I used to sit in my room and listen to music for hours and hours. I know this is not an uncommon story. Teenagers sitting in their rooms listening to music and daydreaming. It’s part of what makes music such an important part of the human condition. There’s this really important step in our evolution where we are somewhere between the fog of childhood and the sentience of being adult. I saw the world coming at me and felt the weight of what real responsibility was going to feel like. I was not sure of what that really meant. But the most important factor there is that I really still had a sense of wonder and music was magical. And truly music is magical. Don’t believe this? Try to explain exactly what it is that makes a song good.
I think that all of the arts are like this, but music sort of holds this distinction that sets it apart. It’s the only art that combines all of the factors of the other arts. There’s a dramatic factor where everyone is playing a dramatic character. The character may be the same for every song depending on the band, but it’s still there. There’s a visual element. Especially since video, but even without that, you eventually have to stand on stage and do something. For writers, there’s the poetry. Then there’s this additional element of being the only art that is defined by audio events arranged over a specific period of time.
I believe that musicians tend to be more dedicated to artistic integrity than any other art. Part of this is that you have to live with songs forever. As an actor, you can say, “Oh I’m older now. I don’t like that movie (or play) anymore.” An artist says, “Yeah I did that and so and so bought it.” Or, “It hangs in such and such gallery and it is what it is.” A writer says, “Yeah I wrote that and it stands for what it is in my time.” In any other discipline, you might be interviewed or asked about a piece, but you aren’t asked to get up on stage and recreate the entire piece for the millionth time. You write a piece when you are 18 and play it until people like it. If at 25 years old you don’t like the song anymore, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be asked to perform it over and over again.
But there is also this element of 14 year olds sitting in their rooms listening to music. And somehow you have to reach them. Which means that you still have to somehow be connected to the magic that a teenager feels. So to breathe life into 3 or 4 minutes of audio events is a tremendous challenge. There has to be this sort of innocent approach to the fact that magic exists, but music also has to somehow give some room for the pain of letting that magic go. So music is almost in a state of perpetual grief as we all grow up. Simultaneously trying to hang onto our concept of the magical and trying to function in a world that categorically denies it’s existence.
One of the reasons I started this blog is that I started looking at music reviews online. I have yet to find a blog post or magazine review of music that doesn’t leave itself entirely reviewing the music from the perspective of whether it’s “good” or “bad”. There’s this whole “it” factor and whether an act has “it”. Is so-and-so washed up on this record? Maybe this other guy is set to make a comeback. Or the I-don’t-like-this-song-because review. Even if the review is good, it’s just another review that’s a bunch of words that have nothing to do with what someone really thinks or feels. There’s no one out there doing deeply meaningful reviews of music. The reviews all categorically deny the existence of magic.
I’m a singer/song writer as well. I know that writing a song is deeply personal. I also know that there is no other art where people can be so rejecting right off the bat. If there is something wrong with a song, people will tell you about it right away. They are not shy. But even worse, when people like a song, they won’t tell you why. To accomplish any sort of magic in a song, you have to give a lot. You have to take a piece of yourself and put it out there for general consumption. For better or worse. I think if you are going to take the time to do a critique, you should have to get that personal about yourself. In other words, the consumption of art should be an art. Make yourself as vulnerable as the artist.
So I set out to do this. A deeply personal blog entry for 365 songs. I have to say this is incredibly difficult. And finding a song that I can use to get in touch with something deeply personal on a daily basis has been nearly impossible. But I keep thinking about what I want from consumers of my music. I want them to be deeply affected by my music. I want to know that I have not only rendered a change in their consciousness, but that I have actually gotten them in touch with their sense of wonder and an attachment to the magic that really exists all around us.
Soul Meets Body does this for me. I am lying in bed staring at the ceiling and I’m 14. Everything that I have been. Every dream I have ever had. Every crush I have ever had. Every aspiration that I may never reach is terrifying and exhilarating. Every idea that transcends the ordinary. Every childish fear and every adult explanation. I am found in being understood and understanding this music. I am lost in the loneliness of my own pain and longing. But I am filled with the magic of hope and transcendence “where soul meets body…”
“And I do believe it’s true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
But if the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too
So brown eyes I hold you near
Cause you’re the only song I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere”
I want my words to be as meaningful to the musicians as the music has been to me. Because I really want to know that I’ve reached someone. Really touched them. I think it is the aspiration of every musician. Every human. My offering at the altar of music. I hope it is enough.