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If music be the food of love

Oh hi.

I haven’t written in about six thousand years, and for this I apologize. Profusely.

Please know that as per my other absences of significant length, this here blog was never far from my mind, and in truth I was often struck by ideas and stories that I wished desperately to share, but I just never seemed to be able to glean enough time to just sit down and write.

Over the past three months I have started a new job, run a few races, recorded some radio shows, bicycled many, many kilometers, and repeatedly told myself whilst looking in a mirror “HOLY HELL I REALLY NEED TO DYE THESE ROOTS.”

(Still haven’t done anything about that last item, alas.)

Anyways, what I really want to expand upon at this moment has nothing to do with my brunette self valiantly battling against my bottled blond, and everything to do with music.

Namely, the world-transcending, soul-shaking music that makes us weak-kneed, and wet-eyed. The music that stops you dead in your tracks so that twenty years on you remember the exact moment when you first heard that song.

The music that seemed to save your life, or make your life, and the music that continually gives you life.

The music so perfect that it makes your heart ache with such a sweet melancholy you would swear it was magic.

That music.

A couple of weeks ago I read the awesome “We Oughta Know” by Andrea Warner. Part memoire, part music criticism, it looks at how four Canadian women (Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morisette, Celine Dion, and Shania Twain) dominated the cultural landscape between 1993-1997. It’s a wonderful read – poignant, smart, funny, and incredibly relatable.

For me, reading about Warner’s love for McLachlan was like looking into a mirror (and seeing less roots, and more my tortured fifteen year old self who found so much solace in Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.)

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I absolutely loved this album. (Just typing these words seems much too trite a way to sum up how much this collection of songs meant to me.)

Sarah spoke to me like no other artist could.

As a fervent feminist, who was unabashedly unashamed of my budding sexuality (in a world that heatedly contested both of these things) who was also taller, ganglier, and more pimply than an Ent Wife, this music made me feel sane.

It made me feel beautiful.

It make me feel sexy.

And it made me feel like I wasn’t alone.

This weekend Marc and I were up at his parent’s cabin on the Sunshine Coast. One of the best things about this place, besides the overwhelming beauty, tranquility, and perfection of the house and its surroundings, is its EPIC record collection.

We’re talking about music ranging from Nana Mouskouri, to the Rolling Stones, to Rod Stewart, to Swiss orchestral folk tunes, and everything else in between.

But the one record that I play the moment I get there (and then multiple times during our stay) is U2’s The Joshua Tree.

I swear on my life this may just be the best album ever recorded.

I feel like crying every time I hear the opening strains of Where the Streets Have No Name. It’s like an automated response buried deep inside of me.

Marc and I spoke at length about the ways in which music is now accessed – how different is in with social media, streaming, and downloading.

About how crazy it would have been to be a teenager in Ireland in the 80s; about what music would have been available, and how it would impact your life and on so many different levels (individually, social-politically, religiously, etc.)

Whereas today, with the internet, everything is available to everyone all of the time.

Gone is that magic of hearing that one song on the radio, and then going out and buying that album, or that tape, or that CD, and then having your mind blown as you discover all of the other tracks that you never even knew existed.

So much of the initial, magic sense of discovery is not only gone – but the mechanisms of it are no longer even in existence.

And I find that weirdly tragic.

The last time I was completely bowled over (soul-shakingly so) by band was when I had the insane opportunity to see Future Islands and Spoon perform at Malkin Bowl here in Vancouver.

Spoon has been one of my favourites (if not my favourite) band for a number of years, but I only really knew Future Islands peripherally.

Without waxing eloquently at lengthy (and sounding completely hyperbolic in my praise) they were hands down the best band I’ve ever seen in concert.

It wasn’t even because of their music – which was brilliant, and fun, and made me dance like a mad woman of the first order.

It was all because of Sam Herring’s insane stage presence.

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I have never in my life seen a performer give so much of himself on stage. Watching him was unlike anything I have ever witnessed. It was pure energy and love.

It was madness, and genius, and inspiring as hell.

The next morning I woke up and ran twenty-five kilometers because everything in my body was telling me to go out and partake in something similar. And I did the entire thing singing Seasons in my head. (Half-smiling and half almost-crying.)

(I realize I may have a problem with this crying thing. But I’m okay with it.)

There have been so many other times throughout my life where I have been struck dumb by some amazing song, or brilliant band, or with how intrinsically perfectly a tune has married itself to a life event or milestone.

And I take solace in knowing that this is not strange.

Because music is so much that which shapes our hearts.

It is what makes our love.

It is our heart.

It is love.

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Not all of me

“And then it struck Oleg that Shulubin was not delirious, that he’d recognized him and was reminding him of their last conversation before the operation. He had said, “Sometimes I feel quite distinctly that what is inside me is not all of me. There’s something else, sublime, quite indestructible, some tiny fragment of this universal spirit. Don’t you feel that?”

– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Cancer Ward

I read the majority of this book last week as I lay on the blindingly hot sands of Oahu’s Waikiki beach.

I feel almost ill at ease admitting this fact. As if my enjoyment of the book should be muted, having loved it in a land so starkly foreign from the places birthed in its pages.

But like so many great works, all it did was awake a thirst.

A desire.

To feel.

To need, and be needed.

To kiss that sublime.

And be.

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