A tired mind become a shape-shifter.
Everybody need a mood lifter,
Everybody need reverse polarity.
Everybody got mixed feelings,
About the function and the form.
Everybody got to deviate
From the norm.
— Rush, written by Alex Lifesong, Vital Signs
Everybody need a mood lifter. For those of ya’ll who know me well, know very well I could go off and make each one of these 999 good things about music. This was started by my son Z… & Me of just a way to daily focus on positivity. We switch off days where he comes up with a good thing, then I come up with a good thing. And I get to write about it, which is kinda a passion of mine, or something I just can’t help doing. The thought is that maybe on bad challenging days, we can go back and look at anything on this list and re-write the daily narrative with all the things we like and are grateful for. If it was all about music, where’s the diversity in that? It could be though people’s, it very well could be.
My Radiohead Story. Some of you have heard this one. Some of you might not understand it. Music serves its purpose for each person, individually on a personal level. Sometimes it’s a collective experience. I found myself in Saudi Arabia after 911 with a world gone mad. Some of ya’ll have been on a deployment with the military. Always for me, it was an important formative life experience but it was also a time where you are separated from family and sometimes with all new people. Lifelong friendships are made and bonds during those times, but it also was a time that proves very interior, disconnected, isolating. Nothing matches that feeling, that mood better for me than the music of Radiohead. In Saudi, where I really came to love Radiohead was listening to Amnesiac on headphones. There was probably a DiscMan involved I’m guessing. Wearing your chem mask and heavy helmet around, walking from the dorms to the chow hall, this played and it felt completely right. It was comforting in the other-wordly electronica spacey rock. It magnified what was going on in my soul. And that my friends is what music means to me.
Just so you don’t think music to effect the moods is all about looking inward in a soul-exploring whiny life is existential douch’ey way, it can also be all shades of mindless. Enter Van Halen. They were my fave band from like 6th or 7th grade until I got all Christian for a year or two there, then moved on to R.E.M. As a teen, growing up in G-Vine, if you had some frustrations, something wasn’t going quite right, those feelings can be so heightened during those years, you need a release. Also if you were wanting to get pumped up for a basketball game or make the time go by while you painted your house one whole summer… there was Van Halen. It fit for all those things. Brash blatantly banal lyrics, you never ever had to think about that shit right there. You just blasted it through your Emerson or Pioneer speaker and either forgot about the world for a bit or lived in the fullness of it.
So my last deployment I connected to the music of Frightened Rabbit. I would post the lyrics and songs on the Books of The Face and poor Ma Sarah Swinney would worry. That’s what Mom’s do…worry about their sons from time to time. I think the parenting thing doesn’t go away throughout life. You want to know they are okay, that they are in a good place, that shit doesn’t go away. Scott Hutchinson wrestled with some serious demons but his band, Frightened Rabbit, put out some great music with layered thoughtful lyrics. Scott I believe a raging alcoholic eventually met his demise drowning, maybe just walked into the water or jumped off a bridge. His body was found in the Fifth of Forth washed up ashore in his home country of Scotland, a true artist that left behind some very meaningful soaring anthemic music for the rest of the world. Again music to match the mood.
Let’s go out a high note shall we? So many good songs written about the power of music, Rush’s Spirit of the Radio…and this diddy above by that other Canadian power rock trio of the times… Triumph. The lyrics say it all.
She climbs into bed,
She pull the covers over her head,
And she turns her little radio on.
She’s has a rotten day
So she hopes the DJ’s gonna play her favorite song.
It makes her feel much better,
Brings her closer to her dreams
A little magic power makes it better that it seems
She gets the magic power of the music in me.
So if you are or feel that you are, “…the one and only who’s sad and lonely, reaching for the top,” well the music keeps you going… and just don’t stop. Never stop. Keep on keeping on. In the words of Dory… just keep swimming. If you face deep and troubled waters, just run through that shit as fast as you can, and turn the volume knob all the way up to 11. There are better days ahead. God’s promise, this too shall pass. And you might as well let it pass listening to some good freaking tunes.
I’ll leave you with a slightly more up to date feel good song. This one works for me, playing in my ears while running, getting pumped up for the day during the drive in. Feeling down and low…just know, you can’t stop the freaking rock. Be the rock young sensei!! And rock out your way through this life. It will serve you well.