Monday, February 20, 2012

Power Chord

Strip the veneers away and music only gives you one of two things: a place to cradle your pain or a place to celebrate your joy. That's it. Pleasure or pain. Music is humanity's most fickle of inventions, its quiet, dark room or its temple to ecstasy, and they so often are the same place. Remember getting your heart broken and the songs you listened to and it will tell you a little about dealing with pain. Remember the best memories and the songs which accompanied them and you will know a little more about what it takes to be happy.

It's a strange thing, our mind. It can be our worst enemy and it can give us our greatest triumphs. Sometimes it does what it does with clarity, a clockwork device, a simple and to-the-point instrument. Other times it comes at us obliquely, a devious and subtle little imp. Dreams are said to be subtle attempts to persuade us from the sub-conscience, to enact our will when waking by guiding our vision while asleep, tiny and vague soldier making war on our consciousness. Music is the same: it is a dream we enter willingly, with forethought, with purpose, and in it we come to happiness or overcome pain, vibrating, smashing, uncontrolled.

I have found that I will be singing or humming a song I have heard only once, maybe just repeating a phrase or lyric because I only know that little bit. Later, I will buy it or borrow it and find out that it says exactly what I need it to at that moment in my life, Occam's razor cutting through the fecal landscape of the little lies I tell myself.

The day I heard Minor Threat - Out of Step I was in a buddy's car heading to the skate park. A girl I really liked had just shit on my heart and I couldn't focus on anything and I was going to go skate hard and forget. The song came on part way through and was followed by some GBH tune or something, so I really only heard a tiny part of it. I skated that day until my elbows looked like ground chuck and I was drenched in sweat. I got a ride home and collapsed on my bed, sleeping until the next morning, something like thirteen hours.

When I did finally get up I found myself singing "Out of step, with the wo-orld" over and over while I pillaged the refrigerator. While I chewed the fuel I found, it cycled through my brain, oscillating and reverberating. I finally called Dave and asked him for a recording of it so he taped it for me. I listened to it about twenty-five times in a row. It quite literally changed my life.

I bought the record the very next time I was in the record shop around the corner and never looked back. Hardcore became part of me, incorporated its intensity, its power, into my personality and, in turn, I became part of it during its brief and furious course. It was the way I banged out the moments of pain as well as being the wrench of my happiness. It was a violent, red flood in the corners, a coursing current of electric emotion on the basement steps, stomping, biting, flailing, and shoving my furious love and pain and rage and fear and sorrow, vision in the fog, a living part of the burning chaos in my head.

Jinx stands in front of the speakers in his basement, heavy boots sticking to the floor, shirtless, sweating, eyes burning, and the first note rings and hammers him in the neck, pulling up his foot almost against his will. He stamps down on the hard concrete, body coiled, arms pumping, a hurricane in Doc Martens. The speakers thump and crack and protest, waves of clear joy exploding from their paper cones, pushing him in the face one way, pulling him by the scrotum to another, all the fear and violence flying off his limbs in the form of sweat. He is alone, in the space of his mind, hurtling, a comet, picking up debris on the way, losing the material that weighs him down. Alive.
The first lyrics scream out at him I'm gonna knock it down Any way I can I'm gonna scream I'm gonna yell I don't want to have to use my hands reeling, flailing, a lone rioter, teeth gritted, the chorus pulls somehow even more out, energy, hatred, love, the current of the mind IT'S LIKE SCREAMING AT A WALL SOMEDAY IT'S GONNA FALL. And the pain blissfully is rendered.

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