Nothing can save me now. It’s what I believe…

I’d rather listen to classical music or something in the alternative/prog metal or art rock than most anything else. I have quite a bit of folk music edging into my daily listening, but I default pretty quickly to a handful of bands that I really love. They include in no particular order: Portal, Tool, Deftones, Isis, Karnivool, Soen, OSI, The Pineapple Thief, and others similar. I’ll always dig Foo Fighters, Incubus, and things like Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains too, but that isn’t what I listen to most.

People, for whatever reason, tend to fall into three categories when listening to music. Some listen for lyrics. They enjoy or connect with the story. Some listen for the ebb and flow provided by musical instrumentation. They like back ground music and when a good song comes along they may find their toe tapping involuntarily. The third category is becoming less prominent, for they are the conjunction of the both previous categories. Sure, there are plenty of songs that are poetry set to music and both are fully appreciated, but I’m into the stuff that seeks to move you. …And often move you from a safe place to that of another.

I no longer require constant adherence to my comfort zone. I grow the most when forced far from it.

If I told you that I couldn’t adequately explain why, but I’m drawn in the form of empathy to pain for no other reason than to better appreciate pleasure, might that make any sense? I don’t rise in the morning with hopes and aspirations to be drawn into a dark place. However, some of the music I listen to has done that at different times.

If I’m being completely forthcoming, I must also concede the reason for which I’m drawn. Often, in no small part, this magnetism may have zero to do with the song itself – I may have been down before I listened. In essence, a dark song can be a release for me if I’m in a dark mood. …As if there is an expression available to me I didn’t have before. However odd you may find that, I believe people choose music often based first on their mood. The dichotomy with music, is the fact that a song can not only affirm your feelings, but change them. So, a good tune will uplift you when you’re down.

The idea surrounding our music choices as affirmation for our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors is pertinent. In fact, I would tell you if you seek to understand the youth of a culture, whatever that subset may be, it can be as simple as paying close attention to the music in which they’re listening.

When was the last time you listened to the average rap song? While rap is one of my least favorite genres, I hold a tremendous admiration for a new category of music. I especially respect the origin of rap. Rap was born of strife and unrest. Early rap pioneers channeled their fight and suffering of inequality into the music which told a story as they saw it and lived it. While I might not dig it, that doesn’t make it less valuable. Whether those circumstances were real or imagined by various artists since then, can be the subjects of fierce debate. Never forget the origin. These artists put their struggle into musical form. People felt a personal ‘relate’ to their stories. Thus, they liked it, listened to it, and shared it with others. There is story that inhabits those songs in most all cases.

Deftones – Abe Cunningham (drums), Frank Delgado (keyboard/turntable), Chino Moreno (lead vocals), Stephen Carpenter (lead guitar), Sergio Vega (bass)

I was listening to “Hearts / Wires” from Deftones the other day. There isn’t anything striking musically beyond their typical riffs and sounds included. I always like the way their music tends to surround me as if I’m slowly sinking into water. I wouldn’t say they’re the most musically talented band I enjoy. No funny time signatures, no syncopated rhythms, or wild percussion and bass lines are present. But when I listen to the lyrics and the way they compose the music accents, I’m drawn in every time. I’m going to break my rule one time, and give you some information up front. I believe this song is likely either from the perspective of a person grappling with the death of a loved one, or possibly that of an addict that can’t be free of the monkey on his back. Read the lyrics from that perspective:

Nothing can save me now
It’s what I believe
The slit in the sky when you left
Is all I see

Nothing to sing about
I’ve bared all my leaves
No vision of dreams about you
Came true for me

Cut through
This razor wire
And died on your heart
Writhe ’till the end

Stuck with illusion now
I drown in your sea
I hope that you first save yourself
And then come for me

Cut through
This razor wire
And died on your heart
Writhe to the end
Break through
Collect the wires
And writhe in your heart
Writhe ’till the end

Away, away, away
Down deep into your veins
All the way
All the way
Down deep in your heart
All the way
All the way, away

Cut through (away)
This razor wire (away)
Writhe ’till the end
Break through (away)
Collect the wire (away)
Died on your heart
Writhe ’till the end

I have pretty heavy opinions on what these lyrics mean. I like how the bass drum straightens and picks up slightly. Cymbals are pushed harder, some small fills come into play, the guitar chords being played propel the song and add subtle emphasis. But… This blog doesn’t work if I spell it out for you all the time. You have to listen and commit to thinking through it as well. Here’s the song for you to enjoy. Even if this isn’t your cup of tea, try it for me. Please. Listen to it a few times. Try and insert yourself into the place this song describes:

Deftones – Hearts / Wires

What did you take away from it? If nothing else, you’d just about have to be dense as a post to not snag pain and agony, or maybe despair and a sense of loss. Frankly, for the purposes of the point I want to make, you don’t need much else. Here’s my question. If you and I agree the youth of this nation are largely listening to music that reflects their feelings, how bad is it out there?

What overarching ethos or spirit is present that so many of our youth feel helpless? Why are so many conflicted with the idea their lives don’t matter? Who is telling them their lives are absurd and there is nothing they can do with their destiny?

They lack the Gospel my friends. When I listen to “Hearts / Wires” by the Deftones, I feel pain and despair. It reminds me of times in my life when I was low, or felt that way on behalf of someone struggling with those same thoughts and experiences. The difference is distinct in me vs. an entire crop of kids that is listening for similar reasons – I turn to prayer to THANK GOD I didn’t remain in that lowly state. I know why I’m here. I know where I’m going. I know there are things I’m not meant to understand. I can make peace with those thoughts. You can’t dangle a songs like those the Deftones offer without a counter. If you do, you’re the guy continually offering a problem and never being part of the solution. …And nobody likes that guy, for good reason.

So when I write, “Nothing can save me now. It’s what I believe.” as lyrics from a song I really dig, I don’t happen to believe them. I can relate to them, but I don’t believe them. Too many do believe that utterance. What have you accomplished to help those same lost souls towards belief in Him? Or should they “Writhe ’till the end?”

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