As my dissertation draws into a close (at this point, the thing is printed, bound and submitted), I realized that my odyssey can be recounted in five songs. It’s more the feeling (and title) of the song than the lyrics, but enjoy away.
No class! I can do whatever I want! It’s sunny, I can research outside! Mum and sister are in town, I can take some time off!
Things aren’t going quite as I anticipated…
As the deadlines draw nearer…
16 August 2012
The thing is in…and I am so tired…it’s a cold and its a broken hallelujah…now to recovery and celebrate with the friends I’ve been ignoring for the last few weeks.
And as it finally sets in…
FREEEDOM! Now I’m off to enjoy the sunny weather, the Fringe, and time with friends before I become a responsible adult.
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.
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.
That said, a lot of inspiration can be pulled from music. Inspiration for writing and visual arts, and other music as well.
One of my biggest inspirations is the album Quadrophenia. This was a major influence (along with All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes) on my first novel. I found the ideas expressed on the album weaving their ways through my writing. In the case of the latter, it could have been because I had that album on perpetual repeat during the drafting process.
Quadrophenia in particular provided a lot of ideas because what the main character in the album, Jimmy, goes through similar emotional and personal revelations that my character Will goes through. Isolation, alienation, and, of course, the difficulties of progressing into adulthood.
Sometimes I’ll listen to an instrumental or a foreign language piece to get into a different mood. If I’m writing a particularly emotional bit, I might switch to listening to a track from the Atonement soundtrack (possibly “Elegy for Dunkirk”) or “The Galapagos” from the Master and Commander soundtrack.
Music takes a completely different route in my mind. The different sounds influence how I feel at a moment, or bring back memories.
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.