Music - The Universal Language
Before I fell in love with writing, music had my heart. It is, in many ways, the reason I discovered writing. When I was 8 years old, I recall my grandmother pushing me to write my own songs that I could later perform for her, because I was tired of singing the same old songs on the radio. There was something about music that I found so magical. It made me feel like I could be anyone and do anything. A melody had the power to make you feel anything it wanted you to. Then words would begin and you would be hooked. A good song captures attention and, sometimes, your heart.
Remember the days of vinyl? How you would cram album after album into milk crates just so the covers and sleeves stayed in tact. Taking trips down to Sam the Record Man and Music World to sift through countless album covers to find a classic you didn't already own was a tradition. I would be lost in my own world for hours at a time in places like that. Now, music stores are online and just not the same. Today it's all about streaming or downloading everything. We have platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora to deliver endless amounts of music we can enjoy on all types of devices. Call me old-fashioned, but I will take a record player over all this fancy iMusic stuff any day!
Even music doesn't sound the same anymore. Not to mention musicians and vocalists, it's all different. The industry has devolved into a visual sea in which only the most beautiful and sexiest fish are permitted to swim. In my day, it was more about the talent rather than fitting into a particular box or mold that the industry could sell. Sure, they tried to manipulate artists to sell albums even then, but the talent of artists like Freddie Mercury, Phil Collins, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Prince and countless others could never be molded. They were too brilliant not to shine, regardless of the pond they swam in.
Although I have always enjoyed all genres of music, past and present, I think music today lacks the energy it once had. Like the energy in Van Halen's Jump, with that extraordinary guitar solo in the key of B♭ minor. Or how about the six-minute suite in Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody? Their courage and creativity changed the very concept of what rock and roll could sound like. The list of incredible music and songs that will go down in history is endless and includes many written today, but progressive music just doesn't sound the same. Today's creations are wonderful, but they will never match that standard of creation.
Perhaps it stems from the fact that artists today are picked younger and younger, and are easily discovered based on the numerous platforms that are now available to them. Now, I'm not trying to say that they lack ambition or talent, but making continual content for your IG followers doesn't exactly build the same kind of drive as sitting outside a radio station with your band, playing your music in the cold, until they agree to put your stuff on the radio. You know what I mean? Speak to bands like 3 Doors Down, they'll tell you all about it.
And do not even get me started on the lyrical content in music today. Good Lord! With some exceptions, like Adel, Sam Smith, and Billie Eilish, I have no idea what words I am even listening to anymore. Again, there are many more examples of great lyrical creators out there than the ones I've mentioned, but the list is shorter than you'd think. Melody and instrumental renditions are classics, but quality lyrical content is a must to make a song memorable. I think that song-writing is a skill that is not easily attained by most artists today, especially younger ones. How can you possibly write about true heartache when you've never even experienced a relationship? If the feeling isn't real, the words won't be either, and people will know it. You've got to be able to relate to your audience and make them feel what you're writing. If you can't, then you're dead in the water.
I remember a time when a music producer asked me to work with an artist to create a few house music tracks. My job was to come up with lyrical content for that genre of music. Truth be told, my experience with house music was very limited. As a writer, I always found the lyrics to any of those tracks ridiculous. The words didn't make much sense to me, and I honestly didn't know how I could help. I spent weeks coming up with content that was just thrown out, and I couldn't quite find my footing. After countless meetings with both the artists and producers, I voiced that I didn't think I was the right fit for the project. I was a poet in a world where words didn't have to make sense, which for me was pointless. How could I possibly be of any help to them? At our most recent meeting, I overheard someone say, that house music was more about soul-penetrating beats than words. All I needed to create was a statement, a hook that would bring to life a danceable beat, and that's exactly what I did. In saying that, it took much collaboration and hard work to get my words to have meaning in an area that was foreign to me, but I did it. I finally understood the assignment and knew that I wanted to create some memorable lyrics for that track. I understood the importance of it for everyone out there that would be listening to the track.
I just miss some good old fashioned music. More and more, I am becoming truly grateful for growing up in the era that I did. A time when things were more authentic and more enjoyable. Today, everything seems so fast-paced-especially music. To me, music is meant to be savored; to be relished and pondered over. Music has always been and will always be an escape for me. It helps keep me centered and happy. Everything I do involves music-literally everything. I could never imagine my life without it. I could never imagine not being able to hear it again.
I dream of finally being able to get out and enjoy some live music this summer. Perhaps take some guitar lessons that are long overdue and get back into songwriting again. I just finished a songwriting workshop and a webinar, and it made me realize how much I miss lyrical writing. It's been a long time since I picked up Beth (my guitar) and played it. She has a beautiful flavor and sound about her. I miss it! Maybe it's also time to visit a local music store, and take in the smell of vinyl for old times' sake. You know, there are some great little nooks around still. If you live in Toronto, Canada, I recommend a place called Play De Record and Sonic Boom, on Spadina Avenue. If you're an 80's and 90's kid like me, you'll absolutely love these places. It will definitely bring back some memories, I assure you!
I've been feeling very nostalgic lately, and I miss things that really defined who I was. Sometimes, revisiting the past isn't always a bad thing. It's important to remember what gave you life. For me, that will always be music and writing.
Whether you loved the older generation of music or committed to the sounds of today, music is a vibe everyone should keep. It can change whatever state you are in for the better. It can soothe you, encourage you, and re-inspire you. Whatever is happening, music can always be the answer to help settle you. It is said that listening to music every day can reduce your anxiety (decreasing cortisol while increasing dopamine), blood pressure, and pain, as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory. It also helps to elevate your mood by increasing your serotonin and endorphin levels. It is the only drug we need.
I can honestly say that music has saved my life, time and time again. My life would have had absolutely no meaning without its presence.