Music arouses a visceral tug in the gut, forcing hair on end, spilling chills down spines, and demanding every cell in between tune itself to the vibrations of another’s output.
And I’m only getting doused with the peripheral yield.
How do musicians handle the amperage? I don’t mean performers but the people who play, write, and refine until they bleed.
Perhaps I’m romanticizing the process—writing is often a high but sometimes it’s a tedious crawl through the semantics of thought and language.
That’s not the aspect of musicianship I’m referring to; I’m referring to the frantic energy rarely generated through careful preparation and slow, deliberate steps.
I’m talking about writing raw. Again.
It’s difficult to wrestle words and thoughts and feelings to a standstill some days. Ask me to do it while plugged into an electric field—a live animal—with that crazy-ass drug galvanizing my senses and completing the circuit, the needle in the only vein I might recognize?
Words, consonance, rhythm—an irrational, metronomic pulsing of cadence and syllables juicing the nervous system and coursing through head and heart until the body is tuned to a series of notes and sounds, until nothing else matters but the next change, exchange, bridge…
Not words alone but progression, accentuation, reverberation, something more, something more, something so much more than one letter connected to another. A single whole tied with sound and bound by harmony.
Condensed thoughts—poetry made flesh through percussion and melody, disconnected from the stability of the page to pull us into its three dimensional madness. Breathe in electricity, breathe out music, keep the hair on your arm down, your saliva dry, your palms from sweating.
Words divorced from their music become peculiar amputees. They are no longer potent though potent they may be if never put to music in the first place.
Music is a legitimate language of its own. Was it ever a question?
I want to be reincarnated as Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen. Tom Waits because he’s so fucking precise; Leonard Cohen later because he’s so fucking holy. And Nick Cave, just because it’s Nick fucking Cave.
That amperage, that amperage…
That amperage seeping into my soul through my ears; that amperage cleansing the cobwebs of the days, the years, the scars—that amperage taking me everywhere I need to go and abandoning me in the places I desire/fear/am obligated to tread.
But only because I volunteered. Choose me. And the music did. Just not my own. I got the words without the chords. Better than nothing. Better than nothing at all.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m grateful. But…but…
Words seize, invade, evade, grope, undo, re-do and more. They transmogrify and leave lives permanently altered. Add music to that elixir and what the hell?
What would you ever need cocaine for except to numb your senses against a staccato flow beating through atom and vein?
Maybe it’s a silencer, a distraction, a dubious muzzle to quiet what’s happening inside, that relentless lack of slumber that occurs when the lights are on and everything is running at full fucking juice, when everything pulses full tilt and you’re trying not to get crucified by your own energy.
Swearing is necessary when discussing such things.
This isn’t a discussion of where the fucking dessert fork goes. This is about music, and no church-words will ever contain or convey what happens when it happens, what happens to every artist whether they use words or paint or progress from a to b to d fucking minor.
I asked Helene Montpetit about this, she being a former singer/songwriter and wonderful writer-friend. She shrugged, non-plussed by the question. It made me laugh—not at her but at my own apparent weakness and susceptibility.
I write, therefore I depend on others for the rest of my fix.
Chocolate Jesus perhaps.
And then, what next?
Not sure. Don’t care. As long as someone writes a fucking song about it…