a starman, waiting in the sky….

David Bowie – Starman

At the end of the previous post I kind of got sidetracked into a discussion of the big playlist I carry around on my laptop, and the role that music plays in my daily life. Music to me is a coping mechanism, and it’s a source of occasional inspiration, and it’s also the cave where I go and hide when the world gets to be too much.

It might surprise you, but I came to David Bowie very late in life — as in just in the past five years. Growing up, sure, I was exposed to all the popular music of the ’90s and onwards. I still have good memories of listening to the Spice Girls, Boyzone, and the Eraserheads and Parokya ni Edgar. But the prevailing music at home was — surprise — techno, or what would now be recognized as something like electronic dance music. It sort of had to do with the work that my parents were doing at the time — they had collections of music that they could use at various kinds of events, so there were active-sounding techno mixes for outdoorsy events and mellower music for galas and dinners and things like that.

After that, well, I kind of started going my own way. I was and still am pretty shameless in listening to the anime music of the ’90s and ’00s. The opening and ending tracks to various classic anime series? Still my jam today. And I will still back “Yuzurenai Negai”, the first opening theme from the CLAMP manga/anime series Magic Knight Rayearth, against any and all comers (including Kanno Yoko, because I love the track that much).

I also have had a long-time yen for the scores and background music of various movies. I used to have the soundtrack of Amelie somewhere on one of my drives, and bits and pieces of things like the Pacific Rim OST and tracks from the new series of Doctor WhoFinal FantasyDragon Age, and assorted cuts from Mass Effect — they’re here, they’re part of my aural landscape, and they’re pretty handy for all kinds of writing, as it turns out.

The other thing I wanted to talk about in terms of my relationship with music is that music was a big thing between me and my ex. Working the graveyard shifts together, we’d send each other songs to help get through the night. He was most likely to have been the one to introduce me to David Bowie — we both enjoyed songs like “Heroes”. For a long time, whenever I thought of music I’d wind up thinking of him and the songs that we both liked.

You can imagine the profound surprise and relief that washed through me the first time I listened to what used to be one of our theme songs — “When You Say Nothing At All” — and only felt a sort of bittersweet pang for what that song used to mean.

Is it taking my songs back? My music? But the music was created by other people; I was only attaching some emotions to the words or to the melodies. Still, that’s the thing: the music, the playlist, that I used to half-identify with my past is something else now. It’s my present and the things I want to do now, the things that are now pretty much divorced from who and what I used to be at the beginning of this year.

(It’s still a little strange to think that I can think about getting over all those years of a relationship in just a few short months, but again: perhaps we were already falling to pieces for a long time, and I was given the chance to change and move on even while I was still clinging to what little there still was.)

Oh, and there’s some serendipity for you: as I wind up this blog entry, my playlist has just cued up one of my very favorite pieces of music. You’ve heard this tango before, if you’ve seen True Lies or, especially, Scent of a Woman: “Por una cabeza” (music by Carlos Gardel, lyrics by Alfredo Le Pera).

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