The rhythm of life.

I’ve been curious about people’s perceptions of music ever since the day I went on a first date with a cute girl I had met a couple of times in a night club without having anything close to a substantial conversation with her prior to the rendezvous. As I pulled up in Bessie, my beautiful bomb, she gracefully eased into the vehicle. Her milk chocolate skin was radiating in the presence of the temperamental Melbourne sun. I kissed her on the cheek, asked how she was, then told her she was welcome to choose whatever song she wanted on her royal highness (my I-Pod). She looked at me with an embarrassed look on her face, well I hope it was embarrassment, and told me that she just wasn’t that into music.

“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”
― Langston HughesThe Collected Poems

Aghast at the thought, I stared at her stunned and quipped ‘you don’t like music?’ She hesitated and proceeded to shrug her shoulders. Unfortunately for me she looked so pretty in her tight jeans and grey cardigan. If I wasn’t so shallow I would have kicked her out of the car that very instant. It was never going to work from that point on. I just couldn’t understand how someone could not like music. It’s all around you. There are so many brilliant artists from an unlimited number of genres that outweigh any negative experience you might have had listening to your boyfriend belt out a shocking rendition of Khe Sahn in a dodgy karaoke bar in the heart of some Bangkok slum.

Where would we be without Mozart, Bach and Beethoven? How could you imagine a world where Freddie Mercury hadn’t united opera and rock to create a delightful mix of the weird and the wonderful? How hollow would the phrase ‘sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll’ be without the foundation of rock ‘n roll? I know it is ridiculous to consider a world without a music because it simply wouldn’t exist. We’d all be searching for something to distract us from the stress of our full time work and ease our tired minds with no luck. With music comes relaxation, partying, sensual relations, happiness and grief. Grief is perfectly summed up in the following song by the sacrosanct duo OutKast.

It isn’t simply a couple of songs we play on the radio to stop us cringing from the empty anecdotes radio jocks tell us in the morning and afternoon. It isn’t just an accompaniment to an evening. It isn’t just something to pull us away from the bar. It isn’t just… oh, you get the picture.

Music is the pitter patter in the morning when the rain trickles down on another dull winter morning. Music is the flicking of the pages when we finish another chapter of a book we never end up purchasing from a struggling bookstore. Music is the argument you have with your mother despite us knowing that you love each other with every ounce of your being. Music is the death of your Grandfather, music is the birth of your first niece and music is the 6 month backpacking trip to discover yourself.

For me, everything I do reminds me of a song. My new summer job as a labourer continually causes me to think of Jimmy Barnes’ quintessentially Aussie anthem, ‘Working Class Man’ or Donna Summers’ empowering 80s fem-rock classic, ‘She works hard for the money’. Whenever I think of intimacy I ultimately come back to my ‘feel like making love playlist’ and how I would casually drop it into conversation during a date… my game is far too repetitive. Depending on the beer, I can reel off the song they use in their advertisements when someone orders something of that variety. James Vincent McMorrow’s cover of Stevie Winwood’s ‘Higher love’ comes to mind when Pure Blondes are on the menu, VB just throws me back to the classic VB jingle and when someone, God forbid, orders a Toohey’s Extra Dry, I can’t help but think of Benny Benassi’s remix of ‘Satisfaction’.

Sure, this is an advertiser’s sole intention for me, the consumer to relate a song to their drink but it still illustrates my point. Then again, I might add that being a musical geek gives rise to the notion of finding a song in every situation. You could name dozens of musical numbers that come to mind when speaking about love, redemption, loss and conflict. You’ve got ‘Drink with me’ from Les Miserables when it comes to lamenting and remembering the good days and ‘Nobody needs to know’  from The Last Five Years when one contemplates leaving someone for another and you could go on and on with most scenarios. There’s a song for every situation, there’s a note and an instrument for your current mood and there’s a musical interlude for those times of deep thought and reflection.

But more importantly, there is a song, a note, a quaver, a tempo or just a call of a cicada to remind you of… well, nothing. Some people might suggest that music has to be littered with sparks of emotion and fits of passion, but it can just as easily be about the passing of time as the wind blows gratuitously passed your ears into a current that drifts across the ocean to brush the face of someone thousands of kilometres away. A side note must come after this comment if you are a meteorologist. I have no idea about the mechanics and technicalities of the phenomenon that is wind. It sounded good as I wrote it though so blame my ears.

“Those who dance are considered insane by those who cannot hear the music.”
― George Carlin (originally a Nietzsche quotation)

This girl must have been astounded by how offended I was that she wasn’t into music. As I pressed her further to justify her ridiculous stance, she mentioned that she liked to dance to music when she was out. I began to get tangled in my own confusion. ‘Sure, she’s pretty and petite but she doesn’t like music! However, she did mention she likes dancing… that’s something I suppose. They do say that opposites attract but not liking music is not something I believe the Ancient Greeks would have considered when they made such blinding scientific observations.’

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”

― Plato

She was a commerce student and music and business has had a constantly stormy relationship particularly in recent years as the uncontrollable diabolical influence of pirating has made music a far less profitable venture for corporations. However, so many subsections of the business industry, and there are many of them, radiate with influences of music. Marketers attempt to relate to the ‘consumer’ (I hate that term with a passion) in order for us to buy their product. Stockbrokers probably snort coke to the roars of Jimi Hendrix or Mick Jagger and before you suggest that this is a disgraceful generalisation, I am inclined to suggest that they’d also touch on some bouncier funk and electro tracks before they got back on the job. Accountants need to keep things tight so letting loose with a scotch and a bit of jazz would surely be part of their quotidian happenings. Therefore we could go on and on. I understand that not everyone likes their rice dishes to be accompanied by a bit of Damien Rice or their second reading of Michael Leigh’s The Velvet Underground to the grungy grumblings of Lou Reed and his very own Velvet Underground, but I simply cannot fathom a life without a music. Or more appropriately, music without life.

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
― Friedrich NietzscheTwilight of the Idols

I’m not even sure if that makes sense however it just really felt poignant. Consider it. Peace out, A-Town.

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