Musical Tastes

Morrie said there’s nothing wrong with silence. And I agree with him. But I can’t get enough of music. My whole day in the office would always be filled with songs from a Spotify playlist. Not because I hate silence. It’s just that music relaxes me. It transports me back to a certain memory. It can bring nostalgia and it can be uplifting, at the same time.

We’ve heard of the healing powers of music. How it can apparently make babies smarter. Or make plants grow healthier. The point is, music is a cool thing!

I grew up with Alan Jackson, Shania Twain, and Garth Brooks singing in the background. True enough, Country music is a hit back in my hometown, Baguio, where you can still see men, especially the oldies sporting cowboy hats and boots.

The 90s exposed me to Bubble Gum Pop, Boy Bands, and Girl Bands; that time when Britney Spears was, well, still “innocent.” My older brother preferred Rock, Heavy Metal, and Grunge. We used to fight over it. He said it’s his lullaby. I would naively label it as demonic.

I eventually developed a liking to Alternative Rock and would always watch MTV as they proudly claim, “And we promise, no Boy Bands!”

My involvement with a local musical theater group made me a fan of Broadway songs and Lea Salonga, one of the best Broadway singers there is.

These days, I try to listen to diverse genre of music.

Music Background
Music Background With Different Genres and Types

Right now, I’m listening to songs of the 80s. So retro. This has to be my favorite era for music. The beat, the melody, and the lyrics are unique. We don’t really focus on lyrics, or the story, or the message of songs. But I have to say they were much more meaningful then. Unlike now where a lot of music is just about sex and gibberish expletives repeated over and over. It can such be a revelation when you try to dissect a song. Makes you want to go, “Really, that song’s about that?

You can pretty much create a song about anything and everything, and have all the artistic liberty in the world. It can be amusing, though, how today’s generation think their music is the bomb when in fact, it’s a cover. Reminds me of a React video on the collaboration of Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney where younger people commented, “I don’t know who Paul McCartney is but Kanye’s gonna give this man a career with this new song”; “This is why I love Kanye, shining a light on new artists.” Sad. And not surprising. I have nothing against contemporary music but I hope we try to go back a bit in the past and listen to what it has to offer. It could surprise us. But then again, to each his own.

There’s nothing wrong with silence. And surely, there’s nothing wrong with filling silence with music. As Plato brilliantly puts it, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” Thank you for the music!

Advertisements

Superheroes

Today’s generation would know X-Men from the superhero film series. For a 90s kid like me, though, I was introduced to these awesome superheroes through X-Men: The Animated Series.

Once the theme song starts, you can’t help but be pumped up through its adrenaline-rising mix of dramatic music and explosion of action-packed graphics that make you imagine of being a superhero yourself – flying, fighting with the bad guys, and doing cool stuff with whatever superpower you may have.

Originating from Stan Lee’s comics in the 1960s, X-Men is a showcase of well-written storylines expanding to alternate universes, the past, the future, and worlds beyond imagination. The characters, each with anything but simplistic backstory, have amazing God-like abilities of extraordinary strength, flying, teleportation, invisibility, shape-shifting, mental telepathy, telekinesis, energy-absorbing, energy-blasting, and an endless list of superpowers you can think of.

Beyond the glitz and the glamour, however, is a clear message of acceptance and anti-bigotry. Comic Book Girl 19 and Tyson Wheeler in their documentary, “Epic History: X-Men Volume I: The 60s Era” explained how social and political movements in the 60s became the inspiration for the backdrop of X-Men stories.

There’s the Civil Rights Movement, Second-wave Feminism, and Gay Liberation. X-Men’s “No more mutants!” and “Mutants are demons!” gave a glimpse of protests against what was deemed as unnatural or an abomination.

Martin Luther King dreamed of racial equality as Professor X dreamed of equality between humans and mutants. Malcolm X didn’t believe in Martin Luther King’s advocacy as Magneto opposed Professor X’s idea. Mutants claim they are born this way as gay people are, with a lot of them going into hiding for the fear of persecution and stigma. These are but a few of the real-life transitions.

tumblr_m9hxgkolPu1qfxwtoo2_1280
The X-Men #1 (Sept. 1963) is the debut of the X-Men, Professor X, and Magneto. Art by Jack Kirby.

The success of X-Men or any superhero for that matter is the hope that they present. We have the tendency of seeing the world at the beginning of its tragic decent towards destruction despite the fact that it’s actually getting better. The superhero fantasy can be a sort of an escape or is a reflection of our desire to evolve from being a loser to a kickass hero with well-chiseled abs. Plus, you get to wear your underwear on the outside and wear a cape, too, if you’re lucky.

Also, in a classic good vs evil conflict found in superhero storylines, we root for the good prevailing over evil. So we are not naturally evil after all.

Above all, what draws us to superheroes, beyond the mask, the colorful, crazy costumes, the fantastic powers, is their humanity. Their struggles, vulnerability, and the ever-persistent dream of a better world.

Three Songs

Writing 101 Day 3: Commit to a Writing Practice
Today’s Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you? Today’s twist: You’ll commit to a writing practice.

Only three? It’s like the genie giving me three wishes and I wish for unlimited wishes. I love music of different genres so picking three would be difficult. This is me apologizing to all my favorite songs which may not get picked today.

Before Frozen dominated the airwaves with its “Let it go, let it go…” Rob Thomas’ Little Wonders already urged his listeners to let go of whatever is holding them down. “Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulders don’t you know the hardest part is over…” It’s a hopeful song and if there’s a feel-good movie, I guess this is a feel-good song. A depressed friend once asked me to prescribe her a song that could ease her misery and Little Wonders was no little at all as the song somehow made her happy. The power of music.

If you think of a powerful song, One Day More from the Musical Les Miserables would definitely be one. I like how each singer, each character, each voice tells a story. And how this intertwines with another. Counterpointing. Different voices, different melodies. They come together, nevertheless, and create harmony.

Seasons of Love from the Musical Rent is another all-time favorite. The words are powerful. It succinctly describes friendship, love, and seemingly mundane moments summing up one’s life.