Do you have a love for something that has accompanied you through all stages of your life so far? Maybe books or arts? Maybe a passion for a certain TV show? If there is anything that has been a constant companion since childhood, it would be music and books for me. I can even say my love for music came before my love for books and writing. Even though my family is not particularly musical, music was always around. Apparently, I was ‘singing’ nursery rhymes and Christmas carols in baby-language before I could talk – and rumours have it, my parents still keep an audio tape of this. I hope they’re hiding it well…
In case you are a music-addict just like me – can you remember the first band or artist that made you fall in love with music? That made you realise it is – or at least can be – more than just a succession of notes that happen to sound pleasing to the ear?
My eyeopener – or maybe better heart opener – was Queen. I remember being around nine years old and watching MTV, despite not understanding a word. On came a song called “I’m going slightly mad”. You’ve probably seen the video, but for those who haven’t – ‘plain crazy’ might the best way to describe it. There’s Freddie Mercury dressed up as some Mad Hatter-lookalike, a man in a gorilla suit and teapot hat, just to name a few things… all in all, everything it needed to grab the attention of my nine year old self.
Even though this might not be one of Queen’s catchiest tunes and it was only years later that I got to understand all of the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, it made me – attentive? It made the nine year old child laugh, of course, but looking back on it I believe this was the first time I realised there’s more behind music than notes. There’s art. It made me think about the song. And it made me want to listen to more of this ‘funny’ band. So my brother, who’s ten years older and probably thought it was cool to have a ‘baby’ sister listening to a band like Queen, bought me their Greatest Hits album and I kept my eyes open for more videos – mostly because I was hoping for more foolish nonsense like ‘I’m going slightly mad’. But then a few months later Queen released ‘These are the days of our lives’. I had no idea this would be the last video ever of Freddie Mercury, I knew nothing of his illness and I did not understand a word of the lyrics. But it made me cry. I remember sitting in front of the TV thinking: “This is so beautiful!” and feeling a little ashamed because, well, there was no reason to cry, was there? Why was I crying ‘only’ because of a song? I did not understand back then but I think that was when music truly hit me, grabbed me and never let go of me again.
Since then, I’ve experienced this overwhelming sense of amazement and beauty a few more times with other artists. There was Radiohead in my teens – they’ve been like a second musical revelation for me. Then there were the eerie floating sounds of Sigur Rós in my twenties and more recently, the fragile strength and power of Mugison’s bluesy tunes and Pétur Ben’s soul-crushingly beautiful melodies and a guitar play that seems out of this world to me. Newest to my list of inspirations is Finnish singer Mikko Joensuu whose voice and melodies seem to bypass my ears and go directly into my heart. I could name a lot more but these must be most forceful ones, every one of them had or has an impact on my personal life, my writing or me making music. But that’s a different story.
To sum things up I can say that I feel truly blessed that music was my first love. And with a few ups and downs and the occasional struggle now and then – I’m proud to say this love is burning hotter and brighter than ever.