Too many mental tabs open today.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Aural Fixations

Yesterday I had planned to write about music, I was inspired by an album I listened to on the way home from Dr. Phil. When I finished writing about the session and fear it was way too long and I figured I'd just do it today.

Then I heard the awful news, Alex Chilton had passed away. Chilton was the singer and guitarist of Big Star, one of the most influential rock groups to emerge from the early 1970s and a personal favorite of mine. Big Star was without a doubt, the influence behind many of the tunes that flow from my iPod. Chilton was only 16 when he took the Box Tops to No. 1 with the classic hit "The Letter." I was crushed and saddened at the news, Big Star was set to play SXSW this weekend, the show has now turned into a tribute and memorial, and any hopes I had of seeing them live are gone forever.

If you don't know Big Star, please check them out.

Now back to my regularly scheduled rambling. So during my after our appointment with Dr. Phil I played a Snow Patrol album that I love. One of the songs made me think of D and what he must have felt like before he sought out our therapist:

I just keep hoping that your heart opens

I know that's what he wanted, to get back to that time and place when my heart was open and love flowed freely.

It's not as easy as willing it all to be right
Gotta be more than hoping it's right
I wanna hear you laugh like you really mean it
Collapse into me, tired with joy

I loved this song since it first came out of my car speakers years ago, and I suppose I always knew why. It goes way back to my fascination with music and the importance of it in my life. Being shy, quiet and intimidated for most of my existence, I internalized everything. Couple that with abuse, oppression and insecurity it's no wonder I had no voice. What couldn't be quieted were the feelings and emotions I had, but they were just stuck inside my head and heart, waiting to be free. Then I heard "The End" by the Doors. Jim Morrison's deep hypnotic voice was not only only beautiful but he sang with such pain that it almost seemed comforting. I was pretty young but I recognized what he was feeling, I was suddenly obsessed with this band and troubled singer. I read all I could find on Jim Morrison, being a latchkey kid actually had some advantages, and I spent a lot of time in the library when my mother thought I was home.

Music suddenly became an outlet for me, while I had no musical ability whatsoever (and still don't) I released my emotions through the music I played. I found songs that said what I wish I could and played them over and over (insert your aural pleasure joke here). I have been doing this for years. I know something "speaks" to me when it's instantly familiar although I've never heard it. When I meet people that share my taste I know that not only are they awesome (insert smile here) but they most likely will become a permanent part of my life. This doesn't happen too often but when it does I'm thrilled. In fact I found out about Alex Chilton because one of these friends had his picture as his Facebook profile, I clicked and found out the terrible news, I suppose it seemed right to come from the person that really got me obsessed with Big Star in the first place, thanks CB.

I've been medicating through music for years now. Playing songs that told my story and spoke for me when I was too scared. I would even spin tunes that said all the things I wanted to hear as well.

It's hard to argue when
you won't stop making sense
But my tongue still misbehaves and it
keeps digging my own grave with my
hands open, and my eyes open

That was D telling me that he knew I was right and that he knew he's wasn't doing the right thing. On the same album I was telling him things too:

For once I want to be the car crash
Not always just the traffic jam
Hit me hard enough to wake me
And lead me wild to your dark roads

hear me

Headlights before me
So beautiful, so clear
Reach out and take it
'Cause I'm so tired of all this fear

save me

My tongue is lost so I can't tell you
Please just see it in my eyes

love me

I played these songs for D today, he said he never really listens to the lyrics, as a musician I suppose he sees (and hears) it differently. I'm glad I have the tools to speak now, this process would have taken a long time. Music has gotten me through so many tough times and hearing something from those times is like seeing an old friend. I don't remember the bad parts, just the music and lyrics that got me to a better place. I am still rarely without a soundtrack, I don't think that will change and I don't want it to. While I now have the ability to speak my mind and ask for what I want, I still need to know that there are others out there, struggling to get it right and learning when it goes wrong.

So in the words of Alex Chilton:

Years ago I was all set to go
and I've been trying hard against long odds
It gets so hard at times like this to even hang around
I can either stand or fall
and I believe I'm gonna stand tall


  1. People think it's macabre that I am creating my own music playlist for my funeral but like you, music has gotten me through the most traumatic moments in my life. As well as the euphoric moments, too. I almsot felt like a voyeur seeing the FB exchange between you and CB over Alex Chilton. But I smiled because I got it.

  2. Of course you got it. I must immediately make a funeral playlist. You are a genius!!