This could be my great awakening … by badhairdaypunk

It’s a little disconcerting to want to describe the days surrounding a funeral as some of the ‘best nights’ in a very long time. But that’s exactly what this week has been. It’s been a time of catching up with old crowds – some I haven’t seen in years, some I didn’t care to – and reminiscing about the old days.

One moment of the past few days has stuck in my mind and so I figured it’s the perfect time to finally make that first post I was invited to months ago (yes, I’m a slack bastard).

The other night while a few of us were chilling on a couch, over a few beers and stories, others were in another room, a bedroom converted into a studio, creating a track in memory of the one who had passed.

And it got me thinking, and it got us talking, about the insane amount of power that something as simple as music can have.

Few people will probably ever hear this track. It was created for a special moment in time, to pay tribute to an incredible person, and played for a special occasion, but to the people that heard it, and understood, it held more meaning than can be described. And that’s the power of music. To every millions of people that take no notice of a song playing on the radio, or openly scorn it, there will be one person, like the close friends who understood what this made-in-a-night-over-a-few-beers track represented, who will be affected in such a way that can, if you’re really fucking lucky, literally change the course of life.

I remember reading an article a while ago, written by a restaurant reviewer, who always felt a little odd admitting his area of journalism and I feel his pain. There’s always an underlying feeling, whether it’s intended or not, that the ‘entertainment’ areas of journalism don’t really count in the big scheme of things. It’s the political reporting, or the highly investigative pieces that pull impressed looks. Sure, interviewing bands and scoring free albums would be cool but music is just a bit of fun isn’t it?

Sure, to some it is. But in a way, that’s half the magic of music.

One of the most amazing things about music, and art in general, is its open-ness to personal interpretation. It’s something unique about music that, when you think about it, is pretty damn impressive.

Take some of the most famous words ever spoken:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Words that have, undoubtedly, affected a hell of a lot of people. And still do. But there’s one meaning, and one only, that can be found in the words.

Music on the other hand, is entirely different. To me Blink 182’s highly criticised ‘Adams Song’ is a message of triumph through desperation. An idea that if you stick with it long enough, you’ll get through.

To the kid who was famously found hanging from his garage roof with the song locked on repeat, it may have meant something else entirely.

There are a handful of songs I don’t think I’ll ever listen to again without shedding a tear. There are others that got me through some pretty crazy times. If Journey starts playing I’ll always be taken back to a crazy drunken night in Vegas. Everytime I hear Violent Femmes, I’m 15, with my best mate, chasing her pet pig down the beach.

There’s a lot of stories I’ll never tell, but there’s rarely a moment in my 27 years without a soundtrack attached.

There’s a lot of it I don’t like. There are bands I believe do no good in the world and countless I cringe at every time I hear the opening chords to one of their generic, passionless songs. But I’m sure there are people who have a story that means the world to them attached to that very song.

For every song that you trash, for every scene that you belittle and for every band that you talk shit about on some forum, there will be some kid, somewhere, who’s been through hell and back with the very song you’re hating on.

(Hopefully that kid isn’t someone who reads my reviews …)

Personal meanings behind, I’d be pretty keen to argue with anyone who wants to tell me any other medium has the same power on such a broad scale as music. I’ll buy you a beer if you come out on top in the end.

When you think about it, there are few events, people or places that haven’t in some way been immortalized by music.

Who can think about the Berlin Wall without the image of 450,000 people crowded around to watch Pink Floyd perform? The legendary Joe Strummer will forever be immortalized through the perfect placement of the final track on his final album. It’s difficult to hear Geldoff belting to words to ‘I don’t Like Mondays’ without getting images of a 16 year old kid shooting away at the school next door.

With power, of course, comes fear … and we’ve all heard the stories of artists and entire genres being held responsible for all that is evil in the world. Sure, it’s absurd and incredibly frustrating, but what else holds such power, that people can blame it for the tragedies of entire subcultures.

Music can bring a stadium of people together, regardless of race or culture or language barriers, every night, throughout the world. When the right band is playing, it doesn’t matter which country you’re in, how old you are or what car your mum drives. The night is yours. The passion is real and if you’re lucky enough to be at the right show, this night will be etched in your memory for the rest of your life. And then you look around you and realize every single person in the venue is feeling exactly like you are right now.

If that’s not something pretty damn special, then I don’t know what is.

In response to the question in the previous post of whether punk is dead – in many ways it is. In many ways it died the day it was born. But at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. My interpretation of punk is very much alive – as it is to countless people and bands around the world. I’ll take the music, embrace it and live it. I’ll take in the stories it’s got to tell, and if the story doesn’t quite fit – I’ll create my own. That’s the power of music right there. Whether it’s hip-hop, punk, drum and bass or pop – as cliché as it sounds – music does have the ability to change the world.

If I get to be there, to report even a small part of it – I’ll be pretty fucking lucky I reckon.



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