Music As A Mirror.

Write About Love #4.

“This is how I know Felicity still likes you. You ready? When Felicity showed up last year, head over heels for you, Sarah McLachlan was all she listened to. If Fumbling Towards Ecstasy wasn’t in the CD player, it was only so Solace could get a little airplay. I started calling it ‘Ben music’… not to her face, but behind her back. But then it went away, and I thought Sarah was gone for good. I almost started celebrating. And then you showed up again. You offered Felicity this cross-country trip of a lifetime, which means I got to memorize every lyric from Surfacing… all ten songs. This year started off McLachlan-heavy, until the big break-up, and then all of Felicity’s hair went away, and so did Sarah. Until you guys broke into the pool. Now maybe it was a coincidence, but guess who started to make a comeback? It was gradual, but constant, and now, if you want me to, I can sing any song from Mirrorball, which really annoys the hell out of me. So if you’re ever curious about whether Felicity has the hots for you, just check her boom box.” – Meghan Rotundi, Felicity

I used to have a single go-to musician when I was experiencing heartache and longing, just like Felicity. And I don’t say this to be self-pitying, but now it’s like no music can escape being a companion to my wallowing. If someone were to check my boom box, or rather my ipod (this is the 21st century, after all), they wouldn’t be able to tell what I was feeling, because it all makes me feel the same. Which is to say, sad.

Everything I listen to is tinged with memory. I listen to Fleet Foxes and Beirut, and think of driving through the mountains with you to Winthrop. I listen to TV On The Radio and I see you air-drumming while you drove, me taking the wheel from the passenger seat so that you could use both of your hands. I listen to the Postal Service and think of the first time we kissed. I listen to Fleetwood Mac and remember driving home from Ikea with you, smoking in the dark and incredulous that you had never listened to them before. I listen to Grizzly Bear and it takes me back to the summer we spent apart and how I sent the album to you in the mail, and then we saw them play at the Moore that fall. I listen to Sufjan Stevens and think of you laughing at me as I sang along exaggeratedly to “From The Mouth of Gabriel” the last time we drove to Yakima, and when we saw him play live, the day before we ended, with someone sitting between us.

Even the music that didn’t punctuate our relationship reminds me of you. I listen to the XX and Joanna Newsom, music that you couldn’t appreciate or enjoy no matter how much I wanted you to. I listen to that one Edith Piaf song you liked after I played it for you once, and wish I could have played more of her music for you. I listen to Otis Redding and wish I had played his music for you before it was too late. I listen to Cat Power and it’s like her songs are the mouthpiece of heart.

It’s amazing to me, albeit not entirely surprising, that music can be such a covert marker of mood and a complete reflection of my internal state, like a girl looking at her twin in a mirror. I wonder if the music I’m listening to now, all of it colored by your presence in my life, is going to be a permanent fixture of melancholy, something that I can always commiserate with when I feel lost, something that I will keep returning to because it’s a statement of feeling, subconscious and deeply felt. And if I stop listening to it, if that will mean I’m cured. Or if I’ll ever be able to listen to it again without thinking of you, without being sad.

Maybe I should take a cue from Felicity and start listening to Sarah McLachlan.


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