Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Joy and Pain


I've found myself reconnecting with old music lately, songs I used to listen to in childhood, which still have happy, and some bittersweet memories attached to them. Some I used to play while doing chores and cleaning the house growing up. In some cases I am reconnecting with entire albums.

I've always been a fan of Sting, finding a sort of poetic brilliance in his lyrics. The "Soul Cages" album was one of my favorites for that reason. We had a stack of old vinyl records given to us at one point, and there were so many wonderful artists among them, The Police, Pat Benatar, Jackson Browne, Dire Straits, Heart, Kate Wolf, Jethro Tull, Simon and Garfunkle, The Beatles… The warm sound of the vinyl and the barely audible skips brought out by overuse, feeding through the needle and into the speakers, audible art flooding the house, as I cleared dust, and carried firewood. There was always something wonderful about dropping the needle in the groove, and letting sounds spiral out of something so simply dark and mysterious. I have a fondness in my heart for old cassette tapes as well, as I remember hours spent listening to the radio for a particular song, or recording mix-tapes and trading with friends who spent their time doing the same. My prize possession as a teenager was not a tv, or a gaming console, it was a stereo with a dual cassette deck.


I have an appreciation for our electronic formats which have enhanced and deepened the quality of recorded tracks, to help bring out the finer details of a piece. I find so much of the poetry in old music as relevant to today, as some of the new art being produced. Then there are old favorite songs like "Money for Nothing" I laugh at for their very clearly dated content.

My life would not be complete without music and poetry, art and stories. I find a balance of hope and despair among the words and notes. Just as this morning, I find the same in life. My friend had her baby sometime last night, a beautiful baby girl, a child hoped and prayed for, for such a long time, and only finally able to come after my friend lost her mother to cancer. I got to see a picture of a proud and beaming father holding his child for the first time, exhausted, but relieved. I imagine at this point they are resting and will get more information and pictures out later, but they have waited so long just to have this baby in their lives, and I am so ecstatic for them. They are beginning a journey in their lives, that I am slowly making my way to the end of in my own. In some ways I envy that, but mostly, I just smile, because I have an idea of all the great things awaiting their little family, as their daughter grows.

Then I turn on the news to a suicide bombing in Manchester, a concert full of young people, taking time out of their lives to appreciate music and art, some of them losing their lives for the crime of simply being there. I think of all the parents who have lost their children much too soon. I think of the young people whose parents may have been lost attending the concert with them, and I ache for them all. The killing is so senseless. I don't understand our world, and why it has to be so very terrible when it can also be so very wonderful. Despair and hope. No wonder we humans have such a craving for music and poetry, art and stories. How do we otherwise reconcile the juxtaposition of such extreme states of existing?

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