Before I was a writer, I was a musician. Piano is in my blood, you know, so my parents started us off in lessons almost before we could hold a pencil in our grubby little fists. I remember hating to go, at first, but then it became so normal as to be vital. To this day I can play the piano better than I can play anything else, even though I put more work into my cello. There's something about the young mind that just gets hardwired, I think, so that my fingers will always know the opening to Liebestraume even if the rest of me is about to disintegrate into dust. I am more likely these days to reach for the pencil (or more likely a G2 gel glider pen, I have preferences), but I still think there are places only music can go. Words can create meaning and feeling, can communicate large and beautiful truths. But there are also feelings I've only ever heard before, or played, that I could never write down.
At a dinner party last fall, a friend of mine argued that movie soundtracks can't make us feeling anything without the image of the movie itself. You're insane! I shouted, in what I thought was a well-articulated and fact-based position. He really believed that without the screen, the swell of music wouldn't be impactful, and that when we listen to them separately it's only the memory of watching the movie that effects us. Obviously this is incorrect. No one could listen to the Tron soundtrack, or Les Choristes, or even Pirates of the Caribbean and not feel a rush of fear, elation and adrenaline respectively. I stand by it. Music and feeling are so much the same thing to me that I have a hard time imagining one and not the other, and combining the two, and confusing them. Sometimes I feel a feeling and think I hear a sound, sometimes I hear the first swells of a Bach concerto and want to cry.
I have no words for many feelings, but I have songs for them: the feeling of driving over Ross Island bridge at sunset, the lights of the city starting to glimmer in the fading purple of a summer night on one side and the inky black of the water and the island on the other is a song called Lost on You by LP. My kitchen on a sunny morning when I have nothing planned all day and Cedar is snoring on his bed and coffee has just been made is Matt Ray's Happier Than The Morning Sun. Walking Cedar when it's about to storm but hasn't started yet through Reed Canyon is Julie-O by Mark Summer. You see--I don't have a name for these feelings, but I have a song, a sound, that can capture them perfectly. There are just some things that words can only obfuscate, and sometimes, I'm learning, a good writer knows when to leave them alone and go straight to the source instead.