Expressing the inexpressable

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Music. It calls to me. There’s something visceral about it. It grabs me and twists my gut, weaving its way into my subconscious. Songs stick in my mind, they refuse to leave, perfect ear worms. The above song, “Speedway” by Morrissey is one of these songs (I can’t help it. I move to the UK and I develop a love of the Smiths and Morrissey’s solo stuff). I listen to his stuff while working; I find it to be just the sort of thing I need to get focused.

But enough on Morrissey (for this post).

Music in itself. I find myself drawn to it, perhaps more than any other art form (strange, for a writer/painter/graphic designer). I’m stopped by its sheer incredibility. The range of emotions, the sense of calm, fear, love evoked by notes expresses the human condition more than words or paintings ever could.

To quote Aldous Huxley, “After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

The past few months have been difficult ones for me. The coursework has been particularly strenuous in a different way from last term. My health hasn’t been the best (nothing serious, just atrocious colds and uncomfortable back injuries). Things haven’t been going as I had hoped–not poorly, but not as well as my internal narrative wanted.

The other day, I went into St Giles Cathedral to look around. A string quartet practiced for the evening performance. As the violin sang out, the cello setting a steady pace, my heart soared, leaped, fell, felt, repeated. The starting and stopping as the musicians ran through their piece struck me. It was, in its imperfection, exactly as I felt. There was joy, frustration, repetition.

Words failed me. Visual arts failed me. Yet music fit where no other expression would. It was fleeting, yet permanent, the memory to be one of the strongest I have.

My strongest memories are tied around music. The two best concerts I’ve been to have had moments of transcendence–from the Who, when Roger Daltrey sang portions of Tommy, a medley that meant so much to me, given that I had listened to that album ad nauseum the summer before. The second was the Swell Season, when Glen Hansard got the audience to join in on the chorus of ‘Back Broke.’ The effect was haunting, uniting, beautiful. For moments at both of these gigs, the music transcended. That’s all that mattered.

On charity and The Who

General Geekiness

The Who just finished their first tour of Australia in 40 years; fans have used this occasion to raise money for people in Victoria whose lives have been affected by the recent bush fires.

One member of the fan club made the quilt (by hand!) and got in touch with a few other members, and then Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. Pete and Roger agreed to autograph the quilt, which is being sold on eBay.

All proceeds go to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal.

I probably won’t post other things like this, but I felt that more people should know about this. It is a wonderful example of people working together to make a difference.

My latest discovery

General Geekiness
Photo taken by Ben Parks

Photo taken by Ben Parks

I like collecting LPs. I don’t actually own a turntable, but there’s something very special about going into a record shop and finding something that you didn’t expect to.

The other day I came across this LP, the soundtrack to the cult classic Quadrophenia, based on the Who album of the same name.

Quadrophenia holds a special place in my heart, both the album and the movie. The album because it’s one of my favorites, if not my favorite. The movie? Well, I’m enamored with mods and rockers.

Also, the movie showcases Brighton, England, as the heart of the mod-rocker fight in May 1964.

The photo is actually one of the back of the album; I really like the pier in the background and Jimmy in the foreground–the picture is very pretty, and instantly pulls you in.

In this age of mp3s and iPods, being able to hold something in your hands, to hold music between your fingers, is a wonderful thing. There is little joy to be found upon discovering a song on iTunes, but to find an album in a record shop? Now, that’s something to smile about.

More on the Who, and a little on St. Patrick’s Day

General Geekiness

The Who go Irish?

Roger Daltrey and John Entwistle team up with the Chieftains and play an Irishy acoustic version of “Behind Blue Eyes.”

There’s something refreshing and different about the song. Just makes me sigh and smile. Of course, the original version is still one of my all-time favorites, but this one is very pretty. Could be all of the Irish music I listened to during my brief stint as a step dancer.

I’d never heard that version of the song before and thought it was lovely, so, I had to share. Thoughts?

On the Who

General Geekiness

My love for The Who began in my senior year of high school. It was a long, slow process, this becoming attuned to a “new” band, but it seemed like the world was kicking me in the seat of my pants to listen to them.

My first encounter was the summer before senior year. I was at a Shakespearean acting camp, and as luck would have it, I wore my Beatles shirt the same day as my friend Nick wore his Who shirt. “Who are they?” I asked. Nick listed their most famous songs–“Baba O’Riley,” “Pinball Wizard,” etc–and I stared at him like an idiot.

Flash forward three months. I sat in art class, and my teacher played The Who to get himself psyched for their concert. I liked it enough, but didn’t think anything of it.

A couple months later I was looking online at Beatles and Queen fan art, when I noticed a few of the artists also drew The Who. Intrigued, I went to the library and listened to a few Who albums–Greatest Hits, Tommy and Quadrophenia. With the opening notes of Tommy‘s “Overture” I was hooked.