Sunday, September 29, 2013

Music and writing: creating a moment to last forever

I love writing and composing music. My books have sold okay but my music has been primarily for personal enjoyment and secondarily to serve as a plot device in my scifi novels, Socialite1. (The characters in those books wrote songs and comedy skits for a recurring neighbourhood variety night.) Recently, however, I began a new job, and my focus has been away from personal creative projects. I love my job, but haven't found that balance between working outside the home and working on my own projects. The dream of course, remains the same, to write something that will do for others what literature and especially music has done for me: create a permanent mental oasis in time.

Most of us have that one song we love, that most people have never heard. For me, it's "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens (I attached it at the end of this post). It's my happy song: the song I play when I'm feeling down, because it provides a pure escape. It's one song that resets my mind.  It doesn't have to be just one song, though - on rainy days, for example, I always feel like listening to Supertramp.

In fact I am constantly finding a private oasis in the works of others. The NY Times ran an article today about Bernie Taupin and Elton John. Their relationship, of course, is magical and, now, pretty much legendary. The article doesn't really add much to what has already been said and written about the duo. It was motivated by the release of their new album , of which there undoubtedly will be at least one song that I will love. I saw Elton perform a new song, Home Again, at the Emmy's last week and was impressed: in my opinion it was one of the strongest songs he has written in a while. I probably won't like everything on the new album, but after that performance, I am sure their will be at least one song that will stick with me forever.

And that's how it is with music, a lot of it does not resonate at all, then we find something that transcends our life, removes us from today into a singular moment in which nothing else matters. Sometimes it's a whole performance that can do that. I watched Arcade Fire on SNL last night, and after SNL during the NBC special, Arcade Fire "Here comes the night time." WOW! The whole show was intense, unusual and creative. Tina Fey was right when she introduced the after-SNL music segment saying, "Things are going to get weird!" The music was amazing, the show, well a little weird. The song "We Exist" was phenomenal, way better than the disco-like "Reflektor" that is playing on the radio - it really doesn't do much for me. But even more outstanding was their last song, "Normal People." The whole show felt like it was about a minute long - despite it running a full half-hour.

Millions of people watched the same show that I did last night, yet each person felt the music in their own way. I wonder how many enjoyed it as much as I did.  But, really, who cares if the artist's music appeals to millions or not: any song has the potential to be important to each of us, and that is all that really matters. Even if a song doesn't sell millions of copies, it may still have that unique effect on just a handful of people. Like the Steven's "Chicago" - it didn't become a smash hit, but for me and many others, it is timeless and important.

And that is motivating for me: to know that even if only a few people ever get to hear my music, or read my books, time may stop for one of them, as it does for me while I am writing.

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