Strum true

Of all the forms of art in the world, my focus has been writing. I’ve worked hard and steady on my craft, and I’m proud of what I do.

And I look around sometimes and wonder at the other possibilities. I could have focused on music, you know.

Music is magic.

It’s time based. Tempo is part of every piece of music.

It’s temporal. It lives in the time stamp. The music starts and it ends and it’s over.

But for the songs that I hear over and over, they are a time machine. Somehow, they preserve the moment when I hear the song the first several times.

I’ve had that happen to me. Even songs that I didn’t even think much of, if they were on the radio at some moment and I hear them years later


time machine

I’m back to when I heard it, awash in all the feelings. Was I crushing on someone then?  Was I broken hearted?

Now, years later, when I hear the song again, I am right there.

What other kind of art does this?

As much as I love books, that’s not my experience with books.

Music strums our hearts in fantastical ways. It’s a highly exploitable characteristic.

I know. When I played the piano for church, they taught me how to use Major 7th and minor chords to manipulate the pews.

And Madison Avenue and Hollywood have even better tools than a single spinet piano.

Sometimes I’ll hear the soundtrack swell, and my eyes will tear up and narrow at the same time. I’ll feel so betrayed, when the music swells and I am moved while at the same time I realize the story doesn’t deserve this strong of a reaction.

I can feel the music buttressing the weakness of the story itself and it WORKS to a certain level, but only skin deep.

Sincerity matters. Authenticity matters.

Don’t lie to me, music.

Songwriters and performers have a similar relationship. Songwriters have the skills to write beautiful songs, but they often need people whose skill is performing.
That same sort of betrayal can happen when performers who haven’t earned the right to sing certain songs. I think of boy bands.

And then…There are performers who take a song and make it more theirs than the initial performers.

I stumbled onto this video of two guys singing Toto’s Africa. These guys, for an audience of nearly nobody, sang the song better than the band.

I find that so much more moving than a boy band. Music will carry so much of the load, but in the end all art has to be true.

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