Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sing a Little Song of

Music is an amazing thing.  It’s as varied as race or religion; people and politics.  Music can lead the charge, hop into a jive, or be a cool cat in a tie.  It defines a person by its presence, and by its absence.

I hum to myself.  A lot.  I make up songs using the sounds of the world around me.  The gaps in the rushing air zipping down a highway, windows rolled low.  The syncopated murmur of a crowd gaping at jumper forty stories up.  The high-hats hissing as the taxis roll over sewage drains.  When I cook, I find a rhythm with my utensils, tapping my way around frying pans, cutting boards, and turkey timers. 

I have tinnitus, which has been dealt with in an interesting way.  First, I try to keep some soft noise going in the background.  When I describe a dead silence as having a strong, audible ringing, I mean it.  My brain isolates notes in the white noise, and I hum along.  If there’s some combination such as a fan, humidifier, shower, and a rabbit kicking around their cage, I can hear more music than Brian Eno or Tunng combined.

Hearing these notes in between my steps used to bother the hell out of me.  I had so much to do in a day that I couldn’t write the song down.  I wanted to remember it; keep it; share it.  I would make it apart of how represented myself, in hopes that it would remind me later.  Running around the retail space singing variations on Gershwin can be exhilarating sometimes.  Normally, I’d exhaust myself trying to recall these songs after my shift.  I’d develop harmonies, melodies, bass lines, and an 808 kick that could synchronize someone’s soul to the vibrations of the windows at a nightclub; and I’d lose them all by the time I got in my car.  I’d try harder to cull up these memories, just to make even larger pieces – full orchestrations featuring woodwinds and brass, arguing in a cacophony that would drown my brain out in the beautiful thought of it.

I’d rush into the house, grab a piece of paper and a pen, and it would be gone.

For years, this is something I’ve dealt with.  Now, I no longer have to rush; I don’t have to spend my energy to do forty things for everyone else, before consider a spare second for myself.  I can listen to the whirring fans at work, hear the click-click-cough echo through the office, and I can start humming. 

But, I don’t write it down.  I don’t worry about writing it down anymore.  I stressed myself for so long about sharing these glimmers of light and happiness that went through my own head, that I couldn’t enjoy them when they were happening.  One of the reasons I set a goal of this writing project to be a lucid thought process, was to preserve the catharsis I could glean from it; I never enjoyed the catharsis of just humming a little ditty at work.  I wore my soul thin feeling sad and discouraged because I was unable to share the sounds I heard with others.

So I would be too tired to try and make anything.

So the songs I heard would never be played.

And I grew to hate myself for it a little more every day.

The problem is that these songs aren’t for anyone’s ears.  They’re my songs.  They’re the pace of my life – the literal songs alluded to when people march to their own drums.  For some, the chorus is a clamoring of toothbrushes and teapots in the morning.  For others, the crunch of romaine leaves in the mouths of 79 rabbits. 

No one else will appreciate your songs the way you do.  I can try for years to scream how everyone needs to observe how great I am.  I know it; several people close to me know it; but everyone else knows how great they are.  I cannot change their minds.  The traditional cantata does not suit the Sigur Ros fan.  I cannot change this.  There are times where the songs cross; creating a dissonance that can be erotic or appalling.  But they are always our songs.  The reasons that prohibit me from forcing you to like my songs are the same that make you a stronger individual.

When is the last time you heard your song?  Take five minutes today, and don’t do a thing.  Close your eyes, and just listen.  Lean back in your office chair, have a seat on a park bench, pause your music while you’re on the bus, and just listen.  Find the thread tying all of the noise together, and let your mind put those gaps together.

You may find yourself prone to singing in socially unacceptable situations.  I will not be held legally liable for this.

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