This I believe. Sitting in the dark, having woken in the dark when it seems no living soul walks the Earth, I reflect. I sip my tea, hot Darjeeling, trying to figure out why I can't taste it like I used to. It's half between the familiar bite and a pure sensation of hot wetness on my tongue. I heard a song tonight, and it's stuck in my head. It's infected my mood. A catchy pop melody, but a depressing message that anyone can relate to. A woman with a soothing voice offering half-solace, her words carrying the true futility of the notion. I fade back to other nights like this, swallowed by the quiet dark, hearing catchy tunes that leave me feeling hollow.
The title of this, while it seemed poetic enough to me at first, may not be entirely accurate. Maybe this is the power of music. Robin Pecknold believes that music is the last bit of magic and mystery in a world that has largely been mapped out by science and reason. It is our holdover from the superstitious world of the peasants. I don't believe that mystery is lost, myself. But we ignore it. The feeling this music gives me is one I tend to try to ignore. Music throws things right in your face. If you've ignored feeling broken, there will be a song to shatter you. If you wear your gloom like a badge then an upbeat tune will find you and burrow into your brain until you catch yourself singing Shonen Knife at full volume among friends. I could fall off on a diatribe here, claim that the true evil of commercial music is that it does not attempt to inspire or reveal any such emotions, but who am I to say that? It is a mystery what song will shake you, and when and why. Maybe it is fate that guides songs to us, sets just the right melody in our path at just the right time. Like the jukebox in Shaun of the Dead.
Music has far too many powers to ever list exhaustively. Even in the course of two paragraphs, it became clear that one of those was synchronicity. Besides this, there is the power that Pecknold spoke of. I think he was referring to the way a song's impact exceeds simply its words. Even though there are physical phenomena behind notes, and even though many things make noise, tunes seem to exist in an Other World. The referents of words are sometimes concrete, things you can hold in your hand or at least touch or at least look at. Notes refer to things that are immaterial. To top that off, one instrument's melody alone is rarely enough, and rarely employed in a song. We have layers upon layers of harmony, meaning after meaning that cannot be touched, yet can be somehow understood. The tune shapes the sense of the words, and vice versa. If any single part is off, the song will suffer. When the gestalt is perfect, there is maybe nothing on this Earth with the same power.