ACT: Revisiting the yearningWritten by Rachel Richardson | | email@example.com
It has been brought to my attention that the ACT column has a loose end in the form of a foreshadow that needs to be tied up. I think I may have let my mystically fascinated side show a little more than usual a few weeks ago and mentioned a theory I have about why humans create music and said that I would discuss it further in a future issue of the Star.
Coincidentally, at this moment, I want nothing more than to write the most lyrically smart and melodically sophisticated song I have ever heard; the kind that makes you shake your head and feel that warmth in your chest. But I can’t seem to get there. So, instead, I’ll revisit the origin of the yearning itself and how that seems to play out in the Toledo music scene. This isn’t the first time I’ve woken up on a Sunday with a song trying to come to life and after struggling with that for awhile, I’ve said to myself, “If you can’t write a song, at least write a column”.
So, on to my borderline spiritual but, really just fun to think about idea, that The Universe (or whatever you call it) insists on hearing music. In my imagination, to that end, it sets up scenarios that injure the mind or heart of an artist in such a way that the catalyst for healing that injury is to make music for the Earth to ultimately hear.
I realize this is kind of dark. But, find me a musician who isn’t, at least, a little bit tortured and I’ll buy you an ice cream cone.
We’ve all heard of art “filling a void” in the artist. I prefer to think of it as more of a negotiation than simply a hole, which implies a relationship between me and the force that orchestrated my injury. A conversation I’ve recently caught myself having, with no one in particular, sounded something like, “If I sing prettier, will it stop hurting sooner?”
Doesn’t that serve a lovely purpose for the thing requiring the song of me in the first place? This thing knows what it’s doing and it knows what it wants to hear. I suppose, rather than assume that all music comes from pain — I should consider that joy and gratitude are sensations that can just as easily be communicated through song. Of course they are. It’s as if The Universe says, “Here. Have this emotion. Or deal with this set of circumstances. Now, tell me how it makes you feel, but make it sound pleasing”.
This inevitably brings me to the enormous amount of music being made every single day in Toledo. And beyond that, the human relationships that come out of each of our attempts to sing pretty for The Universe. I could name you several sub-groups of musicians who have come together to do their part in making the city’s music. Perhaps you’ve heard of Old West End Records, Pretend Records, or Danger Limited Sound Company? These three labels each represent local musicians as solo artists as well as in mixed and matched combinations of people with intertwined musical and personal relationships.
I can only speak to the inner-workings of Old West End Records because that’s the family I have found myself a part of, but we are most certainly an interdependent crew that wants to succeed as a group, as well as individually and in all of our different manifestations. We recently had a big family dinner where we discussed the past, present, and future of ourselves as a creative business. It was beyond exciting to be in a room with so many people who understand why sometimes it’s difficult to concentrate on your worldly responsibilities like day jobs or school because of this insatiable need to hear or make music every minute of every day.
How comforting to not only know that I’m not the only person who sometimes has a surge of inspiration or a wave of heartache that can only be quelled by picking up a guitar and singing it away, but to get to share time and space with so many others like me.
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician, co-founder and co-director of Independent Advocates, and a product of Toledo, Ohio. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.