Tag Archives: music
a melodic word
this is my anthem, sing it
rhythmic piece of me
here is a small selection of my words, my anthems,
songs I love more than anything else.
“they don’t know what it’s like to love one band, one silly piece of music so much that it hurts” – Almost Famous
So I’ve been holed up in my loungeroom for the past week, studying for exams, drinking herbal tea and eating coffee ice cream and listening to this album on repeat. I can’t quite pinpoint why, but I think this is perfect for this week’s theme; something about the way she sings unnerves me but I can’t stop listening to it. And the album as a whole just has such a beautiful narritive quality, as each song unfolds so perfectly into the next. My favourite line is probably from the song ‘You Know’, which I’ve posted below. Seriously you guys, her lyrics are like poetry.
“And I was so sure,
but you free wheelin’ troubadour,
you took my mind off the scene”
It is remarkably silly that I suggested last week’s theme, sage, and am only responding to it now, a day overdue. It turns out that the biggest reason I chose that word – that it is full of possibilities – is what has held me back most of all. There is just so much to write about! When I think of sage, I consider my mother’s home in the high deserts of New Mexico, my favorite pizza at the place where Dylan and Baez used to sing together, my first year of college when a friend used a smudge stick in her room – something I should have done that year, even though the green linoleum and cinder blocks had made everything seem all the more hopeless. The word came to me as I was trying to think of ways to purify and detox different aspects of my life – the way I eat, naturally, but also in my habits as a writer, as a student, as a sometimes insomniac, and as a grown-up (a title I will have to live up to one of these days).
In an effort to home in on an aspect of sage that inspired me to share something here, I looked up the healing properties of the herb. A homeopath might recommend it for any number of my chronic physical complaints, but what struck me most of all was what it can do for the mind. It is an anti-depressant, it eases the pain of grief, it calms a hyperactive mind. And it’s used in all different ways to heal wounds, physical or emotional – as a tincture to be taken, a scent to be drawn in with a deep breath, and as a salve spread on a burn.
In my life what I have used most to calm my mind is music, and these days the music that works the best feels like a salve. I love music that washes over you, tingles, massages the scalp in slow ripples. A friend told me not long ago that my taste in music is too slow, boring. And, barring the fact that he ignored my penchant for 60s pop and anything good for dancing like a fool, I can almost see where he’s coming from. But he doesn’t need to be entranced in a beautiful sound that is almost as natural is nighttime rain on a window, or lyrics that are as musical as the instruments that accompany them. When I need to be calmed I listen to Andrew Bird and get lost in his labyrinthine words, or I listen to Nico and imagine the shadows of the clouds over the heathered hills of Tralee.
When I lived in France, I came home from a long trip to Scotland and felt broken. That’s how homesick I was. And I felt so helpless, and no matter how anxious and sad and useless I made myself, I couldn’t bring myself to sleep. Until I listened to Simon and Garfunkel.
When I listened to them at first I was brought back to those nights when I was 13 and just started slacking off in school, almost always feeling like my mind could be read. The anxiety that I put myself through then so that I would have more time to – not do homework, at any rate. I drove myself crazy, afraid that I would be found out, as a liar and a constant daydreamer, all the while listening to what is still my favorite of their albums, “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.” The effect of songs like, “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her” was the same as what I look for now when I have a glass of wine and stare into the fire after dinner. It washed away the gadflies of the day, and propelled my daydreams upward with a buzzing hopeful feeling – all mental flight.
That blanket of a Lyonnais January, unseasonably cold and grey and sparse, was sometimes hard to endure, but that loneliness and uselessness was salved by a healthy dose of acoustic guitar and hushed harmony. And from listening to Simon and Garfunkel I progressed to watching Woody Allen movies, laughing, pining for New York if you can believe it, and from there I could start to plan my next adventures – Ireland, and home. School, and the writing that I had ignored that whole year.
And so this week when I think of sage it is only natural that I think of Simon and Garfunkel. And I leave you with what I still think is one of the loveliest songs ever written.
This post was inspired by the playlist that Jessa made for this week’s theme. Music transports me to another plane of conciousness, and it got me thinking about the places that I go when I listen to these kinds of songs. So here’s a playlist I have made of tunes that take me out of the grind and into other worlds of magic, beauty, light and darkness.
Sigur Ros: Saegolpur
I am walking through a forest covered in snow. I can hear the crunching of it under my feet, and there are crows above me in the trees, their eyes to the sky and their beaks open and they are making the strangest noises, of static, of clocks ticking.
There are shapes moving in between the trees, dark shapes with glowing green eyes.
As I approach them, moving deeper into the thicker parts of the forest, they begin to move faster, circling me, faster and faster until my feet are lifted off the ground. I am born up through the canopy by the mysterious shapes, and soon I am flying, over snow-capped mountains, across forest, and ocean.
I am so overwhelmed by the beauty of it all that I do not notice we are being chased. Bright colours are exploding around us, clouds of dust like the ones you see in India. The sky cracks open with thunder and lightning, and all that I feel in that moment swells up in my chest and bursts forth from my mouth.
The shapes that bore me lay me down gently on the peak of the highest mountain, and I am watching them leave with the piece of my soul in tow.
I am waving goodbye.
Yes Anastasia: Tori Amos
I am running. Through streets of a city that I know but the streets does not look familiar to me. My dress is red silk but it is torn in many places and my hair is long, falling out and down my back. I am climbing over fences and through people’s backyards and my hands are streaked with blood and mud. I reach the edge of the city, where the old, stone sewers meet the ocean. I climb up to the lip of the sewer, and turn to face my pursuer; I can barely make him out in the darkness; I see red eyes, steam rising from his nostrils, and his feet, which shine in the moonlight but look more like hooves than polished leather shoes.
I take a breath, and dive heard first into the sea.
Shake It Out: Florence and the Machine
I am at a party and I am the only human being there. There are foxes dressed like the 10th Doctor, wolves dressed in leather jackets and combat boots, birds of paradise wearing nothing but jewels and lace and panther wearing an authentic Japanese silk kimono. I am wearing a peacock green dress with real feathers in my hair. We are all drinking champagne and dancing like wild animals.
Running Up That Hill: Kate Bush
All I see when I listen to this song is this. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Dirty Paws: Of Monsters and Men
This is such a story song that I am always transported to the world of the creatures of snow. Listen to it and then tell me what the world looks like for you.
Urge for Going: Joni Mitchell
I am sitting on the roof my house watching the seasons change. There is a weather vein with a large golden angel top it. It turns to face me when there is a north easterly wind.
I am watching people come and go; it is winter now, and some of the people are leaving to chase down the summer. I want to follow them but I can’t, because the angel hasn’t given me my wings yet.
Bloodbuzz Ohio: The National
I have the ability to dissolve my body into a cloud of free particles that move about like a swarm of bees, and I use this power to travel the world.
The Gentle Roar: Niki and the Dove
I am a street urchin living on an abandoned train platform, and we’re performing a ritual dance to protect us from an unknown darkness hiding in the tunnels. There is a fire burning and the air smells sweet and we have painted sigils on each other, talismans for protection with glow in the dark paint.