20-Something, Music

Looking to Songs for Answers

Tonight I saw Arcade Fire, a band I affixed great emotional significance to a long time ago. I recall lonely nights of drinking to, jerking off to, or crying to their first album Funeral. Of thinking that the swell in each song would carry me away to the place I was meant to be at. At 21 years of age and meandering into adulthood, their gospel held truths that I was meant to study and adhere to. When Neon Bible came out, it was the same thing. An organ meant proclamation. Of what? I’m not sure. Either way they were the gateway to the beginning of it all. Or so I thought.

So tonight, in a large field in the middle of Austin, I closed my eyes and tried to stir the nostalgia for a time I looked to songs for answers, but it just wasn’t coming. I closed my eyes more tightly and concentrated as hard as I could. I kicked the dirt over the memories of lying on my bedroom floor hitting repeat on “Rebellion (Lie)” thinking that eventually the song might make me burst into a million tiny pieces. I dug deep for the memory of when I saw Arcade Fire alone in Los Angeles, a pilgrimage to find direction when I was considering leaving the life I knew and head anywhere else. But tonight, I had no great epiphany, no dropping to the knees. Instead I listened, I enjoyed and nothing changed.

And I realized, my life currently has no soundtrack.

Music is an important part of the human experience. Without it, I believe we’re nothing. It acts as the backdrop to the story of our lives, often changing from chapter to chapter or staying with us for a lifetime. For me, I have my bands that have stayed constant: Talking Heads never wavering at the number one spot, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Frank Zappa, and Elvis Costello. All the tried true standards. Then there are the ones that came and went, the flings that represented my age and my setting: Dave Matthews Band (high school), Ben Folds Five (high school), Arcade Fire (LA), Modest Mouse (LA), Bloc Party (LA), Wolf Parade (LA) etc. Hey, don’t judge.

Currently, all I have are my staples and nothing else. Nothing else that has quite inspired me.

I live in the city known as “the live music capital of the world” and I’m completely clueless as to what is going on in music. Just like when I lived in LA, when you live in a city that is built around a certain industry you tend to shy away from it, overwhelmed with it’s vice-like grip on the city. When everyone scrambles to eat up the daily concerts and various festival line-ups, I retreat, overwhelmed by it all. Where do I even begin? What if I don’t like the band? What if it’s crowded? What if it’s too loud? What am I even looking for anymore?

I’m losing my edge, but I’m not really sure I ever had it. Maybe I’m not necessarily even concerned with that. I kind of miss the days where I needed music as an emotional crutch. I’m no longer in a place where I seek it and I realize how much I am missing out on. Being in a substantially happier state than I was in my early 20’s has left me listening to light and fluffy stuff, songs I can dance to and make me smile. There is nothing wrong with that, but watching Arcade Fire tonight made me realize that I no longer listen to anything that stirs me.

Am I afraid to go to that dark place again?

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  • Reply IT (aka Ivan Toblog) September 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    This song kinda stirs me up. I also wish I could sing as well as he does.

  • Reply Tara September 19, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I had never listened to Arcade Fire before, but I just listened to some samples of their songs and I really like them…It's always nice to find a band whose music speaks to your soul. That's what Copeland does for me, although they have disbanded, unfortunately.

  • Reply Natali Puga September 19, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    First of all..
    I am envious that you've seen AF twice. I know what you mean when you say that music is an important part of the human experience. I am sorry that you currently have no soundtrack, that is a horrible feeling. Beautiful writing ma'am.


  • Reply Jamie September 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this. I can't really give my opinions on the subject before a good think, though, I'm afraid x

  • Reply StrangeBird September 20, 2011 at 9:46 am

    I get where you are coming from – I don't seem to get as attached to songs as I used to. I think maybe it's a teenage/youth thing – we look to music at that age because the world doesn't understand us, nothing makes sense, but the music makes us feel good. Maybe it just means we don't feel so disconnected anymore? Maybe it's a good thing?

  • Reply Kellyn D September 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I feel the EXACT same way about Arcade Fire. I spent a good portion of my junior and senior years of high school crying to Arcade Fire.

    I woke up yesterday when the electricity went out down my street. The first thing that popped into my head was "Light a candle for the kids. Jesus Christ, don't keep it hid."

    I'm borderline obsessed with them.

    Have you ever listening to Radical Face? Ben Cooper is awesome.

  • Reply Kimberly Kaye September 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    You don't NOT have a sountrack…I think you're just in between songs. And there are about 10 million people who make it impossible for anyone to judge you about Dave Matthews Band or Weeping to Arcade Fire.

    If it's any helo, I currently recommend THE LISPS, CYMBALS EAT GUITARS, MY NAME IS JOHN MICHAEL and the collected works of REBIRTH BRASS BAND, especially the track Cassanova. I don't know if they'll work in Austin, but they synch up with the current life movie in NYC nicely.

  • Reply Cathy Benavides September 21, 2011 at 1:53 am

    My soundtrack changes all the time. A couple of months ago it was Adele and other breakup songs (even Bad Goodbye by Clint Black and Wynonna Judd. Yeah, I went to country.) Currently, it's some of my favorite jazzy, seedy musicals that are tinged with hope and longing. Cabaret, Chicago and Ragtime are high on the list.

  • Reply Ben October 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Wow. That’s a really good way of putting it. When I got older and started crushing on people less hard than I did in my teens and early 20s, it was no surprise. But when I stopped feeling so strongly about music, it was a huge surprise. I never saw that coming. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be an aging musician who knows that his audience will grow out of him. I also actually go to shows more than I did when I was younger, and I feel like I appreciate the live experience more than I used to (I used to kind of just enjoy seeing a famous person), but I feel like I’m not getting into it as much as the younger-looking people are. Sometimes I’ll wish I was as totally caught up in it as they were.

  • Reply Philip goetz November 2, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I saw them at ACL in 2004 or so and it just looked like a bunch of people dragging crap around on stage. In 2005 some idiot advertising classmate brought FUNERAL to my radio show at 5am at KVRX and we already had it in the new bin. Idiot. Totally hooked on the track INTERVENTION on NEON BIBLE. Yeah.

    • Reply hipstercrite November 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

      One of my fave songs.

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