Music as a “microcosm of the soul”

Belatedly, I’ve become besotted by the sonic cohesion of an album … as evidenced by the borrowed goliath black boombox stacked atop a turntable in my dorm room and my multiplicative library’a music in weathered sleeves/cracked plastic cases.

Listening to a record in full provides a different auditory experience than singles alone. Particularly analog mediums: vinyls and cassette tapes. CDs fall somewhere mid-spectrum between tangible and digital.

Presently, I’m playlisting Paperboy, my cautionary tale (read: book-to-be) about mythologizing/mythicizing people in a très romantique capacity … inspired by my true teen-ass tendency to valorize my crushees unawares!

Which I wholeheartedly advise against: A dashing dude I once described as the “dictionary definition of dreamy” was not actually a demigod, even if his prototypically tall/dark/handsome physique doubled as that of Clark Kent or a Calvin Klein model. Feelin’ mad alliterative today!

“Paperboy” = an allusion to the flimsy, one-dimensional pedestal perceptions I created of bros after whom I was jonesing in(to) middle school high school college. Unfortunately.

DON’T DO THIS. I say with vim and vigor: Such behavior will likely induce humiliation, cliché-crying in your childhood bedroom to Morrissey’s melancholy moan/The Perks of Being a Wallflower scene when Charlie says, “We accept the love we think we deserve” … and fodder for your first novel. Am I projecting?

Each of Paperboy’s thirteen chapters — prose-aic numbers/details = often inside jokes with myself or references to my own Paperboys of yore — is titled after a song corresponding to its content. Together, they comprise a soundtrack that captures the storyline’s overarching arc. (Any copyright regulations prohibiting this? Unsure.)

A crucial plot-point in my novel is its protagonist, a high school junior — who I decline to identify by name or gender, though for simplicity’s sake, I’ll employ “she/her/hers” pronouns here — records a personalized mixtape cassette for an enigmatic classmate/crush, thereby revealing to him a microcosm of her soul. Its reception? Ambiguous …

Other Paperboy-isms: balsa wood bridges, an astronomic observatory, fictitious band The Wayfinders (naming credit to my friend J. Duggan). Elation. Devastation. Hooked yet?

There’s something poignant about hearing resonant lyrics for the first time. I remember perching outside a university library on my laptop at nineteen whence fairy godmother Spotify granted me “Unloveable” — my proverbial primer to The Smiths. Or parking pre-sunup in an empty lot-spot of the rec center I worked at for a 4:45 a.m. lifeguarding shift, Radiohead’s “Creep” disseminating from Sebastian’s FM radio, thinking, This song was written for me. Both anthems, tellingly, are featured in Paperboy.

I associate certain bands (blink-182) with specific time-periods in my life (“Going Away to College”). Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping” elicits memories of my martial arts demonstration-teammates; The Presidents of the United States of America’s “Peaches,” my thirteenth birthday party. In middle school, I was a dual-legged Avril Lavigne encyclopedia, wistfully strumming tunes from Let Go and Taylor Swift’s eponymous debut album on my dad’s oversized acoustic Yamaha guitar.

(Re)discovering profundities (or recollections of painful reminiscences past; see “middle school”) via melodies-n-stanzas is one o’ my preferred pastimes. Sharing those eloquences, another.

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