What Music Means to Me, Part 1

Music as Defense Shield

Living in NYC, I use music to shut out the screams of the subways, the babble of the endless people, the growling of busses and trucks, the honking of cabs, the hellish sound of air-brakes. Music as barrier, as sonic bubble. When in Hawaii, I rarely feel the need to use my iPod, being able, instead, to hear the surf and the wind and the birds and individuals. Here, it is something to hide behind. Which is not quite how I would like my primary relationship with music to be.

Music as Poetry

Bands like Red House Painters, or Death Cab for Cutie, Jim White, or Sparklehorse–to name but a few–have a strong poetic feel to them, the lyrics are often unexpected, slightly askew, not what you would expect, off kilter. Yet they express something that resonates, to me at least, something both deeply and desperately true. Those moments that you see yourself with a frightening clarity that makes you want to turn away from yourself, that make you want to live with comforting falsity rather than stark and cruel reality:

“Summer Skin” by Deathcab for Cutie Squeaky swings and tall grass The longest shadows ever cast The water’s warm and children swim And we frolicked about in our summer skin I don’t recall a single care Just greenery and humid air Then Labor Day came and went And we shed what was left of our summer skin On the night you left I came over And we peeled the freckles from our shoulders Our brand new coats so flushed and pink And I knew your heart I couldn’t win Cause the seasons change was a conduit And we left our love in our summer skin (lyrics from www.azlyrics.com)

These types of bands, these types of words function as a way for me to recognize things in myself and in the world that I normally don’t bother paying attention to, or don’t want to pay attention to. The songs are sometimes not easy to listen to, but I listen over and over and find that with each listen, I find something new to reflect upon. A new piece of my soul reflected. This is music that is just so damn true that I can’t help but listen to it.

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