I reckon I’ve been interested in music, on some level, for the best part of 20 years. I remember the first album I was given and the first that I bought myself. Even at Secondary School, I never really acquiesced when it came to the music my peers were listening to (there’s a surprise!). I preferred to do my own research, discover who I enjoyed listening to, not bothering too much about the ‘Top Ten’ or the latest version of ‘Now, That’s What I Call Music’.
Coming away from the mainstream I found bands such as Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead and Muse (who have created more than the well-known anthems ‘Design For Life’, ‘Creep’ and ‘Plug In Baby’). I started delving a bit further and came upon artists like REM and James. I went back even farther, uncovering treasures from the ‘music hall of fame’: The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, Small Faces, The Hollies,
While at University, alongside some like-minded music fans, I’d go and watch bands play live (I can’t believe this was once my life; I’d now rather scoop out my own eyeballs with a teaspoon than go to a live music event).
Anyone who knows me will know that I never go far without my earphones in. People who don’t know me but recognise me in the street will no doubt have noticed that I’m always wired for sound. You see, what was once a hobby, is now a lifeline.
Think of my iPhone as my life-support-machine, if you like:
Music allows me to go out alone. I can get myself a certain distance from home as long as I have those little white buds in my ears, distracting me from the group of young girls up ahead who will judge me for their own amusement. Or I may find myself alone at a pedestrian crossing, where I will likely have to cross the road in front of queuing traffic and on-looking drivers and passengers. Music keeps me calm when I might otherwise feel stripped bare, exposed, my many, many flaws highlighted in fluorescent colours.
Music in my ears helps quieten the voices in my head, the voices that plant intrusive thoughts and urges. If I turn the volume up high enough, I can even drown them out completely.
Sometimes, when I’m really concentrating on the music, I pick up on certain lyrics. I might spend some time picking them apart, wondering if I have the connotations correct, or if I’m even in the right context. This in turn consumes some of the seemingly endless time stretching before me.
My very favourite lyric right now is from a Hozier song called ‘Foreigner’s God’:
‘Screaming the name
of a foreigner’s God
The purest expression of grief’
I’m not claiming to be an expert when it comes to interpreting song lyrics. But if you take these words out of the song and think of them purely as words, I reckon they could apply to someone so distraught, so overcome with despair, so completely grief-stricken, that they feel deserted by their own God and are appealing to another in search of hope, a promise, a sign. Maybe I’ve been there…and maybe you have your own (ever-welcome) thoughts?