imagining the darkest hues of misunderstanding each other and ourselves is a hellish slice of existence I’d rather NEVER to meet its acquaintance.

Music is heart help and a piercing of the veil just small enough to let you breathe in deeply. It lets just enough light in to appear like the exhale we sometimes need. The words are often used like little promises to ourselves that feel manageable as long as the song remains the same.
Oftentimes silently and globally our feelings cannot be reached or translated but the music can at least kiss the wounded, transcend genre, popularity, stupid-radio play, big arenas, time-span whether as a part of a band’s career or as a solo artist.

On the topic of music I was (for the first time) speechless in my fingers. I write. That’s what I do. Yet it almost felt overwhelming to write ABOUT music. I know you must think, this chick is nuts, (and I wouldn’t completely argue that point) but the seemingly breezy task of combining my passion for both music and writing made this rush of urgency come over me with demands that I do it justice and it short-circuited my brain. I know I’m not alone when I declare that I could talk about music forever. All of the little moments and big ones vary so much from person to person, but the one commonality is that there IS a soundtrack to life. When you love it and it’s in your blood, it never truly ceases to share its own breathing alongside yours. It may have different tracks that fit each frame of your life and perhaps the volume adjusts but music is my peace, my medicine, my teacher, my inspiration, and as dramatic as it may sound, I would literally die without it. I have been through some things in my life and the ONLY way I knew I had made it out alive is when I noticed I was singing again. If that facet of my day and nights (yes, I sleep with my iPod all night) did not exist, I don’t want to imagine the next day. I know this is a novel and I’ve yet to utter a word about any specific groups or singers that I love, but going back a bit into my archive made me notice something I don’t think I’d observed consciously before. Most of my favorite artists were and still are, larger than life and had fans and stardom and fame that stood the test of time even posthumously. What a beautiful revelation I had when linking some of my favorite artists with known facts sensationalized over their careers and lives. I noticed was how small I imagine some of them felt no matter how big they look to the rest of us. In some of their faces, I saw a sadness and a quiet acceptance of living while perhaps being misunderstood. I saw beauty and joy in the throes of their performances or during times they wrote and built our “addictions” from the ground floor up. I know personally that being an artist is torture because the root of that need to create doesn’t always align with your intent how the world sees it. Their music and personal memories and experiences shared are like their babies that they love and in a way, give away each time there is an audience to receive it. The beauty is that within the strict, fenced-in confines of sheet music and theory in black and white, every single pair of ears is taking in one piece of their soul that they share and we all leave taking that and storing it as a way to speak for something that perhaps before then, was too difficult to say.

Thirty Seconds To Mars – End Of All Days

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1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Loved it, awesome job putting your (our) feelings in words. Coming from someone who would never be able to do this. Hope to hear much more from you.

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