The Instrument of Creation

I’ve been through the wringer this week. I don’t quite know what to do with it all, so I am going to write about it here. This post has nothing to do with social media or marketing, but everything to do with music.

Tuesday, I found out  that someone I had once loved deeply had suddenly died. Wednesday, I attended his memorial, burial and reception. Twelve years after we last saw each other, I was embraced again by his family and close friends. It is Saturday, and I am still struck bolt awake every morning, the knife edge of sudden, painful realization again in my chest. People around me are mystified by my devastation.

He left a wife of ten years and two children under the age of 10. At 38, his death took everyone by surprise. He was so well loved and respected, several hundred people attended the service, with only a few days notice over the long holiday weekend. He and I had not seen each other in almost three years, and I would never even have known he had passed away if a mutual business acquaintance had not emailed me the news.

One conclusion I have reached is that for me, music is the only thing that truly gives expression to thoughts and feelings that are simply unbearable. But for that gift, the gift of being able to write and listen to music, I would not be here.

In the five long days since I heard the news of his death, I have moved through so many emotions it is difficult to to catalogue them. I have cried, I have raged, and I have rationalized. One conclusion I have reached, however, is that for me, music is the only thing that truly gives expression to thoughts and feelings that are simply unbearable. But for that gift, the gift of being able to write and listen to music, I would not be here myself. Struck silent in a world in which I often feel the trespasser, I sometimes feel surrounded by only people who speak a different language. The sharp pain of my own silence on matters of the heart too much to bear, I would have fallen many times over into the abyss of unspeakable words, but for music. It is my mother tongue.

I don’t know the nature of his pain, but I know he could not articulate it to anyone in that crowd of grieving friends and family. A man creative and persistent enough to have patented a technical computing solution while still in his early twenties could not find another way to solve the problems inside his own head. Or, perhaps he decided to experiment empirically with the metaphysical questions of life and death. I don’t know.

All I know is that there is a song I began listening to again three weeks ago. It’s an older song, written by an Italian singer and European rock star named Zucchero. I don’t know why, but it popped into my head, and I hunted it down on iTunes, having long ago stashed the original CD in some closet. He gave me that CD thirteen years ago. It was his way of singing me love songs, with another man’s voice, I think. For some reason, I took to listening to one song in the car, over and over, nostalgia and melancholy filling me. I knew I should stop, but I couldn’t. I never thought to call him, it was not something to share. We lived in different worlds. Although only miles from each other, our distance had been measured repeatedly and seemed permanent. The song remained so persistently with me, however, that, finally, at the suggestion of a (Twitter – there’s the social media connection!) acquaintance, I decided to try and cover it – to sing it myself.

The song carries much emotion, and it took weeks to map out an arrangement, because my current partner (and producer) was also overwhelmed by the emotion of the song at first. We just finished the first draft this past weekend.

The song is now both solace and expression for me. It is an inexplicable, unspoken message from someone I loved, through a medium we had once shared. It is inextricably stamped with the twin wax seals of love and death. It is an act of creation from an act of destruction. It is, more than anything else, the articulation of profound emotions that I cannot otherwise express: Menta e Rosmarino.

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