In writing a letter once about my passion for music, a simple pair of short phrases came to my mind:
“Lyrics are language; melody is motivation.”
It’s become the unofficial battlecry, the raison d’être, of the site. Every hour spent standing on my bum knee and ankle, every late-night session of furious typing, every minute of the morning commute spent tapping jot notes for reviews ultimately comes down to those two short statements.
I grew up on music, raised on it as much as I was on food, surviving on chords and choruses as much as oxygen. When I could barely speak, Queen’s “Radio Ga-Ga” called to me. When forced to act out the lyrics of a song for a drama assignment from hell, I took on Glass Tiger’s “Watching Worlds Crumble” while peers opted for short 60s tunes or Weird Al. When bullying began in earnest, I turned up Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” and understood that I was neither the first nor the last, but I would be okay (better than “Jeremy”, in any case).
I had music, and it was everything.
I speak openly of music and its power because I’m not the only one to feel it has kept me alive, no hyperbole. I’m perhaps one of the few music writers who will say so, but I can tell when reading the words of others if music has been a literal lifeline at some moment or perhaps several of them. I can hear it between the lines of the best of songs.
There’s a reason certain artists draw crowds of fans who will follow them along tours. There’s a reason so many of us wax poetic and plain on the subject. There’s a reason that every major life event — weddings, funerals, graduation — brings with it a song.
Music feeds our spirits, keeps us alive.
When people don’t possess this deep reverence for music, this complex love affair with the intangible that touches us all the same, I point to this song to help them understand it. Anthem, mantra, whatever you want to call it — it’s my story. Perhaps it is yours as well. Perhaps I will hear it tonight at Andrew McMahon’s show; perhaps not.
I do know this: when he hits that stage, I will feel just a little more alive. I will feel saved once again.
“Swim” – Jack’s Mannequin