Sunday, 16 September 2012

The music

One of my life’s great pleasures is listening to music on a roadtrip. Loud music on a long drive. I’ve spent enough time in a car without a working stereo to know what it’s like to drive in silence, and I believe that experience has made me appreciate the travelling tunes even more.

There’s something incredibly satisfying in putting on the right music for the right moment. Sometimes the song does more than suit the moment, it is a part of the moment, it creates it. There have been times when I’ve been driving and I’ve come upon a scene of startling impact – maybe the still coastline at dawn, or a dripping wet forest in the mist, or a long familiar street I haven’t driven down for years – and the music is there with me. I know that from that moment on whenever I hear that song I’ll be taken right back to this time and place, I’ll feel it, smell it and live it once more... the sun cruising the dusty roads of South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula with wet salty hair after some long smooth waves at Granites, listening to that unmistakeable guitar sound of The Cruel Sea, Tex Perkins growling ‘my heart is a muscle and it pumps blood like a big old black steam train’, and I’m thinking about travelling the country and surfing unknown waves and camping under the stars by a crackling campfire, I was free, alive, on the loose in the world...

...long straight highways in the rain, as roadtrains howled past with a rumbling gust from their fiery depths, spitting spray onto the windscreen, listening to Bruce Springsteen’s dark smoky sounds on Nebraska as he sings about death row inmates and troubled Highway Patrolmen...

...driving down into Prevelly from Margaret River on a warm Autumn evening and the sun had just set and there was a band of apricot-orange on the horizon, lines of swell stretched away, there was a purple tinge in the air, and I’d just quit my job and left Freo and was moving across the country with all my worldly goods in the car with me and LCD Soundsystem were saying ‘look around you, you’re surrounded, it won’t get any better’ and I believed it.

On this journey I was moving towards a new chapter of life, and on the way I had been weaving between optimistic excitement at this new beginning, and pessimistic apprehension about my chances of finding happiness on the east coast, or anywhere. Some days it took just a simple song lyric to tip the balance one way or the other. A word or two could leave me hollow and shaking, or on the other hand the right song could have me smiling and tapping the steering wheel, singing along loudly and feeling that living this life is a damn fine thing to be doing today.

I’m reminded of a great book I read a while back, Vernon God Little, where the main character is similarly affected. Talking about listening to pop songs and the psychological impact it had on him, he says ‘ get all boosted up, convinced you’re going to win in life, then the song’s over and you discover you fucken lost.’

 My music is precious to me, it helps shape my days, so when I misplaced a case full of twenty four of my favourite cds in Denmark in the south of WA, I didn’t hesitate in reporting it to the local police. The officer took my details and said she’d ring me if it showed up. She hasn’t called so far but the way I see it, the song hasn’t ended just yet so maybe I can still win.
Have you got a musical moment to share?

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