More Than Just A Melody


I’ve always loved music. Listening, singing, playing; it’s always been there. We listen to music for a multitude of reasons. To sing, to dance, to pick us up and even sometimes to bring us down. It stirs emotion, to those who allow it, above and beyond things we’ve ever previously experienced.

Watching an episode of How I Met Your Mother a few weeks ago I was taken aback at the lack of emotion in an emotionally charged episode. All of a sudden, the titular mother launched into an exquisite rendition of “La Vie En Rose”. The result was damn near waterworks. That would be the primary reason I’ve been sparked into writing this piece, to remark upon that incredible thing that is music and the impact, usually involuntarily, it can have in an instant.

Personally, I’ve always had a weird taste in music. My earliest memory of, I guess we’ll say real music, was when I was 8 years old. On the same day, the Greatest Hits of Bowie, U2 and Sting & The Police all entered the house on these wonderful compact discs. Man that’s a refreshing and depressing thought. Myself and my brother remained addicted to all three albums, hearing tales of astronauts, freedom fighters, semi-stalkers and more. What stuck with me most of all though was the stirring brought on in me by “Life On Mars?”. To this day, I couldn’t tell you for the life of me what the song is all about, if it’s all face value or if there are undercurrents I’m missing out on. But that sound, the piano, those strings. The sheer and utter agony and yet deflation in his voice. He was singing about a mousy haired girl running away from home, sailors throwing digs in the dance hall, nothing that should make sense to an eight year old. But when it’s music, it doesn’t matter. It works. It resonates, in every possible sense of the word.

My own tastes in music have varied wildly over the years. I don’t say that to sound arrogant or oh so wildly diverse no, it has simply always bugged me when people feel they must be restricted to one single genre of music and can’t explain why. Growing up, teen discos and underage drinking sure it had to be dance. Sash, Paul Okenfold, Fatboy Slim and the rest. Then came the mini rocker phase, and my first experience of this aforementioned musical prejudice. Just because I was starting to play guitar and listening to Metallica and Nirvana, I “wasn’t allowed” listen to anything else. Pardon my French but bollocks to that. Music is music.

Today I have come around to a weird point musically indeed. Finishing school, through the assistance of a rather legendary English teacher and my father, I discovered Tom Waits. On the topic of those musical moments mentioned above, this man provides more than anyone. Listen to “Martha” followed by “Swordfishtrombones” and wrapped up with “Take It With Me” and try to stifle the tears. Waits directly led onto Bruce Springsteen via a God awful “Jersey Girl” duet, and that obsession can be measured in ticket stubs (9 gigs with The Boss and counting). Yet still you’ll find me throwing on Avicci for a good rave to the grave when I need it and it’s quite likely Freddie White or The Handsome Family or Slipknot could follow in that play list.

This is what it’s all about. Yes, music has traditionally styled genres and factions, but it doesn’t have to. Those who love music, do simply that. If you don’t like certain genres that’s fine, don’t like them. But don’t distance yourself from certain styles just because your other tastes say you have to. There’s few things more saddening than a closed musical mind. With that approach, you’ll miss the heartbreaking moment when Michael Jackson’s voice cracks oh so delicately at the end of “She’s Out Of My Life”. You’ll go your life without feeling the rush of pure energy and emotion as the swell takes over in David Guetta’s “Titanium”. You’ll never reach that moment of grim realisation on the Final verse of Christy Moore’s “Lawless”.

Am I ranting and ravibg about just how God damn diverse and alternative I can be with music. OK yes, but that’s not the point. Music’s sister art, film, doesn’t have this problem at all, with most people happy to watch comedy, drama, action and horror with only slightly heightened interest in one over the other. The narrow vision and lack of open thought towards music is an issue I will forever combat, and happily so. Do it now, throw on that record you’ve always avoided but don’t actually know why (we all have one) and really listen. And if you don’t use what you hear, try it with another one, and again and again. It will happen eventually, and you’ll be thankful for it.

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Bachelors Degree in Arts from NUI Maynooth. Double Honours English & Philosophy.

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