I spent an hour of my afternoon listening to Dave Grohl’s keynote address at SXSW - it was totally great. He talks on the beginnings of his passion for music, how one song (Frankenstein - Edgar Winter), a punk rock cousin, and a concert on Independence Day, changed his life when he was thirteen. Throughout his 50 minute spiel, he emphasized, several times, the simple reward of just playing music and finding that feeling - the one
“that made [him] feel possessed and empowered and inspired and enraged, and so in love with life, and so in love with music that it had the power to incite a riot, or an emotion, or start a revolution, or just to save a young boy’s life.”
After watching Grohl’s keynote speech, I had a moment of “yeah man… yeaaah (y'know what I mean?)” and nostalgia for the anthems of my own early adolescence - the ones that incited within me, a riot, or an emotion, made me want to start a revolution, and probably saved my life.
One of the first CDs I ever bought was Green Day’s American Idiot; I bought it with my Christmas money when I was ten years old. Listening back to the album again today - man that’s not even so hardcore or raw, but it was still the damn coolest thing I’d ever heard at the time. All the other kids in my class hated Green Day but it felt like I’d found something that was just for me. It was packaged angst and defiance and “fuck you”. I guess 10 year old Theresa was pretty angry with being the black sheep, so it was kind of nice to see someone else give the middle finger. I bought my first guitar, scratched up the pick guard on the first day because I was jamming too hard to American Idiot (read as: playing the shit out of those three power chords).
DUN WANNA BE AN AMERICAN IDIOT! DON’T WANT A NATION UNDER THE NEW MEDIAAA! CAN YOU HEAR THE SOUND OF HYSTERIA? THE SUBLIMINAL MIND FUCK AMERICA. WELCOME TO A NEW KIND OF TENSION ALL ACROSS THE ALIEN NATION WHERE EVERYTHING ISN’T MEANT TO BE OKAAAAAY. TELEVISION DREAMS OF TOMORROW, WE’RE NOT THE ONES WE’RE MEANT TO FOLLOW, FOR THAT’S ENOUGH TO ARGUE! I’m not even American.
There’s such a sense of liberation in the whole “fuck you; us vs. them” mindset; it’s exciting to feel as if you were part of a revolution. It feels purposeful to be angry about something, to indulge in the selfishness of just not giving a fuck about those who try to bring you down. It feels fucking fantastic.
But even as teenage anger towards ~the establishment~ eventually fades, the understanding and appreciation for art just continues to grow. The whole ~omg this song gets me~ is exactly what it’s about. It’s not about the free feeling of a “fuck you”, it’s about something that understands and elicits every emotion in the spectrum. Music is what feelings sound like (citation needed), and that’s why it’s so damn cathartic. Whether it’s feeling like my freakin’ soul is weeping in joy at the sound of a beautifully played French horn, or wanting to dance to the latest pop hit, whether it’s playing in a symphonic ensemble or singing in the shower, it still all just boils down to a feeling.
As Dave Grohl puts it, it’s about “your voice”. That sounds like a horrible cliché, but isn’t that what being a musician is about? Having something to say/feel/express? You don’t have to be a top 40 hit; just playing something - anything - with all the feelings ya got, is good enough to get that message through to whoever’s listening.
I think I’ve digressed from whatever I was trying to say. Anyway, go Dave Grohl.