So taken with the melancholy

Music is a great catalyst for emotion because it gets to your core — Chris Milk

Last week, I discovered a piece of music I would dare to describe as the definitive theme, the musical blueprint that speaks to the relationship between my two main characters, my boys. The lyrics don’t speak entirely to the true nature of the relationship between my boys. It is the emotions the music evokes that simmers between them.

It happened by accident, to be honest. I follow a website called Nowness on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a great little site. So, I spotted one of their postings and because of the blurb and the image, I had to click and watch. What I clicked onto and watched was a dance video (if you want to label it as such) called The Idea of Us, directed by Geej Ower.

What adjectives can I use to describe this film (because it’s more than just a video)… heartbreaking, melancholic, breathtaking, tender, brilliantly simple in terms of its visual language and the body language belonging to the two characters, and just drop-dead beautiful. Yes, I’m a little obsessed with it, at the moment. I’ve never experienced before, a music/dance video, that basically put me under its spell the way this one has.

After seeing the vid, I was wondering what the fuck happened. The visual storytelling was clear. No ‘ifs, ands or buts’ about what it was about. That definitely didn’t confuse me. But I was left in the wake of the emotions, the intentions, the struggles of the lead character. They stayed with me. And that was pretty powerful.

You may watch the video and wonder what the fuck I’m talking about. I’m fine with you not understanding why this visual and musical manifestation of pain, loss and the struggle to move on is a masterpiece in my eyes and my heart. I’m also fine with you not reading this post anymore for whatever reason pops into your head. Later, dude. Make sure the door doesn’t hit you in the ass on the way out.

Movement, music and visual language are my holy trinity. Get the mix just right and it is beyond sublime. Ower’s video/film does that for me. I could spend days looking at that video, examining the details. Every. Fucking. Detail. I would go at it scene by scene, frame by frame. I’m such a geek.

You’d think I was looking for secrets. Secrets to what? I haven’t a clue and I don’t know what you’re talking about. But, if you insist, I’m looking for revelations and affirmations about my own artistic sensibilities — defining or redefining it by dissecting the sensibilities of others. Who are the kindred spirits? Who inspires me without even trying? If I met them at a bar, would we end up sharing a bottle of whisky or mezcal? I’m always up for new drinking buddies, especially when they make you think, in a good way.

I want to talk about the music as much as the visuals and the movement. Sometimes it’s so hard to separate them and talk about them in isolation from one another. It’s possible but it would be so wrong. So, I’ll start off with the music and weave everything else into it.

The song is This Idea of Us by UK singer-songwriter Jono McCleery. I don’t know what to say other than the combination of acoustic guitar teamed up with a string quartet and McCleery’s vocals has given me nothing but all kinds of intense feels. The kind that gently takes you by the hand and takes you on a slow burn journey that leaves you stunned and breathless at the end.

As an side, I have to say this: As much as I love the piano, I’ve become a sucker for string instruments. Their sound brings texture, complexity and nuance to a piece of music and to the sound of other instruments. I never thought to pair a string quartet with a guitar but it was done. McCleery’s friend, Matt Kelly, wrote the string quartet part for the song. He refers to Kelly as a wizard. I would have to agree. The layers of sounds he wrote for the strings, blend so seductively with McCleery’s voice. It really is sublime. Yeah, it’s definitely one way to seduce me. How do I know Kelly wrote the music for the strings? McCleery told me when we were chatting via Twitter. How did that happen? Well, I tweeted about being obsessed with This Idea of Us and we ended up having a small discourse.

So, back to that slow burn journey. That journey is manifested in the two characters in the film. Without a doubt, the two characters are portrayed by dancers because of the quality of their movement. While it’s not quite dance, the interaction and struggle is expressed in contemporary dance movements. The choice of particular movements enhance and magnify the music, the story and the characters’ motivations. And vice versa.

The visual choices the director makes, brings out the bittersweet melancholy of the song. Overcast skies with no hint of sun. Ambient light pouring into a home where its four walls, if it could talk, would tell you stories of a love that once lived there. The light is not harsh, cruel or dim. You’re just stuck in the grey. Nothing bright and colourful except for the rich blue sweater the lead character wears in most of his scenes. The memories of the past clashing with the need to move forward bleeds in the softness of shadow and light.

I don’t even know if what I feel when I listen to the song has been appropriately conveyed. Sometimes words are not enough or they can’t do justice to the intangibles. I think my words fall somewhere in between.

And I’m going back to play the crap out of that song again because it’s not done with me yet. It probably won’t ever be done with me. So enthralled. So taken. So under its spell.

Earworms and tall, cold drinks

Earworm — a song that sticks in your mind and will not leave no matter how much you try.

Last week, I spoiled myself and went to the movie theatre twice. I watched American Assassin and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Loved both of them. I must have a thing for spy/action movies. Rom-coms can take a hike. The only one I might sit through is Love, Actually.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Michael Keaton so it was great to see him again on the big screen. I have to say the man ages well. I have no problem looking at him.

