Friday, July 21, 2006

Enforced Secret Joy 7 – Music that Transcends

I don’t know how many of you know about Pandora , the internet jukebox where you create your own radio station and it’ll play songs similar to songs of the artist you initially program, but seriously, it’s God’s gift to the internet.

I swear, I swear, I’m not trying to endorse anything. Nobody pays me to mention this stuff, and Pandora is free anyway, so you’re only depriving yourself should you choose not to muck around with it.

Music is really important to me as a writer. I usually design a soundtrack to whatever script I’m working on, but when I get tired of the same songs, I go to Pandora for variety.

Pandora is awesome, because it’ll throw up all sorts of songs from bands that nobody has ever heard of as well as bands you have heard of (and on my Twilight Singers station, every seventh song is a Twilight Singers song, and that’s ALWAYS good.) It can be a hit and miss affair, you’re allowed to skip forward x amount of songs per hour, but you can always flip back and forth to your other stations. I have a Replacements station , a Garbage Station , and a Smithereens station, so I can usually find something to rock out to.

Musicians may spit their beer all over the computer screen when I say this, but I suspect a band has a better chance of getting their music out to an audience than a writer has to get her script read. With the advent of things like Myspace and Pandora, I’ve discovered the teeniest bands that I never would’ve found otherwise. They all have cult followings, they’ve developed sizable audiences. And yet Purple Monkey script will be lucky if fifty people ever read it in its lifetime.

But music’s got the edge anyway. Nothing sounds like music (duh.) Whereas words can be read, heard, seen. It touches difference sensory whatchamadoodles or something. I know a fine actor Franklin, who pays no attention to me whatsoever, and he once posted on his Myspace page about music. I’m cribbing from him here, because I’m too tired to rephrase in Amyspeak. He can’t spell though, so I’m cleaning a few things up for him.

Music is the purest and most beautiful of art forms. It truly is a wonderful gift from God. No matter what we do, we cannot change it, only experience it. Everything it needs is already contained in itself...A minor chord is sad and a major is happy, no matter how the person playing guitar feels. Love, hate, fear, joy, melancholy and any other describable or indescribable emotion is already there. We have but to listen and we hear it. In actuality, it has no substance, yet it'll hit you like a ton of bricks. It transcends language and dialect, intelligence and belief and is an ethereal bit of that thing that connects all of us.

This week has been better, thank you who have sent well wishes. I can’t even say I’m coming up from the gloom, because the Act One classes have kept me so distracted that I occasionally forget I had one of the worst days in recent memory last week, so I don't remember there there is gloom to come up from.

And in fact, some good news did come through, as I found out I’ve advanced to the next stage of a tiny fellowship I applied for. There’s a few more levels to clear, and I’ve been in this position before, where I made it up one step, only to be smacked out at the next round, but as an old boss of mine used to say, “It’s always time to open the champagne” when it comes to celebrating steps on the screenwriting path, because you never know if this step is your last. I didn’t open champagne (no more job, remember), but a few beers were quaffed as I did my Act One homework for that night.

So as I’m hammering away at the Act One homework for last night (my keyboard has never gotten such a workout before. Or my fingertips. Or my eyeballs. They’re ready to melt out of my head, people,) I’m staring at the computer screen with hardly any breaks for seven hours a day) Pandora spits a song out through my speakers. I’m the type of person where a song really has to grab me in order for me to pay attention, but if it does, I instantly stop everything I’m doing, enthralled to the melody.

The song’s called “Drowned” from a band called Halloween, Alaska. Yeah, I know. Who’s heard of a band called that, right? Well, apparently the folks on The O.C. have, as they’ve used songs on one of their episodes. The O.C. is hipper than me. I am sad.

The song starts off mid tempo, thoughtful, the bass line is carrying most of it. And just when you think that the lyric “All around you is love” is quite lovely, but I don’t need to hear it four times in a row, it TAKES OFF in this amazing sonic rush and roar. And the singer’s just wailing “I’ll show you drowned” in this awesome F YOU kinda way. It dips, and zooms around the room a couple of times and cuts back to nothing but the bass line like it was no big deal at all. What? I do this all the time. No big deal.

And if that WAS all, it’d be fabulous on its own, but it keeps going. Now it’s a chorus of voices joining the bass line and a plinking piano, and they harmonize to this line.

Hope won’t weigh you down.

Which is such a startling clear cut realization into my current conditions that I was left at a loss. Maybe God’s speaking to me through the song. I like thinking that God’s an indie rock kind of Deity. But it’s bigger than that. He uses music because it’s pure, like Franklin says. This song wrecks me, in a way that no script could. It lifts me up, it shoves my face into a pan of Hope and swishes me around in it. And I come out sputtering and blinking and thinking well, maybe they’ve got a point.

Dear God, thank you for this song. Thank you for this band with the strange name and the Myspace page where I could download the song. Thank you for music, for its universal open door into emotion, thank you for the idea that Hope Won’t Weigh Me Down. Thank you for Hope in general, and help me to remember that in the darker moments, it’s not out of my reach, it’s only a click away on my Itunes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

1 comment:

RichardT said...

Truer words....

There's a band I'm a big devotee of--they were really the Soundtrack to My Life trhough most of college and even my early adulthood. A few years ago I had a chance to meet the band who were doing an in-store signing at Virgin Records on Sunset. Did I mention these guys hate to travel and are almost NEVER in the States, let alone play live or do appearances like this?? So I ran, showed up early and waited like the teen-idol-drooling-maniac I had suddenly become. And...I got to actually MEET and talk a bit with these guys who had created these sounds that been the background of so much of my growing up. I got to tell them what they had done for me. I got to yack about great music with them. I got a picture with them and a really cute doodle on the CD I brought with me for them to sign, done by the pricipal writer of the bad.

I have met many famous people in my life--artists, actors, directors. I once even met my favorite comic book artist--a guy so brilliant he is considered one the defining artists of the genre--but on none of those occations have I ever EVER regressed like I did that day. Lost all my cool and became a giggling, near-speechless fanboy.
And why? Music, music, music.

There really is nothing better.