Giving meaning to music


Trev’s death is going to affect us, his family, for as long as we live.  What’s “interesting” is the different ways it affects us; the unexpected changes.

Music, for example, is something I respond a little differently to now: specifically, quieter, gentler music.

I’ve always loved Debussy’s Clair de Lune, but before Trev died I listened to it as a piece about observing someone you loved as they slept.

Call me weird.

Since Trev’s death that sense has changed; Clair de Lune has become about remembering someone you loved; it’s suffused with melancholy.  I can’t listen to it now without being reminded of Trev, even though it has nothing to do with Trev.  It’s simply the mood it creates for me.

Charlie Brown talks about sad musicThis happens when listening to most songs of a similar mood and tempo now.  What before were gentle and quiet but not sad songs are now sad; they’re wistful rather than soothing, teasing out a tiny smile rather than a wide grin.

The Decemberists’ released their album The King Is Dead just a fortnight before Trev died and this, for me, is now inextricably tangled up with his death, in particular the song June Hymn.

At around 2’10” there’s a part that begins, And years from now when this old life isn’t ambling anymore, which still moves me to tears, even though it’s nothing to do with Trev.  Hearing it always conjures up an image of sitting alongside my brother, Rich, when we’re both old and grey, without Trev.

We all give songs our own meanings, but I hadn’t realised before how those meanings can be altered and bent by our experiences.

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2 thoughts on “Giving meaning to music

  1. Russell Martin April 5, 2013 / 2:18 pm

    Very poignant and insightful piece of writing Stu (as always). Nice to read a bit more about your family too.

  2. Silly Wrong But Vivid Right April 12, 2013 / 8:23 am

    Beautifully said. I completely relate. Music and lyrics take on completely different meanings when you’ve experienced extreme emotions like pain or loss or love …

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