Audio-Slave by Alex P.
I listen to a lot of music. Well, that’s not really uncommon. A lot of people my age do. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s an art form. It’s perfectly fine to enjoy a melody or a particular riff, or that one line from that one song when he says what you’ve been thinking yourself all day long. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have a soundtrack to one’s life, but it’s important to remember that music, besides being beautiful, can be a very powerful thing. Now, we all know music has the power to change moods or to accent an emotion or to conjure up images in the mind’s eye, but even more powerful than that, at least in my case, is the power of association.

Say I’m riding in a car and “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis comes on the radio. No big deal, right? Well it is if that ride happens to be into town from the airport, taking me away from my direct reminder of a cross country trip my paranoid mind led me to believe I couldn’t possibly survive. I’m safe now. I’ve made it. The car journey is nothing compared to the three hours of dread and tension I just had to put up with. I survived. I want to remember this moment and everything about it: landmarks, conversations, and that song, that stupid Beatles rip-off watered-down poppy alternative piece of crap is now a symbol of immortality (temporary as that state may be). Songs soak up experiences for me, like that KFI song I was listening to in the car on my way to make up that late photography assignment which yielded a perfect grade, or that Moldy Peaches song off that burned CD my friend had the night we made a risky random journey through the streets of downtown Dallas. Songs soak up experiences. That’s why I keep buying more and more CD’s. The ones I have are full. Full of memories. Sometimes they get recycled, so my favorite song, eighth grade year, now becomes the soundtrack to my grandpa being hospitalized. A song soaks up experiences like a tampon soaks up menstrual blood, but when you’re done with a tampon you pull it out, throw it away, and never think about it again. Songs are different. I mean, I paid good money for that shit and even if I just leave it to rot on the bottom rank of my CD tower it still plays unexpectedly in my head. That’s why “The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails is now my seventh grade angst, and my fourth grade summer school English class, and my two week long flu freshman year of college.

Pretty soon these songs and these albums have their own personalities, almost their own minds. They have certain preferences, like the Tool box set is a loner and doesn’t like to be placed with the other CD’s or it threatens to corrupt them. And Sublime is very forgiving. I could leave it on the counter overnight and it won’t even send any nightmares my way. I could just be delusional (in fact I probably am) but it’s the same way that a certain place, like say the back corner of the Indian food store where there’s never a light bulb put in and the cheap plastic statues of Ganesh seem to stare at your very soul in condescension, a certain place can just give off bad vibes, and for me CD’s can too. That’s why I cringe at the thought of accidentally leaving that Morphine album on my car dashboard. That’s why I can’t go to sleep if the last song I heard on the radio was “Dragula” by Rob Zombie.

OK, I’m getting too morbid, and I must admit, it goes the other way too. I experience a certain type of euphoria upon hearing “Snake Driver” by the Jesus and Mary Chain. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders when I’m flipping stations and the classic rock station’s playing “Lonely is the Night” by Billy Squier.

Then there are certain instances that complicate the equation even further, or sometimes simplify it, like having a discussion about a particular song with my cousin, or seeing the band I like or hearing a cover.

In the end I just have to take the music for what it is. Enjoy it, learn from it, maybe learn to play a song or two. Catharsis shouldn’t have any lasting side effects. I shouldn’t let the music enslave me. I own it, it doesn’t own me. I’ll be alright as long as I remember that and as long as. . .wait is that. . .yeah, the intro riff to “Where Is My Mind” by The Pixies. Ah yes. . .