These past couple days, I’ve completely immersed myself in music. It’s been research…if one can call music one’s been listening to a million times research. But it’s for one of my current WIPs (I’ve got two going right now), the one I mentioned in my Monday update when I was trying to write lyrics.
Music will have a very prominent part in that story, and I’ve spent hours on Youtube watching videos with the music that’s important to the MCs. Music that’s also been incredibly important in my life.
And that got me thinking.
Do you remember when you were a teenager and discovered something you loved? How that thing consumed you completely, and you loved it with your entire being? A book, a movie, a boy (or girl – not discriminating)?
Or in my case: music. Music has always been an essential part of my life. And while it’s still as important to me as ever, I miss the way I listened to music when I was younger. How I fell in love with new songs or bands or artists. How I scribbled their names in my text books in school (hooligan!) and wallpapered my room with posters of my favorite bands.
How I would lie on the floor and listen to my favorite album and cry because it moved me so much. Touched me to my very core.
When did I lose that? When did I become this practical grown up, who still loves music desperately, but not like before? Sure, I still buy the records. I listen to Spotify and check out videos on Youtube. But when was the last time I laid on the floor in complete darkness and listened to my favorite record so loudly my mother would have exploded with anger if she’d been home?
It’s been decades.
Why do we become so hard to impress when we grow up? When do we lose that enthusiasm and overwhelming love for something we feel in the teenage years? Why do we lose that passion?
Let me paint you a picture: one of my favorite albums when I was a teenager was Mind Bomb by a British band called The The. (I was an alternative girl. I didn’t listen to mainstream music (there were exceptions, of course, but mostly not)). I bought it on vinyl (I’m that old!) in the local record store in the tiny town where I lived, and I listened to it again and again.
Printed on the inner sleeve of the record was the following “instruction” from the band: To obtain maximum pleasure & effect from this album, please play VERY LOUD!, VERY LATE, VERY ALONE…& with the lights turned VERY LOW!
I followed those instructions to a T. Lying on the floor with only the display on my stereo illuminating my room, I listened to the record loudly in my headphones (to avoid disturbing my parents and my brother). I immersed myself in the songs, learned the lyrics by heart, and sang along (or mouthed along, if I had to be quiet). And I felt like he was singing about me.
“You were the girl I wanted to cry with
You were the girl I wanted to die with“
I wanted so desperately to be that girl for someone.
Or this song, originally by The Smiths, but performed live by the singer (Morrissey) in this version. The boy I was desperately in love with when I was fifteen was also a big fan of this band. And I would lie on the floor, listen to this song, think about him, and cry because he didn’t love me back.
“Last night I dreamt
That somebody loved me
No hope – but no harm
Just another false alarm“
I like that I’m older and wiser now than when I was fifteen, but why did I have to become so cynical and hard to impress?
I want that innocent enthusiasm back. I want to be able to lie down on the floor and listen to my favorite album without feeling silly (or fearing I won’t get up again because I’m too old). I miss how my heart started to race when I heard the first notes of my favorite song playing on the radio.
The MCs in WIP#2 (working title Cinnamon) were best friends when they grew up, but were separated when they were fifteen, because the narrator moved away. My story starts when they meet again, sixteen years later. They have inherited that love of music from me, and Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (the song in the second video in this post) is a part of the story.
Here’s an excerpt. Bear in mind that it’s fresh of the presses and completely unedited. And the “it” that they used to lie on the floor and listen to, was Strangeways, Here We Come, the record that song was featured on.
We’d used to lie on the floor and listen to it. Learning the lyrics by heart and singing along, happy we hadn’t been as miserable as the singer seemed to be.
“I can play it now, you know.”
I jerked at the sound of his voice, not having heard him come back upstairs.
“What?” I asked as I looked up at him where he towered over me. All the tension from before was gone, and the corners of his mouth were turned up in a fond smile.
“Your favorite song,” he said and tipped his head down at the record. “If it still is your favorite, that is.”
“Yeah, it is.”
Asher fetched an acoustic guitar from somewhere I couldn’t see—one even more beat up than the one he’d played downstairs—and sat cross-legged in front of me. He plucked the strings, and twisted the tuning pegs a little at the time until all six strings were in tune.
He went from plucking to strumming the first chords, and I smiled as I recognized them. But then he started singing, and every hair on my body stood straight up, and my mouth fell open.
His raspy voice was perfect for the sad lyrics. It was impossibly intimate to sit this close to him and listen to him as he poured his soul into the song. And when he came to my absolute favorite part and sang about how he’d felt real arms around him last night, hot tears welled up in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks, leaving burning trails in their wake.