If you were to pop into the South 4th Bar & Grill on any given day of the week, say between the hours of 10am and 4pm – aside from surprising the living crap out of me – you’d find me working away on my laptop, and it would look something like this. From my perspective. If you were in the picture. Whatever.
I was thinking, on my walk over here today, about pop music. I think the best songs, of that ilk, work like an emotional lozenge. They contain a compact, swallowable and radio-friendly version of an emotion like Regret or Unrequited Love, and because everything in the song is concentrated on eliciting that single emotion (the rising strings, the somber singing), it works.
This is all relevant for me, because I am often motivated to write by music. I’ll find myself mysteriously moved by some song, and try to figure out all the elements that make up my emotional response. It’s like reverse-engineering a recipe: “Hmm… it’s Loss, but there’s a hint of Guilt in there, too. And is that- Relief?” (That would be Eels/Daisies of the Galaxy).
It’s a highly alchemical process, and can drive people around me nuts because I have to keep listening to the same song over and over again. And as I wrap up my grad school applications, I find myself searching for new inspiration. It’s a lot like wanderlust; that feeling that you’ve got to make preparations for a journey. But I’m having a hard time finding something that moves me.
So I wonder if I’ve outgrown the emotional lozenge stage of life? Feelings don’t overwhelm me as completely as they once did, and there is no longer a single “tone” to each emotion. Loss now has a beautiful ring to it; it’s been muddled with Love and Growth. Regret is now peppered with Nostalgia, and vanilla-scented Comfort.
Perhaps, as we grow older, the signals from our child-brain grow more attenuated: forced to compete with signals indicating self-doubt, fear of the unknown, and the urgency of procreation. Or perhaps, as we investigate the emotional terrain, it somehow becomes less familiar.
Either way, you should really check out this song: Eels – It’s a Motherf#cker.