I love how music can so easily be the sort of thing that can suit any mood, any state of mind, and any activity. I'm a very changeable sort of person. At any given point in my life, I seem to be a million different people all at once. Then there's the way I change over the years. I can look back even a few years into the past and see where many of my values and interests have shifted (or at least evolved) significantly. I'm never sure how I feel about this. On one hand, I realize that change is good, but on the other, I often long to be more consistent.
One thing that doesn't really seem to change for me is the music that I love though. I don't tend to look back on albums I used to like as a kid or a teenager and think things like: "God, I'm so embarrassed that I ever listened to that
. What was I thinking?" Instead, I'll rediscover it, look at it through fresh eyes, and feel almost the same way about it that I did then. In this way, my music collection tends to grow over the years, much more than it actually changes.
The first time I really fell in love with music and allowed it to become more than just amusing background noise for me, it was with the likes of acoustically-oriented female alternative musicians like Tori Amos
, Sarah McLachlan
, and Aimee Mann
. Later on after high school, I would branch out to really embrace more rock-oriented artists like PJ Harvey
, Liz Phair
, and Alanis Morisette
As I'm sure was the case with many artistic young women who probably thought way too much and socialized way too little, I found understanding and commiseration within their songs that I didn't seem to know how to get from actual friendships or relationships yet. They were my girlfriends and my role models before I knew how to find any outside of my own head space and I don't think I'd really be the same person without them.
It was just always so comforting to know that no matter how bad a day I'd had and no matter how misunderstood I felt at home, I could put on my albums when I got home and instantly feel better. Maybe my mom, my teachers, and what few friends I felt I had didn't understand what I was going through... but Tori, Alanis, and PJ sure did! Just knowing that someone else -- even musicians I'd never meet or talk to in person -- had been through the same things and had the same feelings helped me through it and the music I listened to throughout those years will always have a special place in my heart because of that.
These ladies have also inspired me creatively over the years. Songs of theirs have been the seeds that resulted in numerous stories, poems, and art pieces of my own. They've helped me develop my personal style and find my own unique voice as a creative individual. Their music is also something I can count on to put me in the right frame of mind to write or design for work.
Lately, I've been struggling off and on with depression, as well as a lot of professional frustration. I'm at yet another place in my life where I feel like I've hit the wall in regards to the path I'm currently on. Although I definitely want to continue working professionally in the arts, things nevertheless need to evolve or change direction right now if I'm ever to get where I want to be. It's amazing how similar the feelings that situation produces are to the angst of my teenage and college years though.
Music's been helping me through that process in the same way it used to. Tori Amos
and Fiona Apple
may not be the daily mainstays they once were for me in those days, but I find their music to be as beautiful and comforting as I did way back then. I've been listening to them quite a bit lately, as well as other similar artists I somehow missed getting to know when they first exploded onto the scene, but have become happily acquainted with over the years. (Ani DiFranco
and Regina Spektor
are great examples.)
I'm especially listening to a lot of Suzanne Vega
right now and wondering why I never got more involved with her music sooner, because her music suits me to a tee. Something about her song Caramel
from her album Nine Objects Of Desire
is resonating right now and I can't stop playing it. It's probably easily my favorite track from any artist at the moment.
If you enjoy the sort of music I've been talking about, but aren't acquainted with Ms. Vega or with that particular album, I highly recommend checking it out on Spotify or something (because they have it). It's just lovely and I'm not sure how I've lived without it officially being part of my collection all these years.