Find Your Food in Music

The brilliance of music, its comfort, so easy to say yet so hard to explain. The solace it brings, the uplift, the prop and support in bad times and good. Then the instant spark to memory even a brief excerpt can provoke. This is something that never ceases to amaze me. Hear it and it opens the gate to a flood of images that can no more be dammed that could Canute reverse the tide. Memories of the time it was first heard or bought, however long ago. Open the gates, dive into the torrent and you are back there, the old you. Today fades, though not entirely as there will be that painful awareness of just how much time has passed. Usually there will be some unconscious filtering of any unpleasantness, but it will still be present, on the edge of awareness. Worries, stresses, old rooms, old loves, it’s all there.

Old loves, now there’s a tricky subject. Like music, I wonder just how much of old love is ever truly forgotten or recovered from. It’s written into you in indelible ink, carved into the hardest rock with a diamond drill. Bury it at the back of an old filing cabinet that’s full of junk, stored in the remotest corner of a heavily cluttered room where the lights don’t work behind a securely locked door (with a sign on it saying Beware Of The Leopard). A place that seldom receives daylight or clean air. Except when a snatch of music is overheard, and then on go the floodlights. Sharp relief and harsh shadows.

A jumble of memories jostling for space, clamouring for the right of free association. A mass whose component parts aren’t related, link into a mass of non-sequiturs, jump forward then back, forward then sideways and round and round. The weight increases, rock upon rock dropped into an already bulging rucksack. Your knees begin to buckle, feet sinking into the soft ground. Approach memory overload, the system heading for a crash and the inevitable fatal exception error.

Sometimes it’s easy to think that it would help to dive headlong into a bottle. Imbibe to inebriation, soften those harsh, sharp edges that draw blood every time you brush by them. Daggers straight into your mind, knife twists over and over again into the heart. However, the older I get, booze now seems a whetstone, honing those sharp edges finer and finer still so that even to pass it through the air alone will draw blood.

A chain reaction, all started by a song or the briefest snatch of one, a few notes overheard by chance. Persevere and music will bring order even to this. The gentlest of balms as well as the stirrer of strong feeling. These stirrings remind me that I’m alive and still capable of such feeling, when the day to day serves only to blunt it. Music opened the door, sounded loud bootfalls in the memory, but it will also gently close it. A gentle sea refilling that void, washes the sides smooth and carries any jetsam away to the horizon. The soundtrack of my life. Play on.

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