Friday, August 18, 2006

majestic imperial bridge of sighs

Dude, DeVotchKa, a thousand times, DeVotchKa. I am such a dweeb. But when I go to see a band play live, and when they play a beautiful song, and when the club is lit just so, when everything is just teetering on perfection, I stand with a dumb grin on my face. There, in that moment of listening, of being part of an audience, everything else melts away, like colored chalk markings washing away in the rain. Something, there is no articulating, no explaining it, but something stirs in me.

Music, at times, is so compelling that it makes me want my life to live up to such meaning. Does that make any sense? When the lyrics are heavy with their significance, but the music makes them appealing to bear, oh, at that moment, I feel very small, and very large at once. The song is so beautiful and moving, and that makes me both wilt in my own nothingness and swell with hope and promise. And I know. I know this makes no sense. Dancing about architecture, Snakes on a Plane. It's unintelligible, I know.

But lord help me should I ever meet a real musician, because I will fall madly. I will turn to my Jake Barnes, and remark, "I'm a goner".

This insanity may have been inherited from my father. Growing up, I was always half-amused, half-infuriated with my father's disconnection from the world. Don't get me wrong- he's no zen master. But his baseline was always that of the absent professor. Except that his head was not on numbers or scientific theories. He was always drunk on music. It was hard to get his attention at times, and during those times, you could see the distant gaze in his eyes. You could tell the music had absconded him to some place you could never invade. If he snapped out of it, if he got angry, if he smiled, it was because he chose to depart from the realm of those songs.

Even though I always, on some level, knew my father had a few screws loose because of this tendency of his, I also knew there was a certain power to it. That power was beyond the obvious ability to tune out the rest of the world, with all its nagging reality. I saw the real power of it later, when my friend Laura started slipping me mix tapes in junior high school, tapes with such contraband as Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Replacements, and The Sugarcubes. Half the songs have drifted away from my memory now, but I remember what it felt like then, to hear those songs, to feel that sense of listening to real music. Even if I didn't understand all of it, I felt a recognition- the music made sense, in a way that American Top 40 never could. And even though those mix tapes were always laden with music that made you want to dress in black and wear heavy eyeliner, they somehow seemed so hopeful to me.

Some people cling to family, some people cling to religion, some people cling to random acts of kindness, some people cling to political progress. But for me, it's standing at a concert, at that moment when a song transcends its composition. When a song becomes more than the lead singer, the lyrics, the instruments, the notes, the melody, the beat, I cling to that moment. It may sound trite, but that's where I get my faith in this world. That's how I know that life is worth living, that there is good out there. And if I got this from my father, I will gladly take all the other inherited flaws.

No comments: