01/09/2016

Music is a Minefield



I have to thank Spotify for allowing me to keep revamping my music selection. My method of collecting is to listen to my new Discover Weekly playlist and to add anything I like to my "Anything and Everything" master playlist (and then immediately spam the privileged few in my life with my latest finds). This means I have about 39 hours of songs, listed chronologically, that caught my mood at any given point in my life over the past 6 years. Like an archaeologist, examining the strata of my past, I can see where it was Summer or Winter, where I was happy or solemn but all of these songs have spoken to me in one way or another and so they are welcome in my collection. I never expected my music to turn on me though.


For months over the past year I had enjoyed small, private smiles as a I discovered a new song or artist that somehow perfectly encapsulated the joy, excitement and contentment I was feeling, or that was beautiful and sad but not visceral. After everything was over though, I rushed to my master playlist to find distraction and solace and instead found that my music had become a minefield.

I generally listen in backwards chronological order, listening to my most recent finds first and occasionally burrowing further back in time if I'm feeling nostaligic. Now, that meant my stomach twisting as I treaded gingerly over the now salted earth that was my recent musical history. Sometimes the first few notes of a song would slip around my throat, squeezing, and I'd skip desperately onto the next track for fear of breaking down. I began to feel like every song was out to get me, and that I was simultaneously mourning their loss. One of my favourite new discoveries was "Don't Read the Classics" by Owl & Mouse, a girl somberly sings about being so lost after a break up that she can't even read anymore, and I now felt, however self absorbed and cliché it might have been, like that song was somehow written for me. In the words of Dylan Moran:

"Everybody, shut up. Shut up! This song is all about me.


I have also maybe had the briefest and most tumultuous relationship with the Paul Simon song "Obvious Child" that anyone has ever had. Added to my list after jointly discovering the brilliant movie of the same name (Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate are incredible), I would listen to this song often, bopping along unaware of the sick feeling it was going to engender in me, just a couple of months down the line.



There were so many of these songs that I now couldn't listen to and I felt robbed. They included one song I'd found that was the namesake of the person concerned and it was really almost perfect for them, even finding it had felt like a spooky but happy coincidence. But it had to go, my gut reaction was to purge my playlist of anything that now made me remember that part of my life. I stopped listening to music at all for a while, some songs would be fine, others would twist that knife, still buried where it had been left, and I was not strong enough to play that game of pain roulette.

I regret that purge now though, I know that I rid myself of truly beautiful music in order to hide from my pain and it wasn't worth it. Luckily because I am a nerdy librarian I kept another playlist called "Discover Weekly Archive" which is compiled of most of my Discover Weekly playlists from the past 6 months. I haven't checked as of yet, because opening that playlist feels too dangerous, a little like opening Pandora's box, but I am hoping that all of my most loved discoveries are in there somewhere, waiting to be reclaimed.

I'm whole heartedly embracing music again now though, even if that means starting by listening to various rowdy pop punk playlists that are unlikely to pierce my carefully constructed composure. I'm filling my life with live music too, tonight I'm off to see We Are Scientists, in September Sound of The Sirens and in October Jamie Lawson. Last week I found myself standing shoulder to shoulder with a hundred or so others watching Thee Mighties supporting Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts, empty plastic pint vibrating in my hand. That sweaty, loud and happy moment seemed like the perfect embodiment of the power of music, I had captured a cupful of noise and after a long and fearful musical drought, my thirst was quenched.

Edit [02/09/16]: We Are Scientists were incredible. Felt like I was 16 again, reaching out to touch Keith Murray as he made his way through the crowd, being enthusiastically hugged by people along the way, and passing Chris Cain (who we also sang Happy Birthday to) over our heads. I'm still slightly deaf this morning but it was 100% worth it. I've temporarily added a few of their best to the ole playlist on the right there, in honour of a brilliant night. 

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