“I Can’t Get No…”
ALL PHOTOS (unless credited otherwise): Unsplash
The Wonders of the Musical ‘Release’
THE title of this piece might suggest…
something orgasmic and prurient. In fact; I can back that up a bit…there is a sense of the sexual and satisfactory! I have been thinking about music - and why I listen to certain songs. Looking through my daily rotation and those moments I repeat and hold close; there is something common and revealing coming to the fore. One can throw all sorts of psychological interpretations and insults my way: my choice of songs, I guess, reveal a deeper desire. We are all, in our own way, frustrated and longing for something new. Many find that fulfilment and completion in relationships and friends; others have jobs and rewarding careers; some travel and see the world. To me, the way I wrestle with deep emotions and make sense of anger's tangles is to unburden them through music. At the moment, I have classic 1990s Dance music loaded on Spotify; I have Metallica’s eponymous album in the car; my YouTube lists are filled with songs from my childhood – there are some boisterous, stone-cold R&B gems from the 1990s/2000s elsewhere. The casual observer could say this: they are random selections and have no deeper meaning and substance. The songs are fun, memorable or evocative. In any case; they serve a need and have a sentient relevance.
My song choices are not dictated by the cycle of the moon or the mood I am in – something personal and emotion drives my decisions and the sounds I uncover! Right now; I am caught by career unhappiness – that extends to geographical lumber – and, well…’physical’ ‘urges’ (you can fill in the gaps yourself!). Spring is coming and, with it, the potential for sunshine, warmth and a rise in happiness. That last part not might apply to me as easily and fervently as others: I am hopeful the longer days and clement conditions unlock a part of my mind unable to break free from ruts and easy options. In any case; music is filling holes, metaphorical and near-physical (another gap to fill in!), that are causing pain and confusion. There is something to be said for the sensations music provides. I am not necessarily talking about physical explosions and epic choruses: a satisfying piece of string articulation or unexpected chord change gets into the bones and causes unexpected and fantastic reactions. I paraphrased and borrowed a lyric from The Rolling Stones – we all know the song... – because there is something incredibly physical and sense-screwing about music. I have Metallica shaking my car’s electrical components because of the meaty riffs and animalistic vocals. I cannot put into the word the feelings I get when Enter Sandman’s (the opening track from Metallica) introduction plays.
IN THIS PHOTO: Destiny's Child/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
That sound and excitement provokes a de-stressing and fist-pumping alacrity that nothing else in life does. I listen to En Vogue, Destiny’s Child and All Saints because the combination of strong female vocals and hip-swivelling jams loosen my body and gets the voice ringing. I could easily couch these sensations in very simplistic terms and reduce them to their components parts. You could say a big riff and chunky chorus is a sexual release and sublimation of inner tensions. It is true there is a whirlwind of physical contortions not being slaked by companionship and sex. I do not use music to replace a physical relationship – it is not a synthetic substitute and acceptance I cannot find anyone. Instead, and a more healthy viewpoint, is there is an addictive sound that registers inside me and produces a burst of serotonin. Many of us gravitate towards big Rock songs because of the physicality and ferocity in which they are delivered. At gigs; there is that tribal aspect: likeminded souls losing themselves in the sweat-flying divinity of the moshpit. For me; I long for the sort of excitement and brilliance a great Rock song can deliver. A fiery arpeggio or insatiable chorus can dissipate all the troubles around me; a sleazy vocal or Rolling Stones-like classic can, in me, can transpose the furies of the song itself: create immense fulfilment and a warmth that hits all the bases and fulfils the senses.
IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images
R&B/Pop classics, that I have mentioned, have a brassiness and allure that speaks to me, and many others, in some way. Maybe the lyrics are different and the sounds varies – the effect and purpose remain the same. In any case; I am seeking sounds that take away my troubles and, with it, get me singing and in a finer frame. That word, ‘release’, is a complex and multifarious thing. There is, sure, a sexual and physical component to it. The larger and catchier the sound, the sexier – to me, at least – it is. I have mentioned how music does not need to be inflamed and engorged to provide a chasm of pure emotion and unbridled pleasure. Softer, more melancholic tracks can do the same thing. I have been listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell and Carole King because (their music) soothes and entices the soul. Maybe it is tied to childhood discoveries and the effect this music has on my growing up. Whether it is a Tapestry (Carole King) classic or a brilliant piece of personal pondering from Blue (Joni Mitchell) – it is amazing seeing what that sort of music does to me. The same way a great track from Metallica, The Beatles or Underworld can unshackle my strains with its energy, pulsating beats and peppiness: the aching devotion and velvet nuance of Folk greats dissipates my complex tormentors in its own, paternal way. The Rock and Pop – and R&B – slammers, climb on top of me and take their top off; ride hard and do not stop until the mattress is touching the floor (a bit graphic, but, you know…it has been a ‘while’).
Strangely, Folk and Pop (something more delicate) has that caress and enticing whisper. It holds me by the shoulders and lets me know everything will be okay; providing a cotton-wool-cocoon that swaddles the spikes and offers a comforting blanket. Maybe we have decoded and reprogrammed our brains, from childhood, to associate various artists/sounds with personal needs and objectives. By that; we bond with particular types of music because they provide us with something humans/life cannot. I involved myself with music strongly because there is a sociability and unquestioning loyalty that accompanies me through my days – both bleak and good. As I type this, I am playing Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game. Not only is that one of the sexiest and most seductive tracks ever written; it is delivered in that Elvis-like croon. I could show you my playlists, on Spotify and YouTube, and one could reason and rationalise my selections. Nothing on those lists is frivolous and random: there is a reason why I choose those songs and listen to them devoutly. I am avowedly committed to quelling my stresses and discipline my frustrations through the expansive joys of music. It would be naïve to suggest music alone can act as a psychological guide and medicinal guru. Music has its benefits, I know, but is not a long-term and approved cure for depression, anxiety and loneliness. To me, it is the simplicity and inexplicable reactions that draw me to music. I could not tell you why I close my eyes, drip my head – with headphones – and float away as I listen to, say, Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World.
I have written about that song before and how, I think, it is my first memory of life. Nor can I qualify why something cheesy and 1980s carpet-bombs misery and eases the body – maybe, an early cut from Kylie Minogue’s career; something from Belinda Carlisle, perhaps. Perhaps it is simple, really: those songs are designed to provoke those responses in the listener. I think there is something unique about music. Even if a person has a similar physiological response to a 1980s Pop piece or a modern-day Grunge anthem; it is fascinating how that same piece of music remains with someone (and disappears in someone else). Like snowflakes, fingerprints and vitriolic outbursts from Piers Morgan: no two, I am afraid, are ever the same. No song, at any volume or in any situation, will resonate with two people quite the same. I find myself hankering, more and more, for the kind of pleasure music provides. There are many reasons why we retain certain bits of music and treasure certain albums. There might be that childhood love; a connection to a personal event or life-changing experience – something random, in some cases. So much of what I listen to regularly unlocks knots and provides guidance. I cannot rationally say I listen to Eminem and Soul II Soul because the music sounds nice and is brilliant: those songs get inside me and tease the senses! The reaction and reason need not be crude and proactive: a sweetly-delivered chorus or frivolous performance can make me smile and melt away.
In the Yorkshire Dales of the musical landscape; there are multiple reasons why certain songs do their thing; endless combinations of sounds, subjects and sensations. At the forefront and coalface of deduction and explanation, there is a common recruitment and woe: that ‘sensation’. Call it ‘fizz’, ‘satisfaction’ or ‘happiness’: whatever word you attach to the phenomenon; it is a wonderful thing to behold. My abiding point- rather than expose and embarrass myself – is to highlight how powerful and beneficial music is. I should have put together a playlist – Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel), now playing, would be on there – and see if the songs cause the same responses in everyone…but I won’t. I love exploring music and how, in many ways, it can remedy and reason. It can dive deep into the psyche and pull the lint from the filter; it can provide hugs and comfort when needed: there is a magical and mystical power that exists nowhere else in the world. As I listen to The Beatles’ Love Me Do and surrender to the multiple whiplashes and caramel-flavoured tongues of temptation; I am reminded, as I am every day, how powerful, potent and satisfying…
GREAT music is.