Here’s a little Blog about music. It may be complete bollocks. These are musings rather than anything, as I’m no authority on music, aside from listening to a lot of it, and a broad variety. I’m including tunes with the bare minimum of lyrics as songs for the purposes of this musing, as the lines blur all over the place.
I work as a freelancer, sitting at a computer. Some places have radios playing, or else have someone ‘in charge’ of the music. Some allow you to come in and stick on a pair or earphones or headphones so you can shut yourself off from ‘distractions’ and get the work done (though, arguably, music can be a distraction). The place I’m currently working at has both, so when someone with bad taste is playing DJ I’m able to escape to my own little world of more acceptable music.
As I wandered from the work place to the bank at lunch time, my headphones still on, two things occurred to me:
1. Songs were once something that were the focus of people’s attention. People would gather to see musicians perform. And whilst they still do that, more often than not, it’s just background noise.
2. Songs are, effectively, stories, with a singer (or several) inviting you to imagine a scenario unfolding. The quality of story varies, as does the quality of the storyteller but, for the most part, singers are relating a story or idea, sometimes reduced to the idea of a mantra in songs with few (or no) lyrics. And yet we give these stories only a few minutes of airplay before we move on to another story, often with no real connection between the stories.
Now, I’m not saying that we should all sit down and intellectually interact with songs, because that’s daft. But it does answer a personal question to me, as to why there are some types of music and song that I love, some that I enjoyome I just hate. I tend to like lyrics that genuinely embrace the idea of telling stories, such as Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but then I like those that employ larger than life ‘characters’ like rock music. I like a certain style of swagger, when there’s a story to go with it, but I hate bragging for the sake of bragging, the rappers and RnB artists who’ve got little to do except shout their own praises (the ‘blowing your own horn’ trait that most of us are warned away from as kids). In particular I’m adverse to love songs and lost love songs that lack any depth - if these were genuine stories, or poetic outpourings of the heart, they’d be ripped to pieces by the critics. But in many cases, because we have much of celebrity life style shoved in our face, enough to see the lives and fuck-ups of these storytellers outside their stories, you can lose a lot of faith in your storytellers.
If I was able to disassociate myself from my emotions I might, for example, be able to disassociate the singer from the song, to appreciate the song for it’s artistic merit regardless of the non-artistic merits of the artist. And I’d love to be able to do that, but I can’t.
The other type of song I like, almost paradoxically, is that with few or no lyrics. If there’s a good repetitive lyric, or tune, or beat, the song becomes in many ways a mantra. Whilst, potentially, there are a lot of songs that are anthems rather than stories, they still appeal to the intellectual side of the brain. Those with the hypnotic rhythmic nature of a mantra, words repeated so often that it’s less the words and more the sound, or just the repetition of music, appeal to the more instinctive side. These are stories, in a sense, but rather than being stories of the memory thery’re stories of the moment.
Part of the reason I’ve found myself enjoying an increasingly diverse range of music over the years is because I’ve for a long time equated musics as being representative of particular emotions. I’ve experienced a wide range of emotions throughout my life, so I can tap into the requisite ones to enjoy a particular type of musical ‘story’ (although I’m adverse to listening to the more extreme types of metal or darkly weird ambient, particularly in public, as I’m not keen in prompting suicidal tendencies in other people). I may find it hard to slip into some styles of music as I’ve not come from the right background (Lady Gaga’s weird character makes more sense to me than Rihanna’s relatively normal character), but I love listening to things from all sorts of sources.
To circle back to the beginning though, I find myself amazed that the human brain is able to take these often very emotional ‘stories’, mix about 15 of them up in an hour, and be able to jump between them. I suppose we’ve been conditioned nowadays to recognise these as small ‘worlds’ that we temporarily dip into, states of mind we temporarily exist in, before we withdraw and step into another. And I suppose that, much as anyone needs to have someone or something else as a sounding board for their own believes and ideas, music might as well be that someone or something.
For as much as music in the background can be just noise, or a distraction, when you sit up and pay attention sometimes those little stories that often go ignored can really spark up some great ideas.
Then again, I may just be talking bollocks. This has been my Blog. Goodnight.