Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Music Made Me - Part 8

When the Music's Over - The Doors

If I hadn't done my research I would have placed this much earlier in the timeline. But thankfully my sketchbooks are littered with timestamps. They've been invaluable at times for ironing out these fine ordering details. I don't think anyone else cares if this is strictly autobiographical order, but it is important to me. Anyway, the point is that the music I listened to had a tendency to creep into the art I was making. I found some pretty random sketches related to The Doors, and specifically "When the Music's Over".

I don't think The Doors would be the same without the rampant substance abuse of Jim Morrison. Even though I was about as straight-laced of a kid as they make, there's something that appealed to me about Morrison's bat-shit-crazy forays off into the deep. I was oddly attracted to stupid bullshit like "The End". I don't know why I was so damned weird, but I was, and I liked weird things. Even though I was dead sober.

I wanted to appear somewhat normal and pick something like "Riders on the Storm" for this list, which is a song that I love. There are actually plenty of Doors songs that I both adore and are perfectly listenable. But they didn't punch through in the way that those lyrics about "the screams of the butterflies" did. Seriously, looking through my sketchbooks I was one fucked up kid. I don't know why they didn't lock me up.

Ramble On - Led Zeppelin

I actually don't have a concrete time to put in Zeppelin. We're at the point in my story where I'm really delving into classic rock, but it's not like I can point to a Zeppelin record in the way that I can with The Doors. All of my exposure was via the radio, which makes it almost impossible to place.

What I can concretely pinpoint is Lord of the Rings. The moment I started reading those books the evidence was legion in my sketch books. I can give exact dates for when I had hit Weathertop, Moria, Amon Hen, pretty much the whole journey to Mount Doom. I had finally got around to reading what Dragonlance and pretty much anything fantasy I had ever consumed was sourcing from, and I was not disappointed.

So, what does this have to do with Zeppelin? Almost nothing, except the some lyrics in this song punched through to me over the radio. Did he just say "Mordor"? Is this a rock song that has a verse about Gollum? Awesome. Also, this song is great.

Oye Como Va - Santana

At this point should I just say "I discovered classic rock" and leave behind the prose. There are just too many influences washing over me at this point. Delving into a single one seems like giving it undue focus. It's not like I turned into a Santana nut. It's just that this song makes me feel like a particular time in my life. I don't even have a story for this one. I unfailingly think of Noah, and of riding along in the car. It's just a light, fun, happy song that makes me want to dance. Not that I ever would have danced at that age, god no.

Iris - Live

Okay, enough of me blissfully exploring my rock roots. Time for something contemporary.  Time for some melodrama.

I was making friends. Some were rediscovered, but some were honestly new high school friends. Some of them were girls. And I didn't know it at the time, but I was totally going to develop some asymmetric crushes. Alas, no reciprocation for me quite yet. It will come eventually, don't worry.

I don't know how it is you get to associate a particular band or album with a particular set of friends, but it happened all the time back then. I guess when you're young you don't really have that much else to talk about. Music is powerful, and something you can bond over. Well this small group of friends that I'm thinking of are somehow are wrapped up in Live and Throwing Copper.

I combed through the album, which was intensely familiar. "Iris" felt like the right pick to represent how the album made me feel, and how I think it resonated with that group. But honorable mention here goes to "Shit Towne", and the memory of trying to convince Mary's younger sister that the lyric was "Ship Town".

Dishonorable mention to "Lightning Crashes" for completely petty reasons. So the song's pretty good, don't get me wrong. It's got that slow build-up which I like. After lots of natural build it transitions into a bridge at about 3:30. We're still fine at this point. It's how it comes out of the bridge that creates problems. At 4:06 it jumps right back into the chorus, but it feels oddly… deflated. It sounds like when mastering the track someone turned down the volume right at that point. The idea being that the song needed to go quiet again before the finale. But it feels forced. It feels artificial. It drives me crazy every single time I hear the song. And it's in the final part of the song. There's no time for me to recover and feel good about it. I just get dumped at the end of the song feeling used.

There's an underlying note of rejection for me in this whole album. I had a friendship that felt like it should go to another place to me, but the feeling wasn't mutual. Thankfully the friendship survived that. So it's still something I can listen to (although I hadn't in ages), but it's a tad melancholy because I can't quite separate what I was feeling from what I was hearing.

One Headlight - The Wallflowers

There are a couple of things wrapped up in this album. Namely, a hat, a girl named Lisa, and a girl named Francesca.

It's summer break. Not this one. Earlier, I think. I think between 8th and 9th, but maybe 9th and 10th. I'm anxious about the coming year. I have become keenly aware of how volatile friendships are in this scary new world. My mood is poor, but gets immediately turned around by one phone call. The person on the other end is Lisa, who I've known since middle school. I don't have the slightest clue how phone numbers got exchanged and under what excuse a call was initiated. My guess is that it's the only time a phone number dropped in a yearbook got used for the powers of good. Anyway, I don't know how we got to that point, but I ended up chatting with Lisa on the phone. Not in any sort of romantic way, or about any particular topic. Just the idle phone chat that I could do back then that I can't now. The point is I could feel a new friendship being forged. The future all of the sudden looked brighter. Just talking to someone else put me back on an optimistic path.

I remember walking around the house while on the phone. I remember finding a funky old-man hat and wearing it around. I remember feeling self conscious about the idea of wearing it out, but Lisa being totally supportive. Of course I never did. I really wanted to be the sort of person that could, but I wasn't. But I've never forgotten the support from that voice on the other line.

Later Lisa and I actually began to hang out. In school we became math partners. And at some point in there I remember us adopting this song as our anthem.

Many years later I was able to see Lisa again at my high school reunion. I really enjoyed catching up with her. She was one of the only two people there that I realized I probably shouldn't have let drift apart.

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