30 October 2008

Don't Let The Darkness Eat You Up

Today, a shout out to a favorite local reportress/blogger, Marissa Richardson of ‘b’ (a new local paper offering from the Baltimore Sun). She posts quite a bit about music and TV in a refreshing and insightful manner. Her recent post on the intersection of music media and TV was thorough, funny and got me to thinking (as they often do).(http://www.bthesite.com/archives/2008/10/thanks-to-tv-my-itunes-just-got-a-little-better/#more-2528)

Ms. Richardson writes about those light bulb moments of recognition, where background music suddenly becomes foreground. Songs that had faded in consciousness through the repetitive and pernicious association with television ads light trigger a notion: why is that familiar? Where have I heard that before? And is it in my music collection?

While reading the post and watching the linked videos, I had that same feeling. I was astonished at the recognition level, knowing I had heard much of the music before, knew the artists, but didn’t make the connections between what I was watching and who I had heard in other contexts i.e. radio/iPod/CD’s. “Teardrop” by Massive Attack is a case in point. I had heard that song on radio a few times, I had heard of Massive Attack, but never realized that “Teardrop” was also the theme to “House”, which I watch all the time! A ‘doh!’ moment. THAT’S why it sounded familiar!

It also triggered another cascade of memory. Where else had I heard it? It buzzed around in my head for a while, I was zoning out in front of my CD collection when it snapped into focus. “Teardrop” (http://www.jose-gonzalez.com/inournature.html) was also covered by Jose Gonzalez on his “In Our Nature” disc from last year. BLING! The light bulb went off. I get a great deal of amusement from that sort of musical “connect the dots”. I like finding the links between things, sussing out the cross-connections between one artist and another, or one form of media and another. Maybe it is a glimpse of a universal thread that gives insight into what an artist is thinking. Even if I can’t play a lick or carry a tune in the proverbial bucket it lets me feel like I am somehow in on the creative process; that is a valuable benefit of music that engages the senses.

Another valuable benefit is the occasional nugget of wisdom or encouragement that gets in your head while listening to a particularly good song. Inspired by my trip from Marissa’s post to “House” to Jose Gonzalez, I listened to “In Our Nature” on my way to work yesterday morning. There is a line in the song “Down The Line” where Jose sings ‘Don’t let the darkness eat you up’. Wow. Wow. Simple but powerful. I guess if hadn’t been so fatigued and stressed out (been in a bit of a rough patch lately) the line would have seemed merely good but perhaps not outstanding lyric. But in the grey light of another Wednesday workday with too much on my mind, it had the power of prophecy. I opened my eyes a little wider, took a few deep breaths and told myself that I could make it through the day. I felt a little less anxious, singing along with a Swedish-Argentinian musician and a talented local writer, both of whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting. Connectivity felt pretty good.

‘Don’t let the darkness eat you up’. My new mantra.
(Many thanks to Marissa Richardson and Jose Gonzalez for the inspiration)


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...