Breathing music – part I

I have a generic “about me” entry on my social media accounts, not that I have many accounts. It basically states how my life is a musical and how I will not only have a song in my head all the time but if there’s static then I inevitably create one. You should hear my ‘washing dishes’ song; classic. But knowing this, I’m sure it won’t shock you to find I have created a playlist to suit most any and every mood and emotion. Yet, I find music can so easily change my state of emotive response, even if for a moment, so does that make my playlists redundant?

Music has always been a key part of my life. Somehow I don’t play any instruments, dabbled in guitar in year 12, but felt like a fraud among all those people who were in the ‘Introduction to Guitar’ class just because they needed somewhere to be. Never mind the fact they could already play and had been for years. So I quietly slunk into the shadows and never returned. But I always had the music of others to complete me, so my dreams of playing any one of a myriad of instruments got put to the side.

The word ‘eclectic’ sounds a tad poncy to me, but I also like it. Particularly as it is the correct term to use in best describing my musical tastes. Having been raised in a house with a never-ending soundtrack, it’s little wonder that music plays such a big part in my state of being. My mum worshipped at the church of Graceland, stopping at the church of Springsteen on the way. Beach Boys and Chris Rea would also appear, but mum would listen to anything with a beat or with some soul. Any wonder I adore Elvis and Springsteen myself and class Rea’s Let’s Dance as one of my favourite ‘happy’ songs.

There’s something, the concept of the ‘happy’ song. I have a long list of titles that inspire in me the notion of pure joy, yet not all of them are created as uplifting songs, it’s just how my brain and my heart interpret them. Like Springsteen; the lyrics of Born to Run and Atlantic City are not exactly about sunshine and lollipops, and with Atlantic City, the music isn’t even close to uplifting. Yet these are two of my favourite Boss songs, some of my favourite all time songs, and they lift me off my feet. How though? When they are songs about being stuck and trying to bust out, why do they instil in me such a feeling of joy and weightlessness? It occurs in so many other pieces of musical genius too, Foo Fighters February Stars, The Cure Letter To Elise and Cut Here. You Am I’s How Much is Enough. So much more supposedly melancholy in tone or lyric, but that lift me into the sun.

My theory is that I somehow take in every iota that makes up each song, and my inbuilt music computer interprets each particle in an emotion scanner. So I am registering the entirety of the song on a conscious, or, more likely, subconscious, level. I particularly respond to music that builds in tension or tempo. The art of scaling up the sound in such a way that you feel it in your blood is such a gift, I envy those who possess the ability.

Then there is music that is meant to punch you in the gut and make you weep a little and take your breath away; The Drugs Don’t Work by The Verve is one, Trust by The Cure another. Laura by Bat For Lashes just tears me apart. I recognise that at times, like with The Drugs Don’t Work, or Let There Be Love by Oasis, they are designed to create that stirring of emotion deep within. That although the great Noel Gallagher tries to create that uplift in the bridge, the ultimate feeling of the song is of a hopelessness reaching for something, you just don’t know what or whom.

I find it interesting that my emotional responses will even contradict themselves. That I can listen to February Stars and be brought to my knees in pure joy, ripping into the sky with my air drums, holding out my arms to thank the music gods for the grace of Grohl, and that there are days I encounter this song and I only hear the raw intensity of lyric and vocals. It is this point that I am transcended to another plane altogether. It does not alter me as drastically as it once did, but I can now FEEL without being altered for an ongoing period.

 

Such aural delights, both high and low, are what make up my days, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Until next time, when I discuss further this musical metamorphosis, have you ever noticed alterations in mood from music? If so, do you use it as a life wellbeing strategy?

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