I think that the songs we like reveal a lot about us and in some ways our unconsciousness can have a deeper understanding of who we are than our waking self does. There are certain songs from my youth that continue to sooth me as an adult. As a whole, 80’s synthesizer music is where my musical foundation lies. Although my parents choice of music had an influence on my young self (Paul Ankara, Glen Campbell, Max Bygraves), my teenager self moved from Abba quickly to Ultravox, Depeche Mode, OMD, Soft Cell, Yazoo and many more; and there-in my heart lies.
I feel the need to acknowledge Wichita Lineman here. I love this song, particularly the lines “I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time” which seems to combine a put down with a complete declaration of love; such a neat word play. What I also find neat is that I never really understood the lyrics until I was employed at an energy distribution company and worked on some software to enable the linemen to patrol the electricity lines and record what they found. These guys are heros who will go out in really difficult weather in remote places to make sure the customers stay connected to the electricity mains. I must look into the background of the song to find out more.
I was thinking about my sensitivity to light recently (and I adjust my laptop’s brightness down to minimum) and how I can find light physically painful and certainly headache inducing. High contrast situations seem particularly hard. Whilst I love the feeling of the sun on my skin, my eyes don’t like it so much and I wonder if this is a reason why I like to wear hats (I always thought it was about expressing my individuality). There are a number of songs I like about the dark but Depeche Mode’s “Waiting for the night” is the one that pops into my head at the moment.
I’m waiting for the night to fall
I know that it will save us all
When everything’s dark
Keeps us from the stark reality
I’m waiting for the night to fall
When everything is bearable
And there in the still
All that you feel
The song’s word and music capture the peacefulness I find at night time. I find a real sense of calm when everybody else has gone to bed and the traffic stops moving along the road. I guess night time is like a warm fuzzy blanket that enfolds my senses. I particularly enjoy walking along streets and parks with my dog where there is nobody else about, no cars, no traffic of any sort; even the wind tends to disappear at night. Wondering through the park lit only by starlight is probably my favorite though. I can spend ages looking up into the sky trying to identify constellations and planets, I guess it gives me a freedom from any claustrophic reactions I might have but also shows how completely insignificant we are in terms of the universe.
One of my other tricks is to walk around the house without any lights turned off. Yes I know that’s not hard during daylight hours but I am talking about it being dark. To me people have an obsession with light at nighttime. A few years ago, our street lamps were changed from Sodium Vapour bulbs to LED bulbs, and people complained that it was difficult to see whilst driving along the road. I thought this was nonsense since I observed that most light comes from the car’s headlights as we drive and it make sense for the council to reduce its energy bills in my book. My take was that it was the perdestrians who had some cause for complaint but I didn’t think it counted for much. I was happy with the resulting reduction of light polution in our street, as I am sure any other star watcher would be too.
Security lights are my other bugbear when it comes to nighttime. I wonder if they provide any additional security in reality (cats are far more likely to set them off than a burglar) and they are in general, completely overpowered for the job they do. It doesn’t help that I find them painful fullstop, let alone the way they destroy any dark sky adaptation of my eyes.
Anyway I feel I wondered off course again; back to the song. If you listen to the complete song, you will hear a verse which refers to somebody coming to harm. I think it is the contrast of the peace darkness brings with the violence that can happen that makes this song insightful. For some the dark brings terror (it certainly did when I was very young, particular after the Friday night BBC 2 late night horror double bill my brother watched when our parents were out) but now as an adult, the night is a time of comfort and reflection. Well that is until I walk into the corner of our bedframe and blood pours out of the gash from the indentation I’ve just made whilst I try to stifle a yell and not wake my wife.