Music or Lyrics. The songwriter’s ultimate dilemma. Which one is more important? The sound of your melody or the impact of your lyrics? Opera without lyrics simply becomes an orchestra recital. Poetry without instrumental sound remains the spoken word. I myself share the same wonderment as ABBA’s plain questioning in their song, “Thank You For The Music”.” ‘Who found out that nothing can capture a heart like a melody can?’ Who was it that figured it out? Or maybe where did it originate from? “The Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel has a beautiful line stating ‘The Book of Love has music in it. In fact that’s where music comes from.’ As an aspiring writer and as a lifetime lover of music, I could eternally bounce between conclusions on this debate. I can’t pretend to know the answers. Which is why I leave this conundrum to be analysed by sound engineers, poets, musicians, philosophers and psychologists, while I simply choose to accept that both hold a potential key to unlocking the full spectrum of human emotion across cultures, continents and centuries. And more personally, it has touched my soul and shaped my life in a way I can never change or deny. Which is why I write this blog, with the intention to once more marry music and the written word into a somewhat different form.
Music is a transcendent and universal language, a tool used to share and express emotions and words throughout the ages. It tells a story. And as a Journalism and English student, I eat, sleep and breathe stories. Some of hard, cold facts. Some of epic and fantastic adventure. But lately, I’ve felt like I’ve been drowning in expectations. What to write, when to write, how to write, how long, how short…all coming down to ‘Blank stares at blank pages’. Just as Sara Bareilles portrays in her hit, “Love Song”, I am being pushed and prodded to write because I am instructed to do so. And somehow I’ve forgotten the passion I used to hold for it along the way. The Beatles “Paperback Writer” has pretty much become the backing track to the last few years of my education.
This has not been the first time these feelings of doubt have crept up on me. Having endured a Whiplash-esque love/hate relationship with producing music in my own life, my entrance to university summoned in an era of dedication to my craft of writing. Like Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”, ‘Silence like a cancer grows’ until the songs I no longer played or sang echoed in my empty ears. And thus, the music trickled out of my life. But as Johnny Cash reminded me in “Tear Stained Letter”, I ‘still could reconsider, and come back to bein’ mine’. The music had stopped in the middle of the song. But starting now, I choose to pick up that guitar, sit down at that piano, tune that clarinet, open my mouth and press play on music once again.
And so, to rekindle my love for writing, matched with my heartsick longing to let music back into my life…this is why I write. Welcome to Food of Love. And as the Bard said, “Play on.”