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Monday
Jun202016

Music is the jam of life [The Listserve]

Last week, I was lucky enough to win The Listserve. It's an email list with 22,200 subscribers (and counting - you can subscribe here). Each day a lottery chooses one user to send a 600-word email to the entire list. Here's what I wrote:

My name is Tom, and I'm a fairly cynical guy. Friends and family always call me a grumpy guy, down in the dumps, whatever. I brush it off and frown on into the sunset. But that's fine. Because even beneath it all, I think there's one thing keeping us all spinning on this ball of water, people and green - music.I'm a student of history (and most things) and I think music keeps us all guessing, angling at what's next. That's probably the reason why we haven't blown ourselves up yet. We love a good story. What happens next? What's at the end of the rainbow? We'll keep running toward it, pushing away obstacles and jumping over challenges until we find out. No one wants to be the guy who writes "The End" when we're having such an interesting time.

But music is the way we decorate time and space - art decorates just space, TV and movies and books decorate just time. It's an invisible force that vitalises us - much like air - and brings us closer together. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Europeans invented waltz music to break down the barriers between dancers. Instead of dancing side by side, they could now dance in front of each other. Music may have precipitated the novel idea that love and marriage is for other reasons than money and prestige. Of course, this is just my theory. Well, Shakespeare might back me up.

Though we're not a ritualistic society. Well, not really. Even so, our rites of passage are marked with music. Christenings, graduations, weddings, you name it - there's songs to commemorate them, across every culture. Music is everywhere. After the shocking tragedy in Orlando the other day, people came together to grieve...and sing. It's a release like no other. We cannot change the past but we can make it that little bit better with music.

People gather together to see art and watch films, but they aren't sharing the experience like music. We sit on seats divided by armrests or clump together and walk on to the next painting. I have yet to talk to someone who made a lifelong friend watching a film or proceeding past a bunch of paintings. I can recall sitting on a bench at high school, earbuds lodged way too far in when a fellow traveller walked past and asked what I was listening to. I told him it was Slipknot (don't judge - I was 13 at the time...I still love heavy metal though) and I offered him an earbud. (Imagine doing that now!)

He plucked it in, nodded away for a while and we got talking. We talked about other bands that were hot at the time (Blink 182! The Offspring!) and we've been friends ever since. Music is the neverending story. I think it keeps us grounded, and hanging on to this sometimes awful, sometimes beautiful place we call home.

So what do you think? I'd love to gain a few music loving friends through this, maybe some pen friends (keyboard friends?) I love writing - I'm a copywriter and journalist by trade - so the more correspondence the better!

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You can read an archive of the Listserve here.