Can you read books and listen to music at the same time? Some people can’t read without their earphones stuck inside their ears. Some need complete silence. I belong to the latter group.
As much as I’d like to engage in these two activities simultaneously, I just can’t. Reading demands my full focus because it’s both intellectually and emotionally entertaining. Music is just as demanding, although I think of it more as an emotional stimulant. Good music makes me feel the mood it tries to evoke in the listener. I feel winter even if I lived all my life in a tropical country or feel the gravity of a breakup song even if I’m not going through one. Good music also helps me write, but it has to be ambient or classical music. Otherwise, I end up straining my vocal cords to hit those high notes.
Some of my avid readers (I daresay there must be at least one, and I am that person) know why I named my blog Book Rhapsody. It was supposed to be a blog about books and music. The musical part of this blog just faded without notice because I find it hard to write about music. When I try to, I feel that my post is mostly fangirling.
Lest you wonder why I am talking about this, today’s assignment at Writing 101, a blogging course organized by WordPress, is about music. I know this is a book blog. That’s why I tried to relate books with music at the beginning of this post. But today’s task is too specific. I don’t think there’s a way out of this, and I want to finish this course that would help me build my blogging habit.
Enough disclaimers. Here’s the task at hand:
Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?
Today, try free writing. To begin, empty your mind onto the page. Don’t censor yourself; don’t think. Just let go. Let the emotions or memories connected to your three songs carry you.
Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice. The frequency and the amount of time you choose to spend today — and moving forward — are up to you, but we recommend a minimum of fifteen uninterrupted minutes per day.
[15 minutes start now.]
Important Song #1: Tiger by Paula Cole, from the album This Fire
I discovered Paula Cole’s music when I was a pimply fourteen-year-old who’s pretending to be a straight guy and who’s afraid to admit that he’s gay. I bought the album because I wanted to separate my musical taste from my cousins’ (they mostly listened to the rock bands of the 90s). I really didn’t know what to expect from This Fire and the only song that I knew then was I Don’t Want to Wait. So it was a risk. And it was a risk worth taking.
Tiger, the first track of the album, asks the following question:
Where do I put this fire
This bright red feeling
This tiger lily down my mouth
He wants to grow to twenty feet tall
I feel that it’s a song that matched what I was going through. I was hiding. I was adhering to people’s expectations. I went out with “friends” because it was not cool to walk around the campus alone, even if these “friends” were not the kind of people whom I would want to hang out.
[Someday, someday, someday I’ll be born]
I was estranged from these “friends.” They organized lunch outs and Saturday movie dates without me. Fine. I don’t like them anyway. I was listening to Paula Cole all throughout this phase. Tiger became the anthem of my coming of age. I stopped pretending that I intended to court one of my girl classmates. I stopped pretending that I enjoyed talking porn with my boy classmates. I became a sort of delinquent. But I was good at school (I still got very good grades) so it didn’t really bother my classmates that I was becoming too angsty for their tastes. Rawr.
Important Song #2: A Matter of Minutes by Shawn Colvin, from the album Whole New You
I came across this song at a very depressing point of my life. It was when I felt that the future held nothing good for me. One of my cousins gave me a Shawn Colvin CD. The actual CD is her greatest hits album. I asked for her A Few Small Repairs album, but this is what she found. I’m super glad of it still.
This is more of a breakup song. Shawn sings about a relationship that doesn’t seem right, and that whatever she does, nothing seems to make the relationship grow.
[I can’t meet you halfway and I can’t have it my way and I can’t give up without a fight]
I’ve never been in relationship before I heard this song, but I replaced the “you” in the song not with an imaginary partner but with life. I felt like I was striving so hard but my life and I were just not hitting it right. I nearly came to that moment when I could say:
I can get myself clean
In a matter of minutes
Get it wrong every time
All of my whole world
And all the things in it
Are hard to, hard to find
I didn’t pack myself up. I almost did, but not like kill myself. I just wanted to run away from everyone. From everything. But I didn’t.
I guess gave in and fought in the way that I know how. I guess it paid off. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I just gave it all up. Where would I be now? Would I be blogging about this same topic? Would I have the same feelings and thoughts? Big questions, but so little time to answer them.
[At this point, my fifteen minutes twist is up.]
Important Song #3: Cloud on My Tongue by Tori Amos, from the album Under the Pink
This is more like a current last song syndrome (LSS) for me. I could select other important songs but this demands that I should write about it. The song has a little story. A girl is in love with a guy who’s in love with everyone. Girl wants the guy to leave her and tells him the following:
You’re already in there
I’ll be wearing your tattoo
I’m already in
Circles and circles and circles again
It’s strange how I could relate to this. But if you remember, I could replace any guy in a song with life. The song could probably be an apt description of my life at many points, and now is one of those moments. I have to stop spinning, but I keep going in circles again.
[Leave me with your Borneo, leave me the way I was before]
I think I have to curl up after I hit the Publish button. No, I’d probably think of a hundred other songs that had a great impact on me. I might even end up making a play list.