Approximation of Music

I am having difficulty.  Music is such a huge part of my life, but I can’t seem to write about it.  There’s something akin to taking a picture of a sculpture– the two dimensional space isn’t enough to capture the volume and heft.  If I could capture what music does perhaps I wouldn’t need the music.  Still, I’d like to articulate what it is to find the right song for the right moment.

Music has always been a large part of my life.  I cannot count the number of grungy loud punk and ska shows I went to in high school.  It was always more than just the music though–we piled into cars with our uncertain teenage selves and danced ourselves sweaty.  We tumbled into all night diners for french fries and muffins (and, memorably, the mixed vegatables at Louise’s. But only the once).  I met the boy who would later be a man I loved at a battle of the bands and I dyed the wall pink with my freshly colored hair the next time I saw him and the first night we really talked.  I don’t remember the bands from either night with any sort of specificity but it was always more than that.

If anything my love of music has become stronger, and the music itself matters more.  My love has evolved, as I would hope anything would over a decade.  I am no longer the girl who blasts The Aquabats and Inspecter 7.  I listen to things now that I would have never given a chance then.

I am attempting a project.  An essay of collected vignettes, moving through genres.  I have a suspicion the form will change as I work with this, but I need to convey what music is to me.  Here is an early draft of one of the sections.  At best, any of this will be an approximation.  I think a mix cd will have to accompany the finished piece.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.


I am in the passenger side of my roommate’s car.  We have Hercules and The Love Affair on and we are singing along but the music is too loud to hear anything.  I am dancing as best I can beneath a seatbelt, writhing my body against the constraints to the heavy pulse.  We are returning home and he swings around the traffic circle at the corner by our house but instead of pulling beside to his parking spot he keeps the wheel cocked to the side and we continue to turn.  Again and again, we loop. Four, five, six times, my seat-dancing arrested with the centripetal force, my singing caught into laughter, the music vibrating down my backbone.  He finally cuts the wheel back but we aren’t returning—we are tearing up the hill and away.  At each intersection I expect another spin but he has other plans.  We crest the hill and to our left is the park, sleepy with night.  He pulls the car to a stop and as he slowly begins to K turn I think we are retreating.  Then he has pulled forward where I thought impossible.  I feel the wheels bump over the curb and the path seems too small but we fit—there are swings to our left, the dark fields to our right, the park expansive.  We should not be here, and he turns the music even louder.  I am laughing too hard to speak, the park passes on either side—this is where dogs are walked and children run and we are a car tearing through the path, the music more than can be contained within this small space, our faces lit by the dashboard light.  With a second bump we are over a curb on the opposite side, the path has spilled out and we are back on the street, careening home.

Later I ask how did you know we would fit? How did you know it wouldn’t just end in the middle of the field? and he grins. I didn’t.