03. MUSIC INSPIRATION
Looking back, I see that I almost understood so much when I was younger. It wasn’t for lack of trying. Heartache and sadness I experienced vicariously through movies, music, books, and friends kept me moping for years. I thought it made me deep. It wasn’t worthless, because it helped me expand my empathy. But it also kept me trapped in that limbo for years, hoping something would happen that tied my life experience to these songs I was feeling so deeply.
When everyone around me was living through the tumultuous times of early serious relationships, I was trying hard to have them, but never getting there. I didn’t have much to be sad about except feeling lonely; not that that’s nothing.
Now, I’m in a better place to understand it. I finally got around to having some grown up love and heartache in the past fifteen or so years, and it’s so much more painful to hear those same songs that expertly captured real pain now.
The line is everywhere, and far more dangerous. One song capturing the whole of my experience…that’s just not reality. We connect in moments and lines. I know there are classic divorce records, and I’ve listened to some of them, but they’re not my life. My divorce wasn’t (and isn’t) like Blood on the Tracks or Shoot Out the Lights or Domestica.
In the end, what’s the difference how it all went wrong?
Right now, the last Jimmy Eat World record has some truths and insights about splitting up that I find unexpected, especially after learning that the songwriter didn’t actually get divorced. The spell was broken when I read an article where a fan said something like, “You can make a movie about killing someone without really doing it, so why not?” I was mad, but how could I feel betrayed when I found out someone else hadn’t gone through a divorce and was still happily married? Furthermore, wasn’t I doing something similar when I adhered so closely to songs about possibly real pain when I hadn’t experienced it?
I used to think that the songs were the whole self-contained story, that I’d have my own someday. Now I see that the jagged lines and images are far more powerful than finding My Song because they’re everywhere. I no longer have to reach. I can hear lines like these from “Window” and I know their sting in real life.
I found myself in a darker place
Afraid of change but more afraid to stay the same
Once I was trying to force myself to feel something that now comes flooding in whether I like it or not. Lines come out of nowhere to fuck me up--ones I hadn’t thought much about before, ones that I thought I was feeling deeply years ago now make my lip quiver and bring on the tears. In reflecting on this, I realized that these reactions came from trying hard at life instead of trying to connect to someone else’s blues.
These days, I’ve taken to “I’m here. I’m here. Not heroic, but I try,” sung by Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison, a man who isn’t here anymore, a man who’s music scored a handful of sentimental moments in my life and who ended his life last year just after the beginning of the end of my marriage. Let the lines break you. Let them mend you.