Music can do a number of things. It can make you laugh. It can make you cry. It can even help you reach that clarifying moment where you know how much work you need to do to get where you want to be, but you have a deep rooted sense that everything is going to be ok regardless. And maybe I’m having one of those now. The Rolling Stones’ ‘You can’t always get what you want’ (such a cliché I know) is playing and I’m sitting at my trusty iMac, surrounded by the debris of a highly stressful semester. I have about 15 weeks of classes to go and then I’m done. I’m a qualified graphic designer. I’m filled with ideas and pictures of how I want my life to look. The words of hundreds of inspiring authors float around my mind as I contemplate the life that is ahead of me.
But what happens when the music stops? What happens when the choir dies down and you are met with an almost empty and disappointing silence. Maybe you can hear the faint whir of your computer or the neighbours putting the bins out. What if the song ends and you are met with the screaming reality that it is 2am and you really don’t have time to pursue where your head, heart and Mick Jagger is taking you.
What happens is you shut your computer down, Crawl into bed, maybe check Facebook and Instagram a few more times, and you fall to sleep. Knowing full well that the cycle is going to begin again, and at the same time the following night, you will reach a point where you are almost drowning in possibilities and again there is no time at all to pursue them.
I have so many different bands for so many moods. The realm of melancholy safely belongs in the hands of Radiohead, although complimented by the odd track from New Order and The Cure (Ok, let’s face it. There’s a lot of The Cure in there). When I’m feeling moody I hit up the XX or Crystal Castles. Maybe even some Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol. Happy? Try Vampire Weekend or The Shins. Even when I’m feeling a bit down and want to get out of a rut, I can always depend on the words and sound of the late, great LCD Soundsystem. This is my soundtrack. Yes I have one. I have made sure of that.
So I have two choices. I can either go easy on the music, which I am a little uncomfortably dependant on it as you can see, or I can use it. I can recognise that I am the type of person that is largely dictated by emotion and I can cultivate that. I know that my validity and self worth and future plans all need to be rooted in God. As a Christian this is mildly important. And by mildly I mean hugely and ‘if this is not the case I really need to fix some things in my life because I seem to be missing the point in this whole relationship with God thing’ important.
When I sit down at my computer, I can make an effort to invite (well, acknowledge really because the whole omnipresent thing means that he’s pretty much already there) God into that space. And then we can listen together. I’ll roam around Spotify and Pinterest and make a time and space for this dreaming and planning season of my life. I’m 23 years old. And if I go by the lessons that countless novels and TV dramas that I have consumed have taught me (and ok, my parents and numerous sermons as well), it’s the decisions and choices that I make now that determine where my life, and my identity are going end up (although when exactly is this end point? Surely people are always growing and changing? At least this is what I hope).
I’m going to do this. I don’t want to waste my life away on the theory that I’ll figure it all out tomorrow. I love music. I love design. I love fiction. I love my family. I love my friends. I love the better, whole and restored world that awaits us. I love that we have all been invited to participate in bringing that world about. I love the Rolling Stones. I love dreaming. I love hoping. I love possibilities.
So this is where I stand. I’ll check in soon and let you know of the music and the dreams and the ideas that God and I have discovered together.
And now, to Oasis.
I’ve done something similar to this in the past on my old blog. I’m going to make it easier on myself and only post this once a week.
These are three songs that I have been listening to obsessively over the last week.
Cannon Ball, The Breeders
The Suburbs (Arcade Fire cover), Mr Little Jeans
1979, Smashing Pumpkins
Feel free to recommend music to me! I’m always interested to hear new things.
A new Radiohead album. I love these guys because their lyrics are written in a way that you can interpret them however you want to or need to.
I think at the moment, this song is speaking to me about this new perception of real life. Of the real world.
“I’m a fish now, out of water” and, “It’s like I’m falling out of bed from a long, weary dream. The sweetest flowers and fruits hang from trees. Just exactly as I remember. Every root. Every gesture.”
A scary new beautiful world that I need to learn how to exist and participate in.
Today at church I had the opportunity to pray with someone about how I’m going. About my fear of judgment and inadequacy. Of never being good enough. Of being the older brother in the Prodigal Son story.
The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
Trying to accept that there is nothing I can do to earn or lose God’s love, it’s unconditional, is kind of hard. And today praying about this stuff I had the lyrics, “If you think this is over, then you’re wrong” playing in my head. Not in a condemning way, but like Thom Yorke sang it. In a sad, optimistic, bittersweet kind of way.
This is a journey. Something that I’m going to really work hard on with God. Not alone.
I went to the perfectly lovely St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival yesterday. I saw a tonne of bands, some which I knew and loved and some that I hadn’t really heard much of at all. But it was all excellent.
Music, I have come to understand, plays a rather large part in my spirituality. And I don’t just mean Brooke Fraser, Tim Hughes and Switchfoot, I don’t really listen to much of them. I mean Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Sufjan Stevens, Pixies, Talking Heads and countless other bands. Whether listening to them on my iPod or screaming the lyrics along with thousands of other fans at a gig, it’s here that I feel the most connected with God. I feel more alive. I feel plugged into him. Surrounded by sound and joy and sadness. It’s a pretty amazing and complicated feeling.
This was a pretty big week for me musically.
I started the week by seeing Sufjan Stevens. Who is an actual music genius. There were dances, video imagery, balloons, and a song that lasted for 26 minutes. Everyone on stage seemed so connected to the music. It was if I was witnessing a once in a lifetime gig. He was very genuine. Very about the music. And for a few hours, I felt different, I percieved things differently. It was magical. I loved it.
On Thursday, I woke up to the news that The White Stripes had broken up. It was for a good reason. They stopped because they wanted to end well. Their statement was:
The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong
to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is
that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your
involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.
It was a good reason. But it didn’t stop my heart from breaking. I never got to see them live.
The last of the three rather substantial events was St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. The music festival for Hipsters. The best acts all day were Warpaint, Deerhunter and Cut Copy. We saw Cut Copy last and everybody there danced like CRAZY. We were singing every word and every sound of every song. I loved it. It was a pretty freeing moment where nobody cared what other people thought of them.
And here’s my point. Where does this all fit? Where do I stand? I love music. And I know that some people wont really understand the deep level of love I mean, but that’s fine. Everyone has their loves and passions. People were poking a bit of fun of me when I expressed how upset I was about The White Stripes, and I’ll admit that I’m still feeling fairly reverse culture shocky and I was reading a very sad book about September 11 at the same time so I’m quite prone to being over emotional. It was frustrating though because I felt as if people didn’t think I had any sort of perspective. Which is stupid because, Hello?! I just spent three weeks in a developing country! I know that there is so much hurt and brokeness in the world. I know this stuff. But I genuinely felt upset. So how does these two worlds fit? One seems frivolous to most (what is it contributing really? etc), and the other a lot more serious. A lot more.
It just doesn’t make sense that something that makes me feel so alive and such a part of God could mean nothing in the whole scheme of things.
How does it work?