Monday, May 28, 2012

Catch the mist, catch the myth

I recently helped my mom pack up her house so she could move into a smaller home in a warmer climate. The entire time we packed, music played on the radio. That’s how it should be. That’s what my life there was - filled with music. Always music.

When I was little, my parents' music played. A little older, and it was my sister’s music on the stereo. Soon enough, I had control of the radio dial when I arrived home from school. And something amazing happened. A four-man band from England lit up the charts with the layered harmonies of a very different type of tune: “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Is it cheap to say the rest was history?

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is the first song I clearly remember listening to and being transported -- not to another place or to a memory, but more…being transported within myself. I’d hear that song and I’d find a quiet, still space within myself. A place from which all things were possible. A place I could go to sketch, to paint…to create. And so it began.

From Queen in the afternoons of junior high, to the relaxed environment of the art studio in high school… First person into the room for art class got to choose the music. There was a true variety of albums (yes, vinyl) to choose from. One particular piece (I blush painfully to admit it was disco) I still know all the words to (“Romeo and Juliet” by Alec R. Constadinos). Scary, huh? But the song that transported me to the creative space? Crosby, Stills, and Nash, “Cathedral”. If I were to pull that tune up on Spotify right now… well, that would be the end of this blog. I’d need to grab my sketch book and let my pencil drift across the page.

Senior year. Art was still a big part of my life; I would go on to start college as an art major. But writing was moving into a place of importance. Writing happened in the cafeteria/auditorium during free periods with friends. When I close my eyes now and remember, we’re gathered around a wood-patterned folding table, and Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” is on the radio. We’re laughing and planning story, swapping pages.

Those very pages I recently put in the mail to my lifelong best friend. We attended junior college together, where we took classes in creative writing and mystery fiction and turned it up loud for Adam Ant, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel, Joe Jackson, Tears for Fears -

OMG that list can go on and on. The stories kept coming (Thomas Dolby and Nik Kershaw -- so much Nik Kershaw -- and Ice House) and the pattern was set. Music and stories. Rhythms and words.

Now, with all those years behind me, I’m proud to say I don’t write any stories with disco playing in the background. But I pull from all the years, past and present. I’ll cue up some Pink Floyd, some New Order, more Queen (always Queen), U2, Pearl Jam… fill in the blanks all the way up to One Republic, Florence and the Machine, and Pink.

In my house, like the house I grew up in, there is always music.  And there is always a song to take me away, into myself, into the creative space where all things are possible.

Seek your space. And create.


(note: I listened to "Cathedral" four times while adding links for this post.)


Melissa Landers said...

Jen, I didn't know you were an art major. How cool! I'd love to see some of your sketches!

Also, I love Bohemian Rhapsody. Every time it comes on the radio, my kids *know* to be quiet so Mommy can sing along.

Lorie Langdon said...

Tears for Fears totally transports me too! I loved Nik Kershaw and Ice House...the memories!
I didn't discover Queen until I started dating my husband in college. Of course, I'd heard some of their songs, but I didn't really appreciate them until he played it for me. :)
Excellent post!

petra said...

Ah I remember those days well and so fondly! Genesis played a huge part during that time as well. I still will create a soundtrack for a particular script so that it will transport me. Music speaks to me on a molecular level. It's like I'm not even listening with my ears. Great post!

Kimberly said...

Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody is the bond between my teenage heroine and her dad in my first YA. :-) And with the hero too, of course. LOL.
No matter where I am, I will always stop and smile and listen to the older music of my youth. I remember who I was dating when the song came out. I remember who was in my circle of friends. I remember the songs that made me cry, the songs that made me smile and wish and dream.
I can tell that music played a big part in your creating process--both in writing as well as your art.
It's nice to have a friend that doesn't age. That can always make you feel what you felt throughout every step of your life.

Lea Nolan said...

What a great post, Jen. You just brought me back to junior high art class where we designed our own covers for The Police's Synchronicity album. The album played over and over again as we worked and that music is etched into my brain. I can't hear any of those songs without being transported back to that room.


Jennifer McAndrews said...

@Melissa -- I did not remain in the art dept, sadly. And my sketches are really not share-worthy. But I'll sing Bohemian Rhapsody with you any time ; )

@Lorie -- Thank you! I was afraid NO ONE would have heard of Ice House! Glad you've discovered Queen, though. A song for all moods : )

@Pet - oh, Genesis for sure! and even a little country music thrown in for balance. But it's Rush that puts me back there every time. Wild.

@Kim - thanks for making me feel old! lol! I wasn't old enough to date when Bohemian Rhapsody came out. But I can completely relate to having music be the bond between teen heroines and their folks -- works like that in my house all the time. And wow, music as a best friend -- wonderful!!

@Lea -- I can totally see the Synchronicity cover in my memory. Mercy! But junior high... ugh. I'm such an old broad! I'm going to go crawl back onto the porch at my old age home know and crank up some Styx.

CareyCorp said...

Great post Jen! Sorry I'm late to the party. I'm catching up from vacation...and now I'm headed to work with Bohemian Rhaspody in my head! ;)