Sunday, August 17, 2008

Don't hide what you feel inside. Don't let anybody stand in your way. Just let the music ...

... take you higher.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The title is a small shout-out to David Coverdale. What can I say? I was a hair-metal junkie. Oh hell, who am I fooling? There is no "was". Skid Row is still a guilty pleasure. (I blame my Uncle Mike for that. HE was the one who put a tenner in my hand and forced me to go into Liquorice Pizza to pick up the newest album from Whitesnake. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Damn you, Uncle Mike!)


If I were more savvy, I would just create a mix of the below. But I'm not that technologically keyed in (I could be, but I'm lazy). So instead, I'll just throw out a few links. Listen to all, or just snippets, or just scroll past it all. In this, I'll allow you to create your own mash-up.

(Please stick with me through the links ... as I said, you don't have to listen to all of them, but it's my set-up here people ... and as an additional disclaimer - when I say "trad" music, I mean that to be the instrumental/traditional music of Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton, etc. Or, as my friends from Ireland call it, the "diety-ditty shite".)
I'll be there, with a love that will shelter you. I'll be there,with a love that will see you through.
Look out baby, 'cause here I come.
But there's a power, and a vital presence, that's lurking all around.
If you stick around I'm sure that we can find some common ground.
And my fond heart strove to choose between, the old love and the new love.
I'm stepping through the door, and I'm floating in a most peculiar way.
You showed me how, how to leave myself behind, how to turn down the noise in my mind.
He sings out a song which is soft but its clear, as if maybe someone could hear.
Everyone can see that I'm an island, I've got ocean just about everywhere that I can see.
No you can't take that away from me.
In my dreams--it's still the same. Your love is strong, it still remains.
Where I come from and where I am going, and I am lost in between.
Er, Sean Ryan?
Quimbara quimbara quma quimbamba. Quimbara quimbara quma quimbamba?

Okay. That's enough for now. And it barely scratches the surface.

-- When I first started this rambling, I wanted to make a point of how music is our universal connector. But the artists and songs I chose to link to seem to be my subconscious telling me something. (Maybe it is saying something to you too.) Just an observance. Now, onto my blathering. --

How do you capture this? All of the bands linked above I've seen live, some numerous times. Each and every show was a narcotic to me. There's the fact that you're seeing these strangers, though they aren't strangers to YOU, because they somehow spoke to your soul. ("Oh my god, they wrote that song for me!") Then there's the communal anticipation - every single person is there with some expectation, some want, some need, and those desires become a palpable energy. It all adds up to a heady brew.

How do you capture those emotions, those feelings? How do you contain that deluge in a paper cup? Can you?

Would you really want to?

You can't capture moments. Seriously, how DO you catch a memory? Photographs are one way, but they only retain a small part of that infinitesimal moment. It's not like you can carry around an old mason jar and plunk it onto your head every time you want to keep some memory, some event. Even capturing fireflies ... they eventually weaken and their light dies out. It defeats the purpose, no?

(And if you DID try to go the jar route, the concussion from all that banging against your noggin' may not be worth the price.)

How do you keep those fleeting times of your life real, immediate, and tangible? For me, it's listening to music at every chance, and finding new artists. Expanding my musical knowledge base. The ones I've seen live, when I hear their CD again, I'm brought back to that moment, and that time of life when I saw them play. It may not be as gripping or as urgent as *that* moment, but it's enough of a visceral memory that I'm left wanting more. It's like giving a needle to a junkie ... they will want more. And then more again.

The Four Tops and The Temptations were my first concert; Dad took me. The first concert that I took myself to was Bad Religion, and I've seen them more times than I can count. (Greg? Have my babies? Please?)

I do remember every concert and every piece of live music that I've seen. Now ... I can't rattle them all off, or even remember all of their names (there's been a metric assload of 'em), but if I hear a band, I can most likely tell you whether or not I have seem them live.

Recently I posted about the quiet time of night, when you can truly feel at home in yourself. But what about those times and experiences that allow you to go OUTside of yourself? When you don't want the world-collective to be quiet, and you want to connect instead?

Live music does it for me. More specifically, live trad music. It's one of the few times my brain shuts up completely (dancing being one of the exceptions). There is no static in the background, no mental niggling. I am in me, fully. In the music, completely. In the moment, wholly. I'm connected, yet disconnected, all at the same time.

I've lost track of time, of self and surrounding, being caught up in the moment. Moments are (supposedly) fleeting, but each moment I've had when I'm surrounded by music have never been lost. They are here. HERE. (Imagine that I'm pointing to my chest, my heart. And stop looking at my boobs!)

