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    Mistress Music (part 1)

            Driving home from Boston on New Year’s day, I gave my latest musical purchase it’s first listen. Southbound on I-93, Metallica’s Death Magnetic performed it’s merciless virgin assault on my unsuspecting senses.
            A musician for over thirty years, music has had a deep, profound impact on my life. Before I ever picked up a pair of drumsticks, music was listened to, played, and enjoyed in the house I grew up in. My older brother turned my twin brother Mike and I onto The Beatles, CCR, The Rolling Stones, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and The Monkees well before we hit double digits. I remember sitting on his bedroom floor, Mike and I digging through albums for hours, marveling at all the amazing images that exploded off of the seemingly gigantic one-square-foot canvas. More than some vague ethereal entity, music became a life partner. A lover who would never leave me.
            Partially because of that connection that goes back to childhood, and partially because of wonderfully mysterious reasons, music has always been a whole-being experience for me. I don’t just hear it. I feel it. I see it. I taste it. I smell it. And, invoking that mysterious sixth sense, I metaphysically experience it on a whole different level. Listening to music takes me far beyond my senses.
            The right music can therefore be nothing short of a spiritual experience. No different than say when a devout Christian hears the word of Christ, or sees Christ’s image. And because it transcends the parameters of language, as vast as those parameters might be, a spiritual experience can’t be fully explained or described.
            This transcendent element is what makes music one of the most powerful and moving forces of my life. It’s also what sometimes drives me nuts about it. Because I desperately want to accurately describe my experience to people. I badly want to talk or write about it so vividly and articulately that you get it. You get it just like I did. I want to share it with you because I know that in that sharing, a profound connection can be created.
            So when I can’t describe or explain it to the point where you can get it too, the experience remains somewhat solitary. It stays between me and my music. And as wonderful as that is, something in me is always yearning to include someone else.
            So these experiences I have with music can be, in a way, bittersweet. They are so profound and intense that I feel a deep connection to life. And they are so personal and indescribable and unique that I feel somewhat alone.
            On Death Magnetic, track four “The Day That Never Comes”, and track seven, “The Unforgiven III” are two of those songs that put me completely over the edge. And by the way, whenever possible, I have to play such songs at maximum volume. That’s important. I want to physically feel the music in my chest. And in my crotch as well, truth be told. Because on some level, all music that moves me has a sexual element. Partly because all music that deeply touches me makes me feel sexy. And partly because sex is what creates life. Well so does music. Music literally gives me life.
            The right music gives me life by creating vast energy within. This energy literally transforms my reality. It transforms my experience of life, and therefore my life itself. The right music stirs my blood to a boil. It ignites a limitless passion. It gives me a sense of immense power. It connects me to the moment. It produces the most incredibly intense emotions. And it moves me so profoundly that I travel to a different place.
            As far as I’m concerned, that’s on par with the actual physical creation of life.
            And it’s completely non-cognitive. The right music bypasses my mind and touches something else inside of me that nothing else can access. Only music has this magic key that unlocks this exclusive sacred space within me. The right music liberates so much energy and emotion from inside of me that I must release it, somehow, right there.
            If I’m in a situation where it’s inappropriate to act this out, I go inside, get quiet, and experience the song in an introverted manor. People have seen me do this. I will stop talking, my gaze fixated between my own eyes, looking in, and I will leave the physical experience and enter the music. Then lose myself in it.
            Sometimes I can stop this from happening and remain part of the collective human race. But sometimes I can’t. Or I just plain don’t want to, because I love the song so much. If that’s the case, I’ve been known to excuse myself from the conversation and say “Excuse me, but I’m really into this song. I’ll be right back as soon as it’s over.”
            That’s why it’s sometimes hard for me to “casually” listen to music that I love. Because there’s nothing casual about it. It’s bloody intense.
            This can be a bane. Especially in a social situation where I’m surrounded by people. I get torn, because I want to talk and connect and communicate. But I also feel the magnetic pull of the music, calling to me like The Sirens of Greek mythology. And, like Odysseus, I have to be tied down to resist (but that’s a whole different story). Sometimes I simply can’t refuse the call.
            It’s a peculiar “problem” to have. But I’m sure many other musicians, or other intense music freaks, can relate. And I’m curious as to how they deal with this.
            I know at least one reason music can do this to me. Because I let it. Many years ago, I let music in. All the way in. No walls or defenses. Music was safe. Music wasn’t going to hurt me the way people had. Music could make me feel just as much as any person could. And she would never leave me. She would love me, no matter what. As an adolescent with an abandonment complex and little self worth, I can’t say I honestly knew that about anybody, or anything, else in my life. So I trusted music and let her all the way inside of me. And she’s been there ever since.
            In a way, my experience with music has given me a model for an intense, bona fide intimate relationship with a woman. I’m finally ready to trust the right woman enough to let her see all of me. I’m finally ready to let her all the way inside. Just like I’ve done with music. I’m ready to allow her to touch me in the most profound of ways. I’ve had a taste of it. Now I want the whole thing.
            In that sharing of self, I will finally experience, with another person, the kind of spiritual intimacy that I’ve had with music. I’ll have that most sacred connection to another person. Without having to explain it or describe it. Without worrying about the limited parameters of language. Because she’ll be there with me. Just like the music is. Finally, I’ll have let somebody all the way inside of me. Just like I did with music. Someday, a certain someone will occupy that sacred space with me too.
            Most of my life, music has been my true love. But there’s plenty of me to go around. There’s more than enough me to share with another. To give to another. Completely. And for the first time in my life, I’m really looking forward to that.
            Truly. A Happy. New. Years.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and an New Year’s full of Wrongs) Reserved.

