Enjoy the Silence

Yes, I did just reference Depeche Mode in my blog title.

I have, on several occasions, mentioned how I like to think. I won’t get into how that is sometimes not really a good thing, but I’ve been thinking about thinking, so I decided to write about it (at least to some extent).

As I type this, it has just turned 2:00 a.m. For my entire life, I have been somewhat nocturnal. I love the quiet and the peace of just enjoying time to myself when no one else is awake, and I use this time to do a lot of thinking and reflecting (and, in college, homework). Sometimes I take this time to collect my thoughts and process them into something that will resemble a coherent blog. Tonight is not one of those nights. This is Renee Unplugged. And speaking of Unplugged, there is music.

I’m sure that when I was in high school, I used to stay up late and listen to music. It’s always been such an integral part of my life that I can’t see how I wouldn’t have done that. In fact, most of the time, I would rather turn on iTunes than watch TV. It wasn’t really until I got to college, though, that I realized the pure joy that comes from just lying in a pitch black room, thinking to music. 

Okay, okay. I may have been going through a thing or two when I first started relying on this past time as a coping mechanism, but I grew to really love the time I had to reflect. Stick with me, here. Music is poetry and poetry is literature so therefore, it should follow that music is literature. I learned in English classes to deconstruct poems and novels and figure out how they say something about the grander scheme of things. Sure, there is a lot of really bad music and it doesn’t say much about life, but good music can at least inspire a feeling or give me something to grab onto and work with. I have neither the time nor space to talk about conclusions I draw, decisions I make, and so forth as a result of this time to myself.  Suffice it to say that I find it effective and helpful. When I was in college, this is when I would get the crying out of my system if it was necessary. I still do that sometimes, but not nearly as often. Like I said, there was a thing. It may have lasted a few years.

So I listen to music and I lie in the dark and I really listen, because I’m trying to hear what I’m trying to tell myself. Sometimes I think about how stupid other people are (please, like you’ve never thought that. Humankind in general ruins a lot of good things).  If you’re like me and you find yourself tense and anxious, even if you’re not so big into the thinking, this is a good way to relax.

So before I go away from here and try to trick myself into falling asleep before 3 a.m., let me tell you some of my favorite “Thinking in the Dark” music.

For the first half of college, my staple album for this time was Pete Yorn’s Musicforthemorningafter. (Yes, it’s all one word.) I may not have survived my junior year without Mr. Yorn’s Day I Forgot (“Turn of the Century” was my favorite). But seriously, if I ever meet Pete Yorn, I might actually thank him. I’m not going to attempt to explain that here. Moving along… There were a host of other albums I listened to a lot. Brushfire Fairytales era Jack Johnson. For a while during my sophomore year, it was Coldplay – Parachutes and Rush of Blood to the Head. December 2002. My key track was “Trouble.” In fact, I have a clear memory of the ceiling in the house of a friend whom I was visiting that month. Everyone else was asleep around me. I turned that song on my headphones, probably on repeat, maybe until the battery died (I’m infamous for playing the same song for hours at a time until I get whatever it is that’s bugging me out of my system), and stared around for a while. These days I still listen to all of that, plus some. If you’ve talked to me about music for more than thirty seconds, you’ve probably heard me talk about this guy Butch Walker. He is my favorite, but not all of his music is relaxing, so I take the stuff that is (the albums Letters [all-time favorite] and Sycamore Meadows are pretty mellow, as is much of his new release, I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart). A new middle-of-the-night favorite of mine is Cary Brothers. His album Who You Are is so mellow (I’m a big fan of singer/songwriters, increasingly of the indie rock persuasion). His new album, Under Control, came out this week. That’s what I’m currently listening to. Before that, though, I was listening to a song called “Carry Me Ohio” by a band called Sun Kil Moon.

I could go on, but I won’t. It is 2:35 a.m., after all (and I am finally getting sleepy). Truth be told, I was really stretching for a post this week. I need to keep myself in practice. If anyone else shares this hobby of lying in the dark and thinking to a soundtrack of sorts (peers, siblings, friends, former students call me “emo” and I stare at them and walk away because they clearly don’t understand), I’d love to hear what you listen to.

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2 thoughts on “Enjoy the Silence

  1. Your title caught my attention. I was a huge Depeche Mode fan in my high school and college days. Your post made me think about my own music listening habits. I tend to get “stuck” on one song too. When I find I song that speaks to me, I just play it over and over until I think I’ve fully heard the message. “If Everyone Cared” by Nickelback was one of those songs for me. Your post made me realize that this is a habit I have had for years. I remember having a Chicago cassette in high school that I wore completely out because I would play a song on one side and then turn it over to play the song on the opposite side. Over and over again. I don’t know how I got lucky enough to have my two favorite songs opposite each other on that cassette.

    I agree with you. “good music can at least inspire a feeling or give me something to grab onto and work with.”

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed reading.

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