The Magic of Music

Today, music is on my mind.

I read this cool article about a scientist dude, Robert Davies, who got this idea to use music, specifically classical, to engage people while learning about climate change. He wanted to release human emotion, to let the shiver-inducing frequencies of music move through people, so they can feel what’s at stake.

And I know that shiver. I used to play the cello for nine years. I remember sitting in orchestra rehearsal in high school, and we were playing a song called “Elegy”—I can’t remember who the composer is anymore–which is this slow sweet minor piece that sounds as if you’re sinking to the bottom of a melancholy pond, but it’s not a bad place to be; it is one of the most beautiful.

Music is probably my favorite thing about being human. There’s something about it that is completely indescribable but at the same time completely and whole-heartedly necessary to our existence.

I love a ton of music from tons of different genres. Classic rock, jam bands, jazz, funk, metal, folk, classical, alternative, grunge. But my two favorite bands are Modest Mouse and Umphrey’s McGee.

I’m a word person. I get really attached to artists when they have beautiful, poetic lyrics that I can weave into the fabric of my own life, that act like little mirrors of my internal thoughts, that I can crawl into like a soft blanket.

And Mouse and Umphrey’s do just that.

My love for Modest Mouse has been around since I was in 5th grade. And didn’t think it was humanly possible to love them any more. And then today I looked up the lyrics to their new song Lamp shades on fire.

Oh, this is how it’s always been
And this is how it’s goin’ to be
So, you just move on


The air’s on fire so we’re movin’ on
Better find another one ‘cause this one’s done
Waitin’ for the magic when the scientists glow
To push, push, push, push, pull us up


Spend some time to float in outer space
Find another planet, make the same mistakes
Our mind’s all shattered when we climb aboard
Hopin’ for the scientists to find another door

I totally melted on the floor. Favorite band plus the topic I am beyond passionate about. Dude.


Modest Mouse from their 2014 summer tour

The funny thing about music is, at least for me, I can listen to a song a lot of times and then one day I actually hear the words. That’s what happened with this song–not my favorite song style-wise from Modest, but the message is undeniable.

We have all been kicking our shoes in the dirt, waiting for a scientific miracle to save us all. Remember geoengineeringHopin’ for the scientists to find another door. 

And have any of you heard of Mars One? The Dutch non-profit project? Yeah, they are sending 100 people out into space with a one-way ticket to colonize Mars and then die there. The air’s on fire so we’re movin’ on; Better find another one ‘cause this one’s done.

Modest Mouse is pretty explicit about their message. Humans have fucked things up and now we’re hoping it’ll go away or we can just dip out. But below is a couple lines from Umphrey’s McGee song, The Crooked One, that, for me at least, gets at the idea about how we have gotten ourselves in the position we’re in.

The context was twisted so everyone missed it
Except for the obvious sign.
The truth that they swallowed was empty and hollow
But nobody spoke up in time.

Music is powerful. I’m moved by music in so many different ways. There’s nothing that compares to when I listen to a song, and something deep inside myself, that moves me to tears. Sometimes I don’t know why this happens; it’s just the simple fact that music makes me feel. 


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