October 17, 2016

bon iver

Paley Martin and Justin Vernon once invented a vocoder together.

I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to music. I prefer to be seriously involved with a song, album, artist, or genre at all times because, well, I’m my best self when I am. Music defines my days, my moods, my thought patterns, the way I move, and who I am.

As of late, I’ve been struggling to find my match. I know, of course, that connections can’t be forced. And I know that there are so many talented artists, beautiful songs, and masterful albums out there for me to choose from. But still. I am alone. I am without a partner. And I…I am struggling to find my match and therefore, myself.

Sure, all of this is melodramatic. It’s a bit pathetic. But it is true. And it has me wondering, what makes a song stick? What has us desperate to press play…and press it again and again and again and again until it’s played out? And what happens to us—or at least those of us who crave and indulge in the intense connections with the music we listen to—when we are without just that?

When we’re unable to find that connection with a piece of music, is it because we can’t find the right option or because we’re not in the right space or moment in our lives to connect in the first place?

I have been without this feeling for what feels like a while. Yes, I sat with Solange at the table. Yes, I went with Bon Iver to the Creek. And yes, I so, so, so enjoyed every moment with both. I appreciated the magnificence, the elegance, the uniqueness of both. But they were both flings—intense and real, but short lived.

These days, this is the nature of my affairs, and because of that, I’ve decided to experiment with silence. Silence in the NYC sense of the word. Being unplugged. Quiet mornings and long, headphone-less walks. Eavesdropping on a fighting couple outside of a restaurant or drunk best friends on the morning train. Picking up on all the sound bites within a one-block span. Listening to the stewing, swirling rabbit hole that is my brain. In other words, these days, without a song to be absolutely, head-over-heels in love with (because how else would you want to listen to music?), I’m listening to myself and my environment instead.

To be clear, sitting with myself or my surroundings sans music isn’t necessarily new, but this lack of a musical connection has made space for me to tune into these things on a deeper level. It has almost shown me that, for whatever reason, I need to. In this space, I’m growing to understand the value—the necessity—of silence. And I’m growing to not be utterly depressed when I sift through everything from Eddie Kendricks to Lucius without feeling truly touched.

So what am I trying to say here?

Sometimes, it’s not the music. It’s you. And sometimes, your music and how you relate to it will dictate what you should be listening to.

As for me, I’m getting more comfortable in this quieter period. I’m tuned in. I’m not in love with anything, but maybe now’s not the time for me to be. Maybe my next infatuation will be even greater than the last. Maybe my time with silence will show me just how close I can get with sound.