Music for Dancing on Your Grave

by Merry Mercurial

I freely admit that the position of my muse has a fairly hot and heavy turnover rate; so while my current raison de l’art may be Dwight Yoakam—specifically singing “Wild Ride” and “Fast as You,” more specifically rockatwanging terms like slim, side to side, along with my pride, sumpum, you’ll learn, shakes me . . . makes me, girrupoffa my knees, and do thangs right—the title has previously belonged to plenty of musicfolk. Freddie Mercury (the perennial). Sia. Syd Barrett and the boys (especially whichever one’s Pink). Tracy Chapman. Lady G. The Foo. Dreamboat Annie and Heartthrob Nancy. Marilyn Manson. Vienna Teng. It’s no short list.

And those who “make the cut” remain and are recycled even after my initial fever for them breaks, at which point I can liaise with them writer to animus with a whole new long-sighted sense of security. Still. That honeymoon phase with some fresh muse is a hell of a rush.

As for why I nominate for this coterie from the world of music… well, (a), I don’t know that I do. I wake up, hear what I’ve heard a million times before but suddenly it’s mint—some jewel tucked away in its arrangement I’ve never felt the shape of before—and then I am rather stupid-in-lovely off to whatever YouTube-looper website’s currently functional for days of obsessive repeats and writing writing writing till satisfied I’ve produced something that is, if not a description of that weird and wonderful jewel, a better than half-assed tribute to it.

(b): Music just makes sense as a stimulating field for writers; it can provoke unforeseen visuals while plucking at latent memories and tying some easy emotion to a more remote, obstinate one in the length of a single verse.

But also (c): Ever had it where the fact that some good thing was committed and is therefore now real creates an exquisite burden of worship for you? Albethere people who many consider the Art Thing you love shallow, you know it’s deep because you almost goddamn drowned in it but right before you lost your senses and the ugly white beyond took over, you were jerked back to the surface where you realized this wasn’t attempted murder–this was baptism. And you understand the Art Thing’s creator to be a rebel against inertia, mediocrity, nothingness. And whatever triumphs over nothingness insinuates itself in that sacred old territory of salvation—if a blank is death and death blank, any worthwhile something opposes the grave.

Not that you listen—as from a pew, as though on your knees, real heart spilling cartoon hearts into the sky—to grant some musician eternal life. Maybe the sting of soandso’s mortality is assuaged by the moment of art, but that’s more their business than yours. Your errand is concerned with the beating effervescent distinctly alive ability to listen. And dance. To “yes and” some sibling soul’s creation. To cheer on the making of something and specifically this.

And then to go write. To create your own thing. To pray a nondenominational prayer to everything worth putting into words. To, yourself, dance in the cemetery and howl FUCK YOU at the moon spilling spotlight on your grave. To insist on some story and specifically your story.

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