(…or knowing me, knowing you.)
It seems ironic that I come back to this old draft just as I’ve been introduced to a great band, Mumford and Sons. (Check The Cave.)
Music has a real power over me, particularly when combined with a secondary stimulus. I can watch a sad or poignant moment in a TV show and not be the slightest bit affected if it doesn’t have the right musical trigger. But once that trigger is there, it takes the most supreme of controls for me to not be deeply affected on multiple watches. One of the best examples of this came in “Vincent and the Doctor” (see here for the video of the section I’m talking about).
My first introduction to the power of music over me was in my teens. I was reading “Magician” (Raymond E Feist) for the first time … I can still remember it so strongly. I was house-sitting for an aunt, and indulging myself with some loud music through headphones while reading. And I reached the point in the book where Pug has had enough, and destroys the stadium. The raw power described was amplified by … Queen, “Was it all worth it?”
To this day, likely more than half my life later, I can’t listen to that song without almost eidetically remembering the scene painted by Feist; the music not only affected me, it burnt the images into my memory with a cathartic-inducing intensity.
Yet it doesn’t have to be stimulus linked with what I’m reading or watching; sometimes it’s a combined emotional or memory stimulus. In 2000, I worked for a brief time at a finance company with toxically unpleasant people. It was my first introduction to working in Sydney, and I lasted six months before I found the opportunity to move on. (In fact, toxic probably didn’t even come close to describing some of the people I worked with. It taught me a valuable lesson though that I later strived to remember as a manager: if you take out your bad mood from your personal life on your staff, you’re a supreme arsehole, and everyone knows it.)
I survived those 6 months, particularly the final 3 months, due to one song – Sarah McLachlan and Delerium, “Silence“. Every morning, without fail, as I got off the train at Wynyard station and made my way to the office, I’d slow down to an amble and listen to Silence. It allowed me to centre myself, and give myself a barrier against the toxic atmosphere I was about to enter. And every afternoon, when I left, I’d play the same song again, and wash away the day. It wasn’t always perfect, but it profoundly helped.
So, there are songs that I like, there are songs that I love, and there are songs that I have such a close connection to that they’re part of me. Or, if you saw me with headphones on and a smile at the edge of my face, or a tear in my eye, it’s likely I’ve just lost myself in one of those songs.
In particular these days, that’s likely to be:
- Hallelujah (k.d. lang)
- S.O.S (Gin Wigmore)
- These Roses (Gin Wigmore)
- Caught in the Crowd (Kate Miller-Heidke)
- Silence (Sarah McLachlan/Delerium)
- Chances (Athlete)
- Breathe (Alexi Murdoch)
- Machines (or Back to Humans) (Queen)
- Above the Clouds (ELO)
- You won’t know (Brand New)
- Funtime (Boy George)
Honestly, if you want to know me, then you can know me through those songs – they’re an intrinsic part of me.
So what song or songs teach me about you?