Two things happened recently to remind me of this fact of how much I love truly great music. I bought some nice headphones...and I inherited a bass guitar.
(Still at the shop being repaired.)
Jonsi-Grow Till Tall
But what is at the heart of music that really grabs you...as an individual?
Years ago a great friend of mine who is a producer said of MTV that the reason they gravitated away from music is how divisive it can be and they can't consolidate their demographic because music so often speaks to the individual.
I can listen to Thom Yorke, Robert Smith, Sigur Ros (*Jonsi seen above), Primus, Richard D. James (*Aphex), Tool, Joy Division, and Tom Waits with almost equal zest. Every last one of those artists probably couldn't be more different but the longer I listen the more patterns I find and the reason I love them all reaffirms why I love great music in the first place. Why we all love our books, movies, t.v. shows, and fiction...we love stories. And great songs are either journey's or stories and for this art form and for me the more abstract the journey the more it becomes a uniquely indescribable adventure into a moment in time otherwise incomparable to anything else. It can barely be described. Being lost in the abstraction of beautiful sounds sober or otherwise is an individual experience. When you are in the moment and truly transfixed by a song there isn't much to say that can intellectualize it even with all the words we seem to know. It's that power of abstraction that takes me away to a point where I realize that there is something more to being human than just existing. If the inevitable is true and we all die and eventually the sun burns out like all great stars do then why do we keep creating such beautiful art if not for the sheer pleasure and sense of awe it gives us.
If you don't like "15 Step" we can't be friends. (Kidding.)
If you don't like "In Between Days" we can't be friends. (Just kidding, lets be friends.)
(I'd suggest listening to these two songs in a row.)
I've been thinking about this for a while...I just inherited a Hofner style bass. The person most famous for playing it is a little obscure musician named Paul McCartney.
It's weird. I never thought of bass as an instrument I'd get into. Until I started thinking about a simple bass lick written that transfixed me and made me fall in love with a band.
This is Peter Hook...the bassist for Joy Division.
But it's songs like this that helped me appreciate the complexity of a bass.
Sigur Ros, Tom Waits, Joy Division, The Cure, Radiohead, Aphex Twin, Philip Glass, Goblin, and so many more are the types of artists that aren't afraid to push their individual styles and sounds to the realm of the surreal and strange to touch that pure umami state of music in your ears that creates a level of bliss other things can't seem to match. You can't explain it, intellectualize it, or even understand it. Great music is at times like a perfect slow kiss. The moment before and the moment after are washings of adrenaline but that moment within the moment, when you lose your sense of time and your grip on reality for the briefest of moments is that pure thing that only music, sex, and truly sublime food can do.
It is said of Orson Wells that he had a disorder that whenever he ate food it wouldn't taste like you and I would taste food, it would taste many many times better and that's why he got so big in his old age. Food was as addictive as any kind of serious drug to him. (That's a legend I heard that I'm still not sure is true. He of course could have just been a big dude in his old age.)
If one could get fat from listening to music all the time you'd have to roll me out of bed every morning.
This scene perfectly encapsulates someone trying to explain why a song moves them. I've always loved it for its complete honesty. It is the greatest representation of this idea in film that I can think of.
Maybe I have a fat soul.
"The only truth is music"