Thursday, 9 June 2016

"Where words fail, music speaks."

It's been exactly 3 weeks and a day since I kissed James goodbye and he said "I'll see you next week". Which means it's been exactly 3 weeks since he died. Since then I've started an intense love affair with three other men. You may think I move on fast but they go by the name of Robert Smith, Morrissey and Elliott Smith. Music seems to be the only medium other than writing that brings me comfort. It seems fitting as music was such an important part of James' life. He may have been tone deaf with a broken guitar sat in his room which he'd only played once but it was something he was passionate about. He said to me that he didn't trust people who didn't like music. He didn't understand how anyone couldn't be completely encapsulated by it. I understand what he said even more now. Somehow listening to The Cure - Greatest Hits on repeat and Morrissey's melancholy words numbs the emptiness I'm feeling.

I used to associate The Smiths and The Cure with family parties. Dancing manically, slightly tipsy with the people I love the most. Now, at this point in my life, they are tinted with a sadness. As I listen more closely to the lyrics they are ever more relevant and prominent. Perhaps I'm interpreting them in my own relevant way or listening for a truth that is known only to me and how I'm feeling but that's OK. I think that is how music should be listened to. It's there to be enjoyed and bring happiness and tears and memories. A song has a thousand meanings and interpretations depending on the listener and right now, I'm hearing James in every note, tempo change and breath.

We spent a lot of time on our last day listening to music and talking about bands and artists we liked. Although he hadn't heard of most of the bands I really like he was open to any that I played him and said they were "pleasant on the ears." We did share a love of The Smiths and when he decided on the tracks to play they happened to be my two favouirtes as well. I lay there in his arms listening with a smile on my face. I told him they were excellent choices. I remember thinking to myself that out of all the songs in the world he had decided to pick my two favourites. That meant a lot to me, it connected us more then anything. Now everytime I listen to Asleep the lyrics sound like they could be him. He died in his sleep, there seems to be a truth in the song for me. The only song I haven't been able to get through is This Charming Man. It was played at his funeral and sums him up perfectly. It came on my playlist the other day and I got 30 seconds in before having to change it. It was too soon for me. I couldn't do it. I probably won't for a long time.

The Smiths - Please, please, let me get what I want

The Smiths - Asleep

Elliott Smith is also an important part of my musical memory of James. He asked if I liked him and when I said he was pretty good he was shocked that I had the word "pretty" in there. He put on full albums of him and Elliott must have been playing in the background for hours. Again, the lyrics in the chorus of Waltz, NO.2 hit a chord with me and Twilight is the one that reminds me of him most.

Elliott Smith - Waltz, NO.2 (XO)

Elliott Smith - Twilight

However, the band that resonates with me the most is The Cure. There's something about their upbeat, melodic songs that capture James' personality perfectly. It makes me sad to listen but happy to remember. It's funny but James picked our song without even knowing it. And he picked a good one. When he asked which The Cure song was my favourite I said "probably a really obvious one." He looked at me and said "I like this one... even though it's a bit soppy" and put on Pictures of you. Out of all the songs he played me, this is the one that is ours. The lyrics are strangely relevant without him even knowing, the melody is perfect. For the rest of my life this will be our song. No matter where I am, if I put it on, I'll think of him. 

The Cure - Pictures of you

Of course there were many more artists that James loved. His respect for David Bowie, Joy Division, Pulp and The Pixies was obvious. He introduced me to The 1975 who I'd never listened to before. I'm confused by them. The more I play them, the more I don't think I like them. But they remind me of him so I'll keep playing them and keep being confused. He'd hate me for sharing his secret love of Justin Bieber. That's someone who won't get added to my playlist... Neither will the random Brazilian music he played me which he must have picked up on his travels. He left me alone in the room with it on and I remember thinking "What on earth am I listening to?" 

The artists and bands he loved, the music, is another thing that keeps him alive. That's a beautiful thing. Music can do something to a person which words often can't. For me the comfort in the melody, the truth in the lyrics fills a hole that would be otherwise unbearable.


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