For me, music gets right to my emotions – bypassing the intellectual logical bits – in a way that no other art form can, and in a surprisingly physical way. Sometimes this is amazing – the singer or the chord change that gives you goosebumps and makes you catch your breath – and sometimes less positive.
Music taps in to whatever is going on in my head and my heart. Having recently gone through a break-up, I lost a lot of music (I hope temporarily), in three different ways.
- There’s the music that specifically reminded me of the two of us together and of what we’d shared – music we’d seen together, music we’d shared with each other, music that connected us in some way. It was too sad to be reminded of the connection I’d lost, so I can’t listen to any of that. Entire artists and even genres temporarily wiped out.
- There’s the music with alarmingly apt lyrics that I’d somehow never noticed before. Stand up Joni Mitchell, Billy Bragg, etc; this is your moment. Just as when you fall in love, all the worst and sappiest love songs are all about you because no-one has ever loved like this before, when it all goes wrong then suddenly every song about a break-up becomes the most profound poetry ever created. Except it doesn’t leave you beaming happily to yourself; it unexpectedly reduces you to heaving messy sobs on the tube. And you can’t even console yourself with the fact that you’re so wonderfully sensitive that you’re being moved to tears by Great Art – some break-up songs happen to coincidentally be brilliant music, but many are total rubbish. But good or bad, any music that might sideswipe me with sadness, that’s definitely out.
- And this one I still can’t fully explain. In the really stressful times, the really difficult and heartbroken bits, I lost the ability to listen to anything other than simplistic pop and mainstream dance. Anything else felt too complicated, too detailed, too emotional for my battered heart to deal with. Even complicated chord sequences were too much; seriously. So meaningless pop music it was. I knew I was beginning the journey back to normality when I started to seek out more complicated music again.
I grew up with music, I’ve worked in music, I write about music, I sing. Music is part of my understanding of the world. To lose it, even briefly and temporarily, feels like losing a sense. I lost the desire to sing, too, for a while. That was hard.
Nothing lasts forever. Good and bad. I’m beginning to emerge, buoyed by unending love and support, into the sunshine (incidentally, can we keep this sunshine for a while? It’s amazing) and deliberately hunting out new music, new songs to learn, new sounds to accompany me. I continue to be inexpressibly grateful for the amazing people in my life who love me and care for me (I’ve discovered anew the Rake’s possibly-infinite reserves of patience). And whatever happens, endlessly wonderful music will always sneak around the edges of whatever walls I try and build, and will welcome me back the instant I’m ready.