But I was impressed by Dylan O’Brien as the lead protagonist. I haven’t seen him in anything before this which is probably good because the stuff he’s been in isn’t what I would normally watch. There wouldn’t have been anything that would have put him on my radar before American Assassin. Wrong demographic. Next time, I’d like to see him sink his teeth into a dramatic role and surprise me.

Now that I’ve watched the film, I have plans to read the book the film was adapted from. It’s sitting on the kitchen counter right now. Waiting for me. Yeah, it along with a whole bunch of other books vying for my attention. My curiosity about the characters piqued my interest in the book and I want to know more of their backstory and their character development that two-hour film doesn’t show the viewer.

And of course, I was listening to the film score. And yes, I will be downloading the score in the near future.

With Kingsman: The Golden Circle, I was just looking to be entertained after a long work day. And entertained I was. Right from the get-go. Chase scenes and fight scenes were superb as usual.

What makes those scenes, aside from the choreography, is the music. It’s a bit of an assault on the senses, specifically, sight and hearing. You see this awesome scene in front of you and your ears pick up on the music and it turns into one big badass party.

The final fight scene was epic. Not just because of who were going toe-to-toe (who knew I would a long cold drink after that one. I certainly didn’t… ah, my newest fantasy trio), but also because of the music used for that scene.

Who remembers Word Up by Cameo? Yes, that was the song for the epic fight scene. But it wasn’t performed by Cameo. It was performed by The BossHoss, a Berlin band who started out in 2004 turning hit pop, rock and hip-hop songs into country & western ditties. Didn’t recognize it until they started singing the lyrics. Holy fucking crap! Up until then, I didn’t know how badly I needed this version in my life. I couldn’t help but dance in my seat. Picking that song for that scene — pure genius.

I believe all the music selected for the film falls on its director Matthew Vaughan. I’d like to pick his brain. Word Up turned into an earworm for me. But it wasn’t the only song to catch my ear.

Inexplicably, John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads and Annie’s Song have been bouncing around in my head. Damn that man for using them in the film. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard a John Denver song used in a movie. Logan Lucky uses it. However, it wasn’t as jarring to hear it in that film as it was to hear it in Kingsman.

But you gotta love the contrast of all things American and British. It couldn’t be more apparent in the music selection. Speaking of which, Elton John is absolutely hilarious in the movie. Fucking. Hilarious. That’s all I can say.

And since I enjoyed that movie so damned much, I’m going to watch it again. Reinforce those earworms, why don’t I. Well, that and the eye candy. Subjecting myself to the eye candy is a good thing… as long as I have a tall, cold drink in hand.

Hopelessly obsessed

Sensory overload: When the brain and nervous system is bombarded with too much sensory input from one of more sensory systems and is unable to process and sort out the incoming sensory messages.

I run the gamut of being either under-stimulated or over-stimulated. Sometimes, I’m somewhere in between. Sometimes, I hit the perfect balance. Most of the time, I’m moving from one extreme to the other. That’s always fun. Well, not really.

Last week, I had been running on over-stimulated where my writing is concerned. Everything else in my life has been running on passable. I’ve written more in the last two weeks than I have in the last eight months. I wish I could say I was churning page after page of really great shit. I would have to ask my writing mentor’s opinion on that. I wish I could say I’m almost finished writing the story of my boys. But it’s a bit of a dream at the moment. One that I aim to have come true.

Maybe you’re wondering what’s gotten me so damned over-stimulated. Well, you can blame Game of Thrones. I’m referring to the music that Ramin Djawadi created for season 7. There is this new theme/leitmotif he created specifically for the relationship between Daeneryes and Jon Snow. And damn it, it is so fucking beautiful to my ears. I love how he layers that theme with other themes. I love how he layers themes, Period. He did that with the music for Person of Interest and that is a skill I admire. Anyway, I downloaded the GoT season 7 soundtrack from iTunes on the Friday before the season finale and I have not stopped playing it. Then I came across this lovely video you see below. He talks about creating the score, themes, the process and what inspires him when he is creating the music for the show:

I already had heart eyes for the man because his musical and compositional skills are so on point. His work inspires me. But after watching the video, my heart eyes got bigger than I thought was possible. When he was talking about his writing process, I absolutely understood what he was talking about. I just got so damned excited listening to a kindred spirit.

The important thing is that I’m writing and I’m hopelessly obsessed with the story right now. I spent a chunk of the weekend writing and watching what my characters would do for their next move. And I couldn’t be happier. This is what I’ve been fighting for. This is what my boys have been fighting for. Time together to fuck shit up.

Yeah, at some point I’ll need to do laundry because it’s piling up and all my bath towels are waiting to get tossed into the washing machine. Guaranteed three, maybe four, loads of laundry.

Then there’s the business of watching the third season of Narcos on Netflix. You know things are good when you have to decide between writing and having fun with your characters or watching one of your favourite streaming programs. So far, the writing is winning. I’ll get to Narcos eventually. Maybe today will be the day.

Maybe I should just flip a coin.