We carry each of those moments with us: those instances of feeling, of connecting, of being more ... and of being less. They are never lost. They are inside of us. Hell, they ARE us. When enraptured at a concert, I live right up to that second. And then I live all of my lives that could have been. And my life that is. And will be. And then I lose all of that. I just "am".

Don't just be in the moment. Live it.

Why the fuck am I channeling Tony Robbins? I really don't want to be some arm-chair psychologist, or motivational speaker (or have that horrible tanning-bed look). I don't want to tell you what to do, or how to feel, or how to view the world. I guess, that by putting my thoughts out there, to y'all, I can tell myself that I'm not actually talking to myself, talking to an empty room, not actually talking to my cats, but instead I can pretend that I am communicating with (at) people. Because, after all, only "those crazy people" talk to themselves.

And talk to their pets.

(Besides, when I DO talk to the cats? Their response is ... ball licking ... not really the answer I was looking for. Thanks guys. Bastards.)

Personally, live music allows me no sense of time. No sense of worry. It gifts me with transcendence.

In that moment, everyone is individual, and everyone is whole, and part of the whole. Everything is learned, and unlearned. In that moment everything is forgiven, and everything is forgotten. Everything, that is, except for that note, this note, that phrase, this chorus ... this moment of electricity. Of vibrance. Of feeling so incredibly grounded, and yet it is still an out of body experience.

Pretty much ALL live music does that to me, when I am there in the audience. I feel a part of, and apart from. And I'm at peace.

Recorded music doesn't make me feel that way, at least not in that immediate sense. Unless it's trad. I don't know why that is - maybe some unknown genetic memory.

Trad music (even bluegrass in a way) is kind of weird for me - I can have it playing in the background, and I don't have to concentrate on it; it won't disturb me if I'm doing another task that requires me to focus. But if I actually do stop and listen, it reaches out and grabs me by the throat. By my heart. And by my gut.

It's still the only type of music that I can consciously force myself to put in the background. Other music makes me stop, and listen to the lyrics. Focus on what it's saying ("Is it revved up like a dooce, or is it wrapped up like a douche? I should replay that part again ... ")

Maybe I view trad like the lover that will always be there, no matter how I treat it. Just because I listen to other genres, or go and see their shows, and feel that same excitement when I listen, it doesn't lessen the hold that trad music has on me. Or the love I have for it.

Apparently trad music is my aural booty call.

3:00 AM is when I'm alone with me, yet semi-connected to the world. Being at a concert, or in a pub watching a trad band, is when I'm just part of a whole; when the world is semi-connected to me. A small speck that creates the whole ... experience.

One paint-spot, one small dab of the brush ...

... can create this:

Individually, yes, that one point is interesting. Taken by, and of, itself, it can be beautiful. (The listener, the audience member, as a person can be endlessly fascinating and intriguing. But when I'm at a concert, I honestly don't give a shit about them, except for how they contribute to the show. The energy they give off. How they tie into the entire experience.) When that one small part contributes to the whole? Wow.

There are those of us who connect(ed) by following the Grateful Dead, some by going to see indie groups play where the band outnumbered the audience, some by being in packed arenas to see Jay-Z, and some by standing in a small club to see a cult-status band, where you feel packed in like a sardine - oil included. For me I can, and have, connected in all of those places. I've connected listening at home to 8-tracks, albums, tapes, CD's, and now the internet (PANDORA! I love you!)

Music is the art form that can reach out through whatever delivery platform (recorded, live, or something you created), and grab you. Music really is the foundation of life, mine at any rate.

To me, music IS my shelter. It's my safety net. It does, and has (on so many levels and in SO many ways), see me through.

I think most of us want to grip, capture, and hold close those seconds. Those that bring us into the moment, and take us out of ourselves. Me too. I want to be able to Tivo those experiences so that I can relive them, again and again. And again. It wasn't until now, THIS moment, that I now realize ... I don't want to.

I want those transcendental minutes of life to remain ever elusive, but still within my grasp. The fact that they now have that soft, feathered edge make it more comfortable, and comforting, when I look back. Though the intensity is now dulled, there is still that memory.

It feels like I'm leaving this unfinished, and I am. While writing this, I had all of the above links playing, then some. The musical siren song is calling me. Asking me to come visit them again. This song ALWAYS makes me cry, and still I laugh and smile through those tears. Because it takes me back to a place, a snapshot in time. A time when I was crying a lot. And laughing. And living. So I'll leave you with this and this question ...

The above was a snapshot of the soundtrack of my life (concert-wise at least). What's your soundtrack, concert or otherwise?

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