Hype Hype Hooray is a biweekly “critique” of the music scene and the blogosphere that feeds it, told through the lens of Jamie Hale, a journalist who likes music about as much as he likes scotch and a firm leather chair. Please enjoy with a grain of salt.
I drive 68 miles an hour down I-205 outside Portland. It’s 11 p.m. and my mind is racing. Dim orange highway lights creep through a haze of dense fog. Hoards of insanities enter and exit my brain at breakneck pace. They are a mass of random associations, phrases that carry no meaning. Words like “leave it to be.” Leave it to be. Leave it to be. Leave it to be. I utter them on loop, my mind a broken record, skipping on the next crazy thought as I hurdle through the open night.
This moment of mania didn’t rise on its own from my strange subconscious. No. It could never. It had help. It was music that brought it to fruition. Music that buzzes madly from my cheap stereo, fills my car, and rolls through my body.
“How could I feel so-so when I’m feeling like a little honey can roll?” it wails. “Tart but not total and I’m feeling like a little honey can roll?”
I drown in the words. The music fills my lungs. My pupils dilate wildly in the night.
Occasionally I meet people who think very little of music. “I don’t really listen to it” they tell me. “It just doesn’t do it for me.” I accept their views, and I make no effort to change them. But that idea, that music is meaningless, has no purpose in their lives, fills me with great sadness.
Music can be so transformative for me. It’s odd. The right combination of frequencies, when coupled with the perfect rhythms, can swirl and mix with the chemicals in my brain to induce some brilliant shade of human emotion–from the deep blues of depression, through tranquil green serenity, to the the wild manic neons that drive me to insanity.
I look back at the music-less souls, my mind drifting in a sea of melody, theirs sitting idly, comfortably on the shore, and I can’t help but be confounded. Why do these songs, these notes, these sounds, have such profoundly different effects on us? Why does it twist my mind, but not theirs?
I remove myself from the catalyst. I turn off the music. I leave the mad world for a moment in reality.
The car engine hums in monotone, revving and whining as I speed to pass a truck, calming steadily as I slow. The pedals squeak gently as I press them. Wind blows through a gap in the door, whistling a doleful tune. My jeans rustle against the worn fabric seat. I hear myself breathe.
Is this the world of the music-less souls? Is it any better, more enriching than mine? We live in two types of reality. In one we hear the world as it is, its subtle beauty told through moments of silence, of solitude. In the other we hear reality interpreted through the human experience, through man-made sounds that act to enlighten our world.
But what do our choices say about us? Does my affinity for music mean I’m uncomfortable with the quiet reality around me? Does an aversion to music reveal a reluctance to twist one’s natural emotional state?
Maybe I’m over-thinking it. I turn the music back on and roll into madness.
I guess I take comfort in affecting myself. I like that sound can change my state of mind. I like that Animal Collective can make me crazy; that The Postal Service can make me introspective; that Kanye can make me confident; that some singer from some other life can sing some strange song that resonates perfectly with my soul, creating a fleeting moment of untold beauty.
I like that I can move on to another song that does the same, in some other, unique fashion. I like that there’s an endless universe of music, growing infinitely larger every day, a bottomless lake into which I can dive and explore, discovering new sounds and new shades of emotion.
Tonight in the car I feel crazy. Wide-eyed, thoughts racing, heart pumping, the music flows through me. It echoes in my ears and pumps chemicals to my brain. I press the accelerator and dig the insanity. I let the crazy thoughts come at me in waves. The music makes me laugh. It makes me feel. It makes me think. It makes me question. It makes me live. It makes me live. It makes me live.