I was surfing WordPress this week and stumbled upon an amazing blog that I have no shame plugging here. It’s called The Last Song I Heard, and it seems to be one man’s musical life journey, written down into neat little journal-esque blog posts for his son to read later. Great idea, great blog.
To pull from that idea, I decided to jot down a few random songs that I love, that I think are worthy of a blog post. I realized through his blog that journaling via music is a great way to capture moods, feelings, memories and a portion of one’s life that may never come back.
I’ve decided to start with the first song from M83’s “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming” album (which is amazing, in my opinion) titled simply “Intro”. The song features Zola Jesus, who has sort of an ethereal voice that fits very well with the wispy/dramatic/chord driven music that M83 are known for.
“Intro” starts quietly and slowly builds, feeling VERY nostalgic with the band’s typical heavy synths, rolling eventually into a full-scale assault on your emotions. It’s hard to listen to the song and not feel some emotion, but the weird thing is that the emotions felt are shapeshifters. Sometimes when I hear it, I’m reflective and can’t shake my first heart break, other times I feel uplifted and inspired, like I could conquer the world using only my thumb. But mostly I feel better about things. It’s the kind of song that seems to say, ‘no matter where you are in your life, or what you’re doing, no matter what goals you’ve met or haven’t met, it’s okay…you’re okay, and you’re right where you’re supposed to be.”
Like many of M83’s songs, it starts with a low sound that can be described as little more that noise, the noise builds to synth chords, then a child whispering. It’s impossible to understand all the lyrics – and sometimes I think maybe that’s what M83 is going for. It doesn’t bother me, because it ends up being akin to the musical version of a Rorschach painting – you hear bits and pieces, and your brain fills in the rest with what you want (or subconsciously need) to hear.
I have no idea what M83’s intent with the lyrics are. I can’t even decipher most of them. But I think that, for me at least, the uplifting part of the song is the one repeating lyric that I can certainly understand: carry on the song tells me. We all are one I hear at another point. The human race as a whole must carry on, work together. The beat and chords push me onward in a weird way, most notably when Zola Jesus starts singing and there’s a bass drum backbeat that feels not unlike my heartbeat.
Before you know it, the song bursts into a full orchestral and choral production, with no real lyrics, and forces my brain into recollection overdrive. I start thinking about everything in my life I’ve ever done wrong, and how I wish I could go back. Mixed with those memories are flashes of all the really good, warm feelings I’ve ever had, the times I helped someone, the times I laughed so hard my face hurt, the times I’ve been truly moved by something or someone. Pain and guilt transcends to warmth, love, joy and finally when I get to the point that I think my heart might explode from all the emotion, it stops. Almost as quickly as it started, my brain just stops. Because the music has stopped… we’re back to a chorded drone sound now, and the synapses in my brain are still smoking from the fire, pieces of old memories still glowing from the inferno.
This is typically the part where I take a deep breath and look around.