JANUARY 11–Changes

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A few weeks ago I sent the email below to my beautiful friend Monique, with whom I share a wonderful ongoing conversation about everything, often including music, via text, email, and whatsapp voice messages.  We talk about how a song can embed itself into a feeling hugely disproportionate to its merit musically – making you sad, even angry.  How deeply you can hate hearing a benign little song, all because of when you first heard it…either over and over…or once, during some awful time. And yet some precious, rare songs never, ever get old.  They always lift you up, change your day, track the course of your life.  We talk about how catching a song you love on the radio is always better than playing it for yourself, and how sometimes you can go from totally disliking a song to loving it, finding something new in it, and having to play it over and over.

There is much more to this conversation about music, but the email I sent her a few weeks ago was about my ongoing list of lyrics.  Some lyrics stand out not as the most famous lines, or even as singular, cohesive ideas, but as the part of the song that just makes your heart soar, or break.  These lyrics don’t behave like normal words … they fail to incite feeling without the song itself — that is the magic of music.   You will see that when you see them typed out in my note to Monique – they are lovely but static. It is the music, and David Bowie and Freddie, that give you a shiver, choke you up…whatever is happening, it ends up transcending words. Today, in the flood of Bowie tweets and posts, I heard the isolated lyrics for the first time and I felt that awe that I sometimes feel with really original music — a combination of, “how did someone even think to write this?” and “thank God they did.”  Below is Freddie Mercury’s performance of the song in July 1986 at Wembley Stadium – it’s famous and it’s wonderful.  It doesn’t include  Bowie, but it couldn’t have existed without him — he brought magic to music like no one else — so I think it’s OK.

RIP Ziggy Stardust

–Caitlin

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