5/28/2019
The preoccupation

For some reason, I love the saxophone. I can't play it; I will never play it in my lifetime, perhaps; nonetheless, I love the way it sounds on songs. And maybe it's because I also grew up on Kenny G. in almost constant weekend rotation, but then, that's smooth jazz, and for better or worse, that conjures lazy mornings. I'm talking about the saxophone on arguably heavy songs.

One of the last songs I wrote about on earthings! - the music blog I ran for seven years and three weeks, the music blog that's been closed for six weeks and counting - is Sam Fender's "Hypersonic Missiles". I heard it up close on one of my afternoon walks and, well, boom went the saxophone solo. It cleaned up your last bit of doubt about whether the British newcomer can brush off the "how dare he try to be Springsteen?" questions. Here he did some bit of social commentary, which is one thing, but he also builds up the song into a euphoric, dizzying mess, and the saxophone put a period on it. He may be no Springsteen - that is difficult - but he can do it.

Inevitably, though, I wrote about the saxophone solo, the thing that drove the song to, er, hypersonic speeds. I remember that stupid grin on my face when I realized that's what's going to happen. I love the saxophone. More of, I love the sound of the saxophone on arguably heavy songs.

By the sixth year running the blog was becoming a chore, and I said as much on my entries. I was cramming things, missing secret deadlines, and pretty much doing things out of obligation than out of love. Well, I still love music, in that one-segue-leads-to-another way, but unless you're earning from it, or have made a lot of friends out of it, or are fully immersed in the whole thing - not just the listening, but the watching, the making, the schmoozing - it's going to wear you out. You have a lot of other things to do, you realize. Even if I made that my selling point - that I'm writing from the perspective of a guy who loves the songs but also has other preoccupations - eventually it wouldn't hold, because it just got, well, tiring.

I realize all of this today when I finally listened to Alex Lahey's "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself". She isn't a new artist to me: I wrote about her back in 2017, and she even made my ten favorites list that year. I knew she had a new album out. I knew when I got wind of a single announcement, back in February, which was, well, "Don't Be So Hard On Yourself". But I never got around to listening to it until today.

The Melburnian's got a way with a tune. Bouncy, frothy in that typical Aussie way, but with a crunch that doesn't quite go all out heavy - I don't really know how to describe it. Her songs sound fun, but you just know they go beyond that. By the way, that single also has a saxophone solo, and while she's not trying to be Springsteen, it doesn't diminish the impact. I had that stupid grin on my face. And then, I thought, if I knew about that earlier, I would've written about it.

Some have asked me about why I closed down the blog. I had many reasons. "I don't have time anymore," I told one. "Seven years is enough," I told another. I bumped into Isa - the college classmate I knew from high school, the one with whom I have an 18-year history with - last week and, when she asked, I told her I was getting tired of it. To be honest, none of the reasons satisfy me like a good story would, but then, that doesn't matter, for it's my blog (mostly) and I call the shots. But I'd like to add one more reason to the mix: writing about music almost daily meant I lost that sense of serendipity, when I chance upon a song and really like it enough to write about it, or at least tell someone about it. It's what happened with Kimbra; it's what happened with Mamamoo (and K-pop in general); it's what happened with my reentering the local music sphere, or at least portions of it, because the exclusivity still is annoying. But eventually, at some point, I felt I had to write about a song, and that diluted the impact of discovering a song I'd like. I didn't make that stupid grin as often as I should. It's difficult making that moment your selling point, too, for reasons I'm too lazy to explain here, but you get the idea. It's become a chore, you could say.

I thought I'd miss it so bad when I finally pulled the plug amidst a mini-storm of tributes (which did exist, I will insist). It's been six weeks, and while there are times when I look back at just what we've done, and there are times when I regret not being able to review a local release or another, for the most part, I don't. I don't miss it. This is the first time I'm writing about music in a somewhat critical manner in six weeks, and already I feel rusty. And it's good. I don't have to articulate what I feel anymore. I like it, and that's that.

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