Feel the Music

I’m not really a music guy, though I do listen to it of course. Psytrance while I’m working, stuff like Feist if I am trying to be all relaxed and sensitive, and so on. Not a connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. Lately, we’ve been listening to Damien Rice around the house, and that’s been good. Lately, we also watch the movie Once and thought to ourselves that the seemed a bit like Damien Rice.

And then it turns out that the movie is actually “loosely based” on Damien Rice’s life. And so. The movie itself is really quite lovely – a charming blend of melancholy and a bit of “Mighty Ducks” feel-goodism and so on. But most of all it’s about musicians’ relationships to music, and that music’s relationship to their lives. It does a good job of helping you to see a little of why someone might be passionate about music, but doesn’t go overboard with it.

None of this is particularly surprising. We all know at some level that musicians are frequently making music because they feel deep feelings about it. Anyone who’s ever even written some angsty teenage poetry can understand the connection between emotions and art. And music has always been particularly strong on this front, arguably the most intuitively emotional artform, I’d think.

Anyway, the revelation for me in the relationship between seeing Once and listening to Damien Rice’s music is exactly that obvious connection. It’s easy, for me at least, to utterly lose track of the idea that music is emotional and reflects a real person’s life. Just as we can happily ride the subway and not particularly perceive the “humanity” of the people around us, I find it easy to listen to music without “hearing it emotionally” or whatever. It’s nice music, I like it, I hum along, but I don’t think about the human who made it and, most importantly, why they made it.

Once gives us a chance to hear the music and its emotions for a while because we have a picture of a real person writing songs that they mean. It’s not an insignificant experience.

15 January 2011
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