Old Music…New Sounds


I’m not a fan of pop music. While I admit tunes are catchy and great to dance to on a Saturday night because it’s the only to song to which you can collectively act stupid with your friends in the bar, it’s meant to do that. Fun. Different from your personal music– more what speaks to you, and on a deeper level that’s an uncharted territory only you as the listener are willing to explore and appreciate.

Maybe it’s cause I’m old or just a bad case of  hipsterdom, but I’m rarely finding any new music I like these days. The most I’ll give is to the likes of Bastille and HAIM, but, really, that’s about it. The bands I listened to back in the late 2000s have all disintegrated or taken a more mainstream linear direction (even though this song is admittedly good). And then I’ve realized, it all coincides with how I write lately. Which is, scarcely. Back in those 2000s I wrote practically every day something towards my first big novel at the time, the creativity was just flowing pristine and undisturbed. I wasn’t alone in all of that, because there was Green Day, The Fratellis, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, Muse, and The Bravery. They were all shelling out a shit ton of new albums and I was up and coming in my own musical adolescence to take them on– timing is everything, isn’t it? Their new and inviting sounds of alt rock invigorated my passion for writing, writing stories to which their songs would be the soundtrack. Not just the melodies, either, but the lyrics too, particularly with bands from England which I found to be delightfully full of stories about small-town run ins with the cops and coming home from uni to your best mate’s house party. British indie was something new in music for me I never realized before– social commentary at its simplest and dryly insightful. A young writer’s gold mine.

Now there’s no feeling I get when there is something new, or no particular song from the last 5 years I want to listen to as I sit here now.When all these bands started out, they were quite genuine in what they wanted to achieve, now I feel what they produce now is just something completely different altogether from what made me love them in the first place. The trick is just to keep writing I guess to what you know, what you love. Why try to search for something new from new stuff when you know the old had the fuel? If it inspired me then, it should still do so now–perhaps in new ways. You can’t hold music  to one emotion; it’s a fluid and deep abyss that’s just there when you need it, when you need something happy or sad or pissed. It’s not gonna stand you up. That’s probably something I should learn from Matt, who’s such a classic rock junkie and refuses to listen to anything on the radio.

The past is torturous, but ultimately, it’s what makes you happy. Music helps relive those greatest moments intimately, more so than a basic photo might do, because it pinpoints those exact emotions. With any song we’ve fallen in love with, their sounds take us back somewhere, to a somber memory, to that exhilarated feeling that overcame us when we turned up the radio or knew what song the band would perform next when you saw them live in concert. Below is one of those sentiments. Picture the dark, it’s almost midnight and I’m in a car with my sister and her ex-boyfriend driving him back to his college dorm room in San Francisco. I sat in the front seat and somehow I got to listen to Favourite Worst Nightmare in the CD player, this song coming up as we coasted across the twinkles of the Bay Bridge lights and the city came into view.

And now, as I give this song another go, on a foggy day here at my desk at work, I wonder at what else just might spring from this oldie that means much more than a good melody.

Flash Nonfiction: Some Faith

A few years back I was seeing a guy who was funny and kissed my temples and showed me off to his coworkers at a very lovely restaurant. Also a real mess. One of those nights I never heard from him– no one did. Even his brother posted a Facebook status asking ANYONE where he was and if they could reach him at ___ phone number with any info.

That night as I sat quietly in my bedroom with the door closed and my heart in a hyperventilating twist, my friend on the phone told me that Bernie Mac had passed away that morning so everyone was praying to Bernie for his safe return. Well he came back after a stolen bike and drunken stupor onto the wrong BART train into Richmond for nine hours, so I guess I have Bernie Mac to thank, but we stopped seeing each other months later so maybe I have him to thank for that too.