Music is a constant part of my life. If I’m not listening to it, I have a song of some sort going in my head. I’m humming a tune, tapping a beat. I feel music on a deep, soulful level. John Paul Jones’ minor chord progressions on “Kashmir” make me cringe in ecstatic pain. Clouds don’t float as easily or beautifully above the landscape as Roy Bittan’s piano solo at the end of “The Fire Inside” (the first one is great, the second is transcendent) floats above rhythm section. The moment in “Where The Streets Have No Name” where Adam Clatyon’s bass line rises in pitch is what I imagine the doors of heaven opening sound like. Alex Lifeson’s guitar progression in the chorus of “Time Stand Still” makes my knees go weak.
For as deeply as I feel music, I don’t write about it well. Conveying how it moves and affects me is difficult and I struggle to put into words emotions that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s too much for me to clearly explain how a driving, powerful big band horn section sounds to me like fire sweeping across a landscape.
That’s why in 2018 I’m setting a new challenge for myself: At least once a week I’m going to write about music. And I’m not going to do it in my usual way, where I focus on the production of the album or the histories of the musicians involved or the social environment the album was released into.
I’m going to write instead about what it is that that moves me about the music. It might be a new record I’m trying out. It might be a band I just discovered that I’m digging into via a Spotify playlist. It might be a song or record I’ve listened to 58 times. Whatever gets my attention, I’m going to get past my inclination to retreat to an emotionally distant position and push well outside my comfort zone.
In some ways this is similar to what I did this past year by writing more openly and honestly about my employment situation and journey. Getting “real” about that and writing about it clearly has helped open up new opportunities, expanded my skill set and allowed me to share my experiences in a way that’s helpful not just to myself but hopefully to others as well.
Let’s see how this plays out.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.