Saturday, June 13, 2015

Watching One Trick Pony at night circa 2006, hanging on every frame, acquiescing at the message of artistic purity and to thyself being true. All this, but to wake up early the next morning and carefully dress and prepare for work. How very rock 'n roll, I remember thinking.

My emotional reaction to popular song is so varied that I think any concise summary of what the music is "about" can automatically be dismissed. But we can certainly identify some common threads and themes. Here's one: Defiance, be it artistic, political, spiritual, emotional. Rallying against injustice, or ignorance, taking a stand against the march of time, or man. So much of the mythology is built around specific instances of this: acts to free the body, substances to free the mind.

What does it mean, then, that I find myself at once so taken with the music, and yet live a life that is the complete opposite of what it prescribes?

The obvious response -- that it offers me something I secretly aspire to -- is, I can confidently say, plainly wrong. I'm rather comfortable with the principles I've chosen. In fact, sometimes, I suspect my feelings for those who've sold their life to the music is something close to pity. Wastrels, I secretly think, chasing something ephemeral. In fact, life on the straight and narrow is not as bad as they might imagine. Yes, it's not just a purpose, but imagination they lack.

This probably also explains why I respond to a certain strain of country music -- Puritan values, and the damnation that comes from straying away from them. Life spent in fear of a moral code, where Defiance is not against the mere laws of man, but against God, and also, an Idea. Freedom of the spirit, rather than the body or mind. A much better deal, because as those ever-wise wordsmiths reminded us, freedom sometimes isn't all that different from having nothing left to lose.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Love Goes On!

There's a cat in my alleyway.

Six words, and in my head I instantly finish the tune, the song, the album. It's the voice, I think -- the plaintive tone, and the vaguely tragic image of that poor tabby lying denied of its only reason to rise and face the day, that gets to me. I know this feeling, I know it from before -- the resigned pessimism of "You're a Big Girl Now", the harmonica weeping as Nick Cave farewells "Lucy", Lou Reed's sad embrace of the night on "After Hours" -- I remember the time when these sounds and words built up a fantastical inner world, with reams of lyrics and lines saved up for the occasion I would need them. (Knowing what I do, now I wish only that I had collected even more.)

I won't say all that time spent in devotion to song was right and proper. But I liked those silent times spent in thought. I also won't claim they signify a depth of feeling forbidden to others. But I can say that they signify a sustained intensity of feeling that I haven't seen put on display by anyone else. So while I'm not against opening up, doing so all at once might be something the world is not ready for. All I can do is drop hints, leave a trail that leads to the secret life I have been living for so long, and ask those I know: is this really a door you want opened? What you'll find is no enlightenment, nor particular insight into my world or person. But if purity of feeling is worth as much as purity of thought, I have something wondrous to show you.