The Danger of Music

And sharks.  Sharks are CLEARLY trouble.I told myself long ago I would never start off a blog post with “<so and so> once wrote/said“.  To me that’s something you start a speech off with, not something you begin a conversation on.  And since a blog – or at least my blog – wasn’t supposed to be anything but a conversation then being all speech-y about it was just inappropriate.

Back then I was young(er) and naive(er) and didn’t realize that The Paul Gillespie Experience – and blogging in general – really combines the best of everything.  As such I think I’ll go ahead and forgive myself for what I’m about to say.

[which technically is no longer at the start so maybe I’ve nothing to forgive myself for?  but I digress]

James Baldwin (author of “Go Tell It On The Mountain”) once wrote “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”  Anyone who’s ever read a book for fun knows how accurate this statement is (and those of you who have not had the pleasure – and yes, it is pure pleasure – of being immersed in a work of literary artistry just trust me here).  No matter what kind of emotional pain you’re going through someone has been there before – and someone has written about it.

The same is true of music, I’d argue.  And, judging by my completely unscientific study involving a) being a child of the 80s, b) having friends who are music fanatics, and c) playing music video bingo on Tuesday nights, it’s a pretty good bet not only has someone written about the heartbreak and pain, but they wrote it (and probably sung it, too) in a country song.

Right now I just lost 31.9% of my audience because they realized I’m talking about country music.  But that’s OK; the blog will go on without them, and they can live in their unenlightened world for just a little bit longer.  Besides, I know other genres have just as much diversity – I just happen to listen to more country music than just about anything (exception: maybe 80s).

But seriously, I’ve had a lot of late nights lately doing some coding and what not and as such Pandora has become my friend.  If you’re not familiar with Pandora here’s the gist of it: you type in an artist or song or genre name and, using some pretty good algorithms (which may or may not involve black magic and bending the space-time continuum) it tries to build you a personalized “station” around what you put in there.  So I have my Brad Paisley station, for example, and it will play songs that it thinks I’ll like based on the songs/artists I tell it I like.  As it plays songs it gives you the option to thumbs up/down them.  It learns from your choices and after a while you’ll notice fewer and fewer thumbs down needing to be pressed.

Anyway, I’m jamming to my Brad Paisley station and suddenly the words from songs start hitting me like arrows shot from the bow of life.  The funny thing is I couldn’t tell you what it was about them that made them hit deep but everything from “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” to “If You’re Going Through Hell” to “Put A Drink In My Hand” all started giving me pause.  I could feel my foot tapping to “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me” and my heart break when “There Goes My Life” came on; my mind took a trip down memory lane when “Fishin’ In The Dark” started playing and I caught myself smiling when I heard the chorus of “Ticks“.

It wasn’t the normal reaction I have; a lot of time I just have music on in the background and I enjoy the beat or the chords, not necessarily the lyrics (witness Macklemore’s Thrift Shop:  NSFW).  But for whatever reason the last week or so the lyrics are really hitting me square, and I don’t know why.  It’s almost like they wrote some of the songs about me; like the songwriters were looking in on my life and said “BINGO; that’s exactly what we’re going to write about.”

And it’s not just one kind of song, either.  If it were all sad country songs I’d probably worry – but it’s not.  To be sure there’s some of the depressing songs that made country what it was* – you know: I lost my beer, wife, house, job, kids, dog, Daisy Dukes, fishing pole and truck – but there’s also a good mix of classic rock thrown in there along with upbeat songs.

 (* not “is” – what it is now is what rock was in the 60s and 70s)

So I’m at a loss.  Maybe it’s my lack of sleep (a few long nights), the fact that my passion is back (beach volleyball, in case you weren’t sure) or the excitement of jamming at a job I absolutely love.  Or maybe it’s simply music singing to my soul.  Whatever it is I’m not arguing with it – I’d much rather feel alive to a fault than build a wall to keep the bad (and, by extension, the good) melodies of life out.  It’s just interesting timing, that’s all.

Anyone else ever run into that?

(post image courtesy of

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