Saturday, 26 January 2008

Music matters

Ah, the joys of the blogosphere where, despite the troubles of the big round, one can always take a mood-moment to muse and meander in a little off-the-wallness, sometimes in flighty epiphany or keyboard frippery, sometimes on the wave of a poetic note or, in this case, musical whimsy.

For all those who stood up and were counted
For all those for whom money was no motive
For all those for whom music was a message
I want to thank you for making me

A little more sure
A little more wise
And courageous

So goes the wonderful opening lyrics to Music Matters, by Faithless.

I'm kind of lost in the ethereal beauty of this piece, featuring Cass Fox's soaring, sensuous vocals, alongside Maxi Jazz's dub-rap poetry which runs through the second pumped-up section like a grooving incantation.

It sits smilingly in my head as one of the tracks that accompany a body balance class I partake in, a little oasis of good feeling and peaceful meditation, caringly overseen by our talented instructor. Why are the 'simple' things in life always the most rewarding?

Cultivating physical and emotional harmony is something of an artful endeavour. And music matters as spiritual stimuli to those vibrant feelings and the pursuit of balanced contentment. It can also charge our cerebral impulses and well-being, potentially encouraging, in turn, our capacity for human empathy.

We are what we hear.
We are what we say.
We are what we read.
We are what we feel.

So, if we feel and hold hate and anger within, we become hate and anger personified, with all the consequential negatives that suggests.

In a recent docu-film of Faithless performing in Moscow alongside a Russian orchestra, Maxi sagely observes that, by the same logic, if we "feel amazing", we must "be amazing". I rather like that little zen-type coda.

Those quintessential Faithless lyrics and haunting beats track a darker furrow of human existence in Bombs:

We think we're heroes, we think we're kings
We plan all kinds of fabulous things
Oh look how great we have become

One bomb, the whole block gone
Can't find me children and dust covers the sun
Everywhere is noise, panic and confusion
But to some another fun day in Babylon
I'm gonna bury my wife and dig up my gun
My life is done so now
I got to kill someone

So much heaven, so much hell

So much love, so much pain
So much more than I thought this world could ever contain
So much war, so much soul
Moments lost, moments go
So much more than I thought this world could ever hold

The words and video images here register a chilling message of how tenderly human life clings-on amid the spectacle of war and violence; how terrifyingly invasive power and brute force can be when it bursts into our lives.

More often, it's 'their' lives at stake, the lives of 'others' in 'foreign' places, whose suffering through war and occupation 'our' politicians prefer us not to think too hard about. And the calculated indifference of 'our' political, military and corporate elite reminds us of the stark uselessness of hate, anger and greed, the usual motivations for mercenary taking of life through war.

The primary reference in Bombs is to the wanton Western crime being perpetrated in Iraq. But it serves as a wider allusion to violent behaviour in general and how we need - contra the warmongers and their delusional accomplices - to act in a spirit of true human consideration.

Bombs is a challenging love song, no-less, with its sumptuous, soulful voices urging a politics of care and compassion. It's notable that MTV refused to air the video to this track, with its juxtaposed scenes of happy family life and elite-sponsored war.

This is a music that faithfully engages such matters. A music for all those for whom money, profit and violence is "no motive". A music for mind, body and soul. A music for those trying to keep a little faith in our common ability to care.

Hey, so much for the 'escapist' muse....

Anyway, check out these great live renditions of Bombs and Music Matters.

Peace and love.



John Hilley said...

Miss 'Megy pops', my lovable teenage niece, tells me she really liked this piece and the Faithless videos, noting that Harry Collier's voice in Bombs was "very trancy". What a cool description of those great vocals! xj

marlene said...

Well that a surprise finding you here. I am writing an essay on creative prblem soling and was looking for some internet insperation and found you. I am not sure how this will help the essay but the references to music and tia chi might help. If you want to help me finish it feel welcome. sustiaining motivation is hard. meighbour round the corner Cathy's friend and learn to swim fan.

John Hilley said...

Hi Marlene,

Nice to hear from you, and hope you found a little inspiration here. I could help you with the essay, but that would negate your own creative problem-solving task –which is my creative problem-solving way of avoiding having to help with your creative problem-solving essay.

Hope you're enjoying the Swim albums.