I'm Not a Princess
I had met a friend for lunch at Panera Bread one day in the middle of the week (their bread is so good!), and afterwards we browsed an accessories shop, where I bought a silver headband that looked elven, and a sparkly silver comb for my hair. Driving back, in the spring sun, I felt very full and satisfied. I try not to always have music on in my car. In fact, sometimes I’ll flick off the radio while driving, in the name of unadulterated reality, and then let the woods whooshing by, and the lake, and the salt-white road assault me instead. Pure world; without the extra stimuli. I need that real world, in the way that I need bread... more than I need even poetry, or a song, or any other secondary channel of reality. For it is good to have primary contact with the earth... as much of the time as possible. Even if the world is gritty and salt-white roaded.
I actually didn't grow up constantly listening to music like most of my peers. But even though I still don't listen to a lot of music, I see the possibility of addiction... and addiction embedded deep. A covetousness of the ears, of even a disquiet soul. It seems like it can become a gluttony of a sort. Don't get me wrong; I'm susceptible to the sensuality of it as well (I don't mean to sound high-minded), and can see how extremely easy it is, and could be for me, to get pulled under the current of musical over-indulgence.
(Yes… how many times have I listened to “The Gravel Road” from “The Village” soundtrack just for the emotional thrill it gives me? Or track 17 from “The Return of the King” because it makes me feel nostalgic? Or “The Kiss” from “The Last of the Mohicans”? Lots of times?)
My main moralizing point is this: It's never good to let anything over-influence your state of mind. Your primary font of peace and answers should be another source.
However, however! I'm not decrying completely the influence of music. The other day a Josh Groban song completed in three minutes what I might not have been able to accomplish in three hours of thinking. I didn't seek the song out; I had casually put the CD on as background music for writing. But my mind had been in cobwebs; my mood slightly gloomy and perplexed. The song was not in English; I think it was Italian or Spanish. So it worked wordless. I hadn't even listen to it with any intention. But it re-ordered my soul like unforced magic: the sound of the song was enough to clear away my mind and make me feel as I should: calm, and that the world was right.
Everyone has their key "trigger-music" that makes them feel a certain way. (Irish makes me jumpy and happy, for example!) Everyone has their different temptations... And I'm saying "temptation" with a smile - like "temptation towards chocolate or vanilla" - to compliment you on your unique chemical make-up that may make you respond to, say, country or blue grass, unlike your sibling or friend would. Our hearts each have different tunes in their depths.
But I've been lately thinking about modern music, and liking it more, and giving it more... if not respect, at least more attention... nowadays. It’s so catchy, especially when you start learning the songs and getting to recognize them, like I never did when I was a teenager. I was almost 100% "out of it"; the songs I knew were probably because I heard them in a clothing store, or at a camp! (Though I had my short Backstreet Boys and N'Sync craze during those camp years, and was given their CDs as birthday gifts at thirteen... the only two CDs I owned during those years!) But it’s interesting to think of the beat of today’s modern music as the beat of the blood in the veins of people your age; and you remember good college dances; and then it’s fun. There's something about it that catches the spirit of the times. For example, there is nothing about seventies music that makes me feel excited about life. (Some eighties music makes the cut, though. I mean, I was born during that time. I had to have had the radio embedded in me even in my mother’s womb.)
I know a lot of people write-off modern music - rap, hip-hop, techno, pop, Latin, etc. - anything non-classical and non-traditional, but I think there is something to be said for it. It is important to know your current age, and - in some way - to be a part of it. Yes, some of the music is just plain bad - if not morally or against reality and truth, then at least aesthetically. Yet even some of those (the latter) songs are fun! Yes, the fall-back word to describe what you can't seem to recommend with any other reason... especially not with the name of high Truth and Beauty. You can't have those noble handmaids at your side when trying to explain your weakness for a chick flick... but you do have Fun. Like my favorite Cascada song. It's cheap musically. But it is "fun"!
I also wanted to add what you probably already have thought about: how outside stimuli can drown your thoughts in a not-so-positive way. You can lose touch with yourself and what you are feeling. It's better to tune out the music, or the t.v., or the computer, if it means you can tune into your soul better!
Thanks for listening to me, if you've made it this far. You either have a good attention span, or a kind ear. I should probably stop it here, because the rest of my thoughts driving home were random. But oh, well!
So I was driving home from lunch, enjoying the back roads. Classical had been my citadel station for a while, but I was browsing around the other ones, and stopped at country. The words had caught my attention. Well, I mean, come on. Any time I hear the word “princess” I have to stop and listen.
“I’m not a princess;
This ain’t a fairytale.
I’m not the one you sweep
Off her feet,
Lead her up a stairwell.
This ain’t Hollywood…”
I listened and felt sad, and felt like moralizing on today’s times. The singer seemed so bitter, so duped. I felt so sad when she repeated, “I should have known, I should have known, that I am not a princess…” She is a princess, I wanted to tell her. She was just not treated like one by her boyfriend. I felt like Jesus also was wanting to sing back to her,
“You are my princess;
This is our fairytale.
You are the one I sweep
Off your feet,
Lead you up a stairwell.
This isn’t Hollywood…
This is the real world…”
Not good, but it was what popped into my head. And then I wondered, “Why do people not like fairytales? Is it because they have happy endings? Maybe because they are not like life. After difficulties in a fairytale, everyone gets his just desserts, and the hero gets his desire. So maybe a fairytale is instead just a picture of eternity; some evil is not punished on earth, and some princesses won’t get their prince until heaven.”
“It’s too late for you and your white horse…” fades. I fiddled around with the station, and then landed on a song on Boston’s pop music channel that made my mouth drop. (I hadn’t heard these songs before this. You probably have.)
“I’m standing there
On a balcony is summer air.
See the lights, see the party,
The girl’s voice is soft and young and has a country twang. The imagery is startling at first, unexpected.
As the beautiful trees swept by me, driving along, I felt myself enraptured by this recent pop song. Maybe it’s a silly one, like my Cascada song (“Your arms are my castle, your heart is my sky…”) but what girl could help being captivated by the romantic longings of this song? The words express a frank, bold desire for a fairytale experience. (Oh, my gosh. I just remembered I put that in my bio. Really, I'm not that obsessed with castles.) But you wouldn’t think a popular girl in the spotlight would admit to these fairytale longings that most females have. “You’ll be the prince, and I’ll be the princess…”
I unfortunately got the feeling this was a song probably popularized by middle-school and junior high girls, but whatever. It's not romantically immature to want to be swept off your feet, at any age.
“I got tired of waiting, wondering if you were ever coming around…" The song turned sad. Great. I KNEW it.
"When I found you on the outskirts of town…”
While I was driving I suddenly found myself coming out onto a main road, on the outskirts of MY hometown - probably even over the line - on the complete opposite side of the world I meant to come out on. I had been so swept up by the song and the spring day, I must have forgotten to veer left at the important fork in the road way back! But I was close to home, anyway. I drove on. The singer’s words were sad towards her lover, despite the uppity pop beat.
“And I said,
Romeo, save me, I’ve been feeling so alone
I keep waiting
for you, but you never come.
Is this in my head? I don’t know what to think.
He kneeled to the ground and pulled out a ring,
And said, Marry me, Juliet -”
I swerved off the road. Well, nearly.
Alright, not at all. But saying, "I was surprised," doesn't give the same effect!
“Marry me, Juliet,
You never have to be alone,
I love you, and that’s all I really know.
I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress...”
I’ve never heard this ending in any modern song in my life before. After the first cynical song (actually by the same artist, Taylor Swift; but I didn’t realize that then) this was as refreshing as a flower burst.