I really do enjoy music, though.
I have a soft spot in my heart for banging old tyme rock and roll now and then. Give me Metallica, AC/DC, Motley Crue — any of those wild hair bands. Turn it up and shake the rafters…turn up the stereo and dance in front of the speakers.
I also am a whitebread, Midwestern suburban girl. My growing up years were safe and boring. The few licks of trouble I got into were pale in comparison with others I know. And have heard of. So my imagination has to take over for my lack of experience.
I know a lot of people LIVED the 60s and 70s — hung out, burned out, wilded out their youth, gaining experience and insight I will never be privy to. The high highs and low lows of “those days” are things movies are made of. Maybe that’s a good thing in some ways.
When I’m driving home, windows open, blasting “Sandman” from Metallica, I see dark rooms with strobe lights in the corner, scents of patchouli and garlic and illegal leaves swirling above me, heads banging to the beat, air guitars and beer bottle microphones, some band (I don’t know if its THE band) on a stage somewhere, salty with sweat and concentration, letting their souls mix with the beat of the music, crashing and burning and relighting again with the rhythm of the pounding music.
I don’t see needles and junkies and fights and blood. I don’t see people throwing up on themselves and the depths of depression that are liberated with the music. I don’t see black eyes and lost dreams and sliced wrists and empty bottles of Jack or Fleschman’s.
The same is true when I listen to classical music. The upbeat symphonies like Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake or Strauss’s Emperor’s Waltz, I blast at full-speed-ahead. I see picnics in the fields with women in long dresses and men in frocks and crystal wine glasses sparkling in the sunlight. I see gowns and tuxedos waltzing across an enormous ballroom dance floor, the dresses swishing with the rhythm of the music, their beadery reflecting the glint of chandeliers and candlelight.
I don’t see alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty. I don’t see filthy living conditions, barbaric medical treatments, consumption, or life before penicillin and electricity.
I’ve never been to either world. But I wonder. Does this one-way mirrored vision make me a weak writer? Someone who can’t write about those things because I haven’t experienced these things? Or does it make me a great writer, because I can dive into my own imagination and make the world surrounding the music whatever I want?
When I hear a ballad or a rock jam I don’t think about serial killers or drug dealers. I think of my youth — the life I lived, the life I never lived. I can identify with the 60s and 70s and beyond because I made it through them. When I hear a waltz or symphony I think of days gone by, a simpler life, of history and time travel and a time when a night out was a buggy ride to town.
And that’s where the stories come from.
Let music inspire your creativity. Let it take you places you’ve been — and places you’ve never been.
Just don’t throw your back out doing the air guitar thing….