Thursday, February 05, 2004


Music is an essential requirement for the human soul. I have been four years now with essentially none of my music. Except for the songs that played in my head. My car, for example, has no sound system. And I am a dad. True, we play kid music, and classical, and the Beatles. But not much. And the experience is just different when someone is asking for juice, and spilling it, and getting sleepy, or cranky. "Hey Jude" is meant to be listened to as a complete song. Not as a taunt: "Here is a bit of the song you would be listening too if you weren't changing a bedsheet right now!"

So I had a nearly religious experience last night when I lay down on the couch after the kids were in bed, and just listened to music. It inspired me. I actually wrote a poem.

And yet music is almost impossible to write about. It's easier to write about sex than about music. I wasn't going to try. My buddy Storm sent me this email in which, rather than try to describe music, he writes about the important part, the effect of music on the listener:

"The first time I ever went back east, I went
to Worchester [pronounced 'wooster']. And I was blown away
by the forests, the endless little valleys, and the thought that
Indians, and trappers and all sorts of people had been wandering
through those woods for so long, like I was walking in other's footsteps,
sharing a moment across time with another forest walker from long ago.
So I get out in these woods at dawn wandering around with a portable
CD player [the height of techno at the time] listening to Beethoven's
6th [the pastoral]. It was like as soothed and balanced as I've even been.
Old Ludwig, dour and brow beaten icon on Schroder's little piano,
smiled at me across the centuries, giving me a gift as wonderful as I've
ever had, something no one could ever take away from me ever again,
something so bold in it's unadulterated celebration of life it made me cry.
There's only a few pieces that have done that for me, and admittedly, I
was emotional at the time, but.... imagine someone who never felt the
inner fire of music like that, whose head had never soared upon high
rallying with the tempestuous score like a bird upon the wing. I hope you
have some music like that, that you keep in your pocket for certain days;
days when you peek inside the pocket when no one's looking, taking
a selfish joy [for no one _ever_ seems to feel the same way about a piece
as you do, no matter how towering or subtle the work], allowing it's
waves to wash upon the shore of your heart, to wash over you, to
almost drown you in ecstasy as you surrender to it's mad irony or
incessant longing or unquenchable desire or merely it's sweet little
portrait of a morning walking in the woods."

It may be impssible to describe music in writing, but Storm pretty much described the effect of it, right there.

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