    To hear samples of the songs mentioned, click on the orange titles of the songs themselves, or go here.

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    Reader Comments (5)

    The short answer to this riddle is that, unless you are a musician, you will NEVER get it. How can you possibly quantify the power music has on your soul to a layman? I don’t think it is possible. But rip through a tune with a group of musical friends, connecting so deeply that it reduces you to tears, and all you have to do is look in their eyes. You know they got it, they felt it, they understand it. It is not a solitary experience for me but a collective one. Unfortunately it is only shared within an exclusive club. They have their own exclusive language; trade fours, go to the bridge, take the coda. They have their own alphabet; Cm7, D#maj7, G6. They have their own codified writing with lines and dots and swirls and sharps and flats.

    A spiritual experience? Hell, yeah. Transcendental? Rarely. But when it happens you will never forget it. Just try to get someone else to understand your relationship with the craft or comprehend the relationship you have with your fellow musicians with whom you spend a lot of time. Even your lover will question it at some point, and in most cases, unless you compromise, it will cost you. Jealousy will rear its ugly head. It may even cost you your lover.

    So why do it? Why do I do it? Because when I open up my trumpet case and look inside, there she is. She can be very temperamental, even ornery. Sometimes I let her down and sometimes I don’t treat her right. But every time I open the case, there she is. She has never left me, never questioned my commitment, and never doubted the passion I feel when she is in my hands and pressing against my lips. She will never leave me. Music is my drug and my oasis. Don’t try to understand it. All I ask is that you accept it.

    January 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGlen Carliss


    Amazing response. Thank you.

    You speak of the musical experience from the perspective of the musician performing his art, which is a great, albeit different, angle than from where I was coming from. I'm talking about the experience purely from the standpoint of a rapturous listener. But you've inspired me to write about my music experience from the performance angle. So as always, you move me my friend. Thank you.

    By the way, Sunday afternoon was a hoot wasn't it? I really enjoyed playing with you. But next time, I'm bringing my whole friggin' kit and I'm going to blow the doors off the place!


    January 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

    Interesting post, great response by Glen. I would love to hear either or better yet both of you play. Very sorry I missed the gig Sunday...
    As a non musician but rapt listener, I share the full body experience that good music can produce in me. I crave that fix, like a drug. Whether its live music, a random song on the radio, or a dance party at home with me as the DJ, music can set me free and bring me joy like nothing else. Certain tunes bring back memories of people, places and events like scents. New music brings new joy to my life, i want to share it, experience it, and move to it. There's nothing like the feeling when a good song is playing and my body just forgets where it is and who I am and just moves to the sounds it feels, be it the package or a single instrument. Wow. That's freedom of expression!
    The post brought up a few thoughts for me, and I'm looking for feedback... I assume from experience that some folks listen to the instruments, some to the lyrics, and some to the whole enchilada. For me, some songs are all about the words, other times its the instrumentals that truly engross me. I know people that never ever know the lyrics to the songs, just the notes, which seems foreign to me to be oblivious to the poetic piece. I was wondering how others perceive and receive the package, especially as a musician.
    Another piece of the musical experience I find compelling is how it serves as a window into someones personality, and how you can deduce a bit about a relative stranger, or even someone you know quite well by their musical tastes. It provides a new avenue to explore a relationship.
    I have a friend who is not much of an music aficionado. He prefers silence in direct opposition to my usual preference to have some music on in the background at all times. I feel the music adds another layer to the environment. He feels it is a distraction from what is happening inside his head with the thought process, and has accused me of using it as an excuse not to look at myself too deeply because I allow myself that pretty much constant distraction. I guess there is an element of truth in that, but I find total silence oppressive unless i am sleeping or concentrating on something that requires a great deal of thought, like studying or reading. Comments?
    I share Clint's deep connection with music as a listener, and i absolutely loved gaining the perspective that Glen brought with his comparison of his trumpet to a lover, and the jealousy it could instill in a partner. Is it any wonder that the audience routinely falls in love with the soulful players as they perform? The passion they feel for the creation of the music is palpable. I also love the knowledge of the (to me) mysterious language musicians share, a world all their own. I love your l passion, your speaking in tongues, your creativity and what it engages in me. The groove truly is in the heart...

    January 8, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterasven

    I excited to read part 2, you have a wonderful post

    February 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermp3musicasite

    Thank you, asven and mp3musicasite. I will continue to encourage you to start your own blog asven, because you definitely have the chops for it.


    March 5, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

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