Books, Psyche, and Music: A Journey into the Self

I don’t know if I can speak for everyone, but based on what I’ve seen in my sixteen years, it seems that there is not a single teenager out there who has never struggled with finding themselves, figuring out their identity. It’s really scary, standing right there on the edge between child and adulthood without a buffer, preparing yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally to be pushed out into the real world and be a grown up. You’re supposed to have it all figured out — have a dream school, a dream job, and a plan for your dream life. You have to know what decisions you need to make to lead you down your chosen path, but how do you know what’s right for you? Then you start thinking about yourself to try and figure it all out. Let’s see, I like listening to concept albums, participating in habitat restoration, reading Kurt Vonnegut novels, drawing zentangles, and going on spontaneous adventures. I don’t like the commercial corruption of art and someday I hope to be the lead guitar player of a protest band and live in a house covered with murals that I have painted myself. Well, now that that’s settled, how is that supposed to help me figure out what I want to do with my life? What the heck does all of this even mean about me?

Like the paranoid and confused Holden Caulfield, I was worried about choosing a path that would change who I am and that I would lose the essence of my identity in the process of growing up, but I soon found myself pondering an even deeper question: how do we even know who we are? Obviously, identity is more than just what’s on your driver’s license. But trying to figure out what actually constitutes a person’s identity only lead to more and more questions. Continue reading

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Songs for Submersion

I’ve never been much good at sleeping. From the hours of 8:00 am to about 8:00 pm, I’ve got weights tied to my limbs and head, I’m dragging and exhausted. But once the sun goes away and it’s dark and cool outside, my brain is filled words and ideas and melodies and it overflows until I have to lay in my bed writing all over my hands and arms to get everything out, and to make sure that I won’t forget when the sun rises. By about midnight, I itch to play my guitar so badly that it feels as though my insides are on the verge of tearing open and exploding, but facing the wrath of my family, recently awakened by a late-night jam session, would probably be worse than self implosion. Since I can’t make my own music at this time, I do the next best thing: listen to other people’s music.

When I’m like an accumulation of hyperactive, excited gaseous particles, I need a steady beat to crawl into my ears and liquify me. I need to bathe in vibrations, and come out fresh and clean and enlightened. Continue reading

The 60’s: A Societal Earthquake

60s Collage

Every so often, the ground shakes beneath your feet. Usually it’s just a little tremble, testing your ability to stand upright while all that surrounds you shakes. But every once in a while, your entire world is shaken to its very foundations. All that has been built over last few decades, maybe even centuries could be uprooted, shaken, and crumble to the ground. During the 1960’s the world that had been established by generations previous — a perfect little world with definitive lines to divide right and wrong — experienced a violent earthquake that shattered the validity of previous belief systems.

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I’m One – the Who

What are we all? Is each person just a blind, confused creature searching to find his or her place as a cog in the machine that is the world? Or are we more like quarrelling dogs, trying to assert dominance in our packs and to leave the greatest mark upon the world? The the search for one’s identity is a wildly conflicted journey both mentally and physically. Often, we try to stand out amongst the others while simultaneously trying to fit in with a group and be accepted. This psychological battle with the self is accurately depicted in the Who’s song “I’m One”, from the concept album (one of my favorites) Quadrophenia. Everything about this album is phenomenal, from the plot to the lyrics to the instrumentals (the Entwistle-Moon combo is in my opinion the greatest rhythm section of all time) to the composition and even the cover art (by rock photographer Ethan Russell). Continue reading

Songs for the Rain

rain music

Rain. It is both beautiful and melancholy, life-giving and destructive. Even its sound is full of juxtapositions: it can be a soft pitter-patter or a violent, thunderous roar. It is the perfect muse for poets, painters, and musicians alike. Rain is used as a metaphor for many things: humanity, society, balance, and even life itself. I have been inspired by the rain that is currently falling here in southern California (which hardly ever happens) to write about my top five rain-inspired songs, what they mean, and how the nature of rain allows it to be interpreted in so many different ways.

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