The one constant in my life….no, the *only* constant in my life has been music. It’s everything. I’d rather go to a music festival or a concert than to any exotic location. I know, it’s more of an obsession than a hobby. It can be intoxicating, thought provoking and life changing. I can map my life out, recollect memories and sometimes even change my mood entirely, just with music. There is a song for every occasion, every event, every emotion, every person. I will never ever understand someone who doesn’t like music. They’re wrong.
That’s not to say my tastes are cool. The very opposite in fact, I’m desperately uncool and this is reflected in my music collection. Do I care? Not a bit. No music snob has ever relied on the power of a lyric like I have. They’ve never felt understood by a melody like I have. They’ve never cried all night to an album like I have and they certainly haven’t listened to a song about a tormented, desperate child, wanting to do evil, horrible, twisted things, and identified with it like I have. There really is a song for every feeling and I think I’ve experienced them all, sometimes even all at the same time. There’s nothing like losing yourself in the rhythm in the middle of a field as the sun is setting and you’re surrounded by thousands of people, but you could be alone with your thoughts, lost in the beat, lost in the words.
Songs come and go. As we grow, our likes and dislikes change. Genres change. Voices change. Some though, are constant. My biggest comfort is listening to a singer, baring their soul, and knowing they’ve been where you are now. That they’ve experienced the same soaring highs and the same dreadful lows. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve pumped my fist along to ‘Battle Born,’ the most memorable being at Wembley last year.
“When they knock you down,
You’re gonna get back on your feet.
When they break your heart,
When they cause your soul to mourn,
Remember what I said,
Boy you was battle born”
Then there are fonder memories. Ones of dancing around my parents’ living room at the age of 9 or 10, singing along to Kim Wilde’s ‘You Came’. Copying the dance routine to a Bananarama song with my two best friends in the school playground. Waking up early to watch the first play of Kylie’s ‘Hand On Your Heart’ on Saturday morning TV. Listening to U2’s ‘Electrical Storm’ while the thunder rumbled ever louder on a Summer’s evening. Watching the Glastonbury coverage last year and immediately downloading the entire Arctic Monkeys back catalogue that went on to become the soundtrack to a relationship. Months later, listening to AM which became the soundtrack to the breakup. Kissing the boy I loved more than anything in the world, with Darren Hayes’ version of ‘In Your Eyes’ playing on a loop in my head.
“And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside”
So many others. The unforgettable sight of tens of thousands of people all jumping up and down to Robbie’s ‘Let Me Entertain You’ at Knebworth. Still the best gig of my life. Last year, telling my then boyfriend how much I missed mix tapes, then sending him a song every night after we got off the phone, so he could get to know me even better than I thought he did, because my songs are every bit a part of me as my eyes, my voice and my heart. The very first song I sent him was ‘Flashback’ by Calvin Harris. In turn, he introduced me to Del Amitri’s ‘Driving With The Brakes on’.
“It’s hard to say you love someone
And it’s hard to say you don’t.”
Then the darkest days. There have been many. Listening to ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ by Arctic Monkeys and knowing every cringeworthy word was still true, for someone who didn’t deserve it. Kal Ho Naa Ho, (whether tomorrow comes or not), the Indian song that will always remind me of my favourite aunt’s funeral. When The Drugs Don’t Work forever being the song I associate with her final months.
Being at a U2 concert with an ex boyfriend and both of us instinctively turning to each other, hugging and crying to ‘With Or Without You.’ More than any other, the album that has held my hand the most, in my darkest of hours, is ‘The Tension And The Spark’ by Darren Hayes. Songs like Darkness, Void, Hero, Feel, but above all, Unlovable.
“You abandoned me”
Never has a song spoken to me like that one. I wore it out 9 years ago and it did the job again last year. I’ve listened to it a lot today. There may be another song with those sentiments, but I haven’t heard it. It perfectly captures that need when you’ve given everything to someone who didn’t treasure it, nurture it or appreciate it and threw it back in your face, to take it all back. All the words, all the tears, the shared secrets, the intimacy, everything. Knowing you can’t. That you shared them because you were led to believe otherwise. The anger you feel at the realisation. Knowing you’ll forever be that bit more cynical and jaded. Knowing they didn’t care enough. Was it because they were incapable of it or because you were so unlovable? Having that question answered when you see them share those things with someone else. Leaving you once again with your best friend, your sad song.