Sunday, June 5, 2016

Musical Musings, Moonrise Melancholy

I’ve said before that I don’t like music, and I stand by that statement. I just don’t enjoy the whole fetishishtic culture around it-- how what you listen to is used to instantly define and categorize you, and to judge your degree of hipness, coolness and being “in the know”. I find it incredibly exasperating, and I find most music tiresome anymore. (Yes, I am an old lady. No apologies.) When I have ventured out musically, it’s always been a disappointing experience. For example, for a brief time, I was very interested in the work of Krishna Dass, until I realized how demanding his music actually is. It’s not something that you can just throw on and have running in the background—it requires your full attention and concentration. I don’t have time for that, and in general, I just don’t have the time or patience to be a music hobbyist. Even rudimentary enjoyment of it demands far more time and mental energy than I have. And everything new just seems soupy and disappointing to me. I have one single Pandora station that I named “Music to Write To”, which is all tinkely New Age spa music that’s so airy and insubstantial it requires no engagement whatsoever. It simply provides a nice, white-noise background when I’m trying to create and I need to shut the world out.

But I recently went down a You Tube Hole rabbit-hole. Hole’s album “Live Through This” was an absolutely pivotal, even life-changing experience for me when I first heard it in the mid-nineties, when I was a messed-up, confused, twenty-something. I was reminiscing, listening to some of Courtney Love’s choice cuts, when I remembered that another pivotal album, Tori Amos’s “Under the Pink”, had the same revolutionary effect on me. When men write about destruction, they write about destroying others. When women write about destruction, they write about destroying themselves: From “Hole”:

Go on, take everything. Take everything. I want you to.

And from “Under the Pink”

Every day/I crucify myself/Nothing I do is good enough for you/I crucify myself

There were many angry girl-bands in the mid-nineties, and most of them expressed their rage through similar self-destructive sentiments. I remember how much I related to that music then; how much their fury and helplessness resonated with me, and how I craved their yearning, desperate, enraged sound. I miss feeling that connected to music. I don’t know if I’m just dead inside now, or if music has gotten crappy, but I don’t respond to it in the same way any more, and that makes me sad. I long for some tunage I can sink my emotional teeth into again, but I haven’t found any since.

The other art form I am tragically out of the loop on is film. I’m usually three to five years behind the zeitgeist, because I cannot motivate myself to shell out cash and sit in a theater for what is likely to be an empty experience. But I’ve been wanting to see “Moonrise Kingdom” for a while now, and I managed to convince Mr. Typist to rustle it up on Netflix last night. I’m not a Wes Anderson fanatic, and I don’t think that everything he does works, but “Moonrise Kingdom” is now firmly in my top five list of favorite films. It was devastatingly beautiful. I was near-tears on numerous occasions just from the sheer love emanating from the screen. I’m not talking about the love between the two main characters, twelve-year olds Sam and Suzy, who run away together. I’m talking about the deep compassion that the filmmakers and writers have for all of their characters, and for the circumstances they find themselves in. It’s  difficult to capture the tenuous magic of pre-adolescent innocence without veering into preciousness, but “Moonrise Kingdom” finds the essence of its ethereal, fleeting joy. And it takes the younger characters seriously. There is no point at which Sam and Suzy’s relationship is looked down upon or regarded as frivolous just because of their age. Their emotions are treated with as much respect and seriousness as the adults. The film also understands the disconcerting truth that the adults are just as sad and lost as the kids—the only difference is, the adults bear the expectation of responsibility. It’s an absolutely lovely film on many levels, and I highly recommend it.

It’s over 90 degrees in Seattle today and as a result I’m an extremely grumpy typist. I’m going to have a lie-down. Enjoy some videos.

--Kristen McHenry



Jeannine Hall Gailey said...

Loved Moonrise Kingdom as well.
Angry but sort of disenfranchised cool-girl rock that doesn't take too much work to listen to, but rewards re-listening: Aimee Mann. Plus she's the only rock person I know that's toured with a poet, so that's pretty enlightened.
I confess I've recently also experienced some nostalgia towards my nineties music, including the two albums you mentioned. Did we have more emotion then, or did the music?

Kristen McHenry said...

Nice to see you here, Jeannine! Thanks for commenting. I'll check out Aimee Mann. I've heard the name but I don't think I've heard her music. "Did we have more emotion then, or did the music?" A haunting question.

spiritsoflena said...

I find that after many years of watching movies, it takes a lot more to have an impact. I find independent films to be more interesting and provocative currently. I wonder why there haven't been more female musicians like the ones you describe at the forefront recently.