“Music Hath Charms to Soothe a Savage Breast”

by | Aug 26, 2019 | Articles | 0 comments

So wrote William Congreve in 1697, and it’s still true today. Of course, not everyone today understands that “hath” meant “has,” or that a “savage breast” was another way of saying “wild heart.” And these days, more music is made to stimulate than to calm.

My own relationship to music is lifelong and deeply personal. I can recall, with some degree of clarity, everything from the enlivening effect of pop songs first heard at eight or nine to the uplifting hymns of my days in church as a youth. Whatever the source, the music I’ve loved has moved me, while music I dislike has brought on feelings equally intense.

I believe music, poetry and song are all intrinsically connectednot only for listeners but also for its creators. By the age of thirteen, I’d already begun writing songs and poems, and the melodies of lyrics I wrote came to me just as vividly as the words. A boy without a band, I was as likely to write a song as a poem on any given day…and there were periods where I wrote one or the other daily.

 

Is It Live Or Is It Memory?

When I hit junior high, my older brother was already in high school. It was only natural that we would want to go to rock shows, and our parents actually dropped us off at my first one, a Kiss concert in 1978. In retrospect, the sound was awful, distorted by a ridiculously high volume that should have gotten any respectable sound man fired. But it was all part of the spectacle, and Kiss, however cartoonish their image and limited their musicianship, could deliver quite an audiovisual assault at the height of their powers. I was young enough to be appropriately blown away.

That began a lifelong willingness to trek to shows that led to an abundance of memoriesnot to mention a pretty decent case of tinnitus.

Just as live shows became an obsession—from small local acts like the folky Nields to international superstars like Sir Paul McCartney—so did my desire to collect music. Like the guy in the old Memorex ads, I spent many an hour in front of home speakers with the volume cranked up. I think there’s a chemical change in the body when it’s bombarded with sound, and I enjoyed many moments thus engaged.

 

But Then One Grows Up…

Ultimately, as I grew from adolescence to adulthood, my tastes changed and widened. I’ve grown from a little rocker dude into a music aficionado with wide-ranging tastes. I enjoy jazz, ambient, and experimental music in addition to the classic rock, blues, and folk that served as the soundtrack to my teenage and young adult years.

Music plays a role in many aspects of my life to this day. My deep connection to the words and music of Phil Ochs influenced my most recent novel, Whizzers, and I spend most days at my desk with music playing on the iMac while I work. The CD and record collecting hobby has mostly transitioned to files, though I still like to pop in the occasional CD while driving in order to enjoy a better experience than mp3 files can provide.

And I think music ties in closely to the last couple weeks’ worth of blog posts. The themes of spirituality and metaphysics run through many of the songs I still enjoy, and in my own work as well. In the words of Frank Zappa, “Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.”

interregnum

What To Expect From An Interregnum

I had a very strange, little-used word pop into my head the other day: interregnum.  Cambridge English defines interregnum as "a period when a country or organization does not have a leader." That certainly seems to apply at this moment. Merriam-Webster's definition:...
mask

COVID-19, Discipline, and an Uncomfortable Freedom

Last week, my wife and I did something we hadn’t done since March of 2020: we walked into a supermarket without wearing masks. This might not seem radical, but a word of explanation is in order here. My mother, who turns 86 this coming May, lives up the road from us...
technophobe

The Technophobe Part 2: Why I Wish I Was Better At Some Of This Stuff

The last few weeks have been all about pros and cons. In June, I wrote several blog posts about my biggest strengths, and now I’m writing about some of my greatest challenges. So the two categories are, roughly, “Stuff I’m Good At” and “Stuff I Wish I Was Better At.”...
holidays

Happy Holidays from Mike Sahno – Author, Speaker, Publisher

I suppose I’m courting controversy right out of the gate just by using the phrase Happy Holidays. I get that. But I’m also pretty sure it won’t upset most of my readers! My wife Sunny and I would like to wish a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Solstice, Kwanzaa,...
travel

Travel Feeds the Soul

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." - Lao Tzu I wish I could say I've always loved to travel. Maybe I'm good at being in a different place; the getting there is sometimes a whole other story. Traveling to a foreign locale can be...
followers

From The Archives: Frances Caballo on Why You Should Never Buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes

I don't often feature guest posts on my blog, but today's post from the archives was an exception. Back in 2018, social media guru Frances Caballo graciously accepted my invitation to write a guest post. Here's a link to the the original post, but you can read her...
newsletter

Got Those Old Indie Author Newsletter Blues

It’s Monday again, and that means it’s time for my weekly blog post. Today I’m going to talk a bit about newsletters—more specifically, the kind of newsletter an indie author like myself sends to his readers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, an...
drivers

Florida Drivers, Beware

This weekend I had to run out for essentials, which I’m only doing when absolutely necessary. But it seems like plenty of other people were out there, too, and I can’t help believing some of them just didn’t want to be bored at home. So when it came time for me to get...

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones and Storytelling

Writing is a funny game. You make stuff up and it goes from your head to your fingers, then to a screen via keyboard, or a page via writing implement. But of course, we all know that's not the oldest way of telling stories. Really, stories began with cave drawings and...
self-promotion

What’s The Problem With Shameless Self-Promotion?

While I still find it somewhat hard to believe, I've been on Twitter for almost eight years. I know this not only because Twitter shows Joined March 2015 on my profile but also because, even if they eliminate that feature, I use a tracker called Who Unfollowed Me? If...
MLK

MLK Day 2023

Here’s wishing everyone a safe, sane Martin Luther King Jr. Day. For many of us, today is always something of a day of mourning: not only mourning the loss of a great civil rights leader, but also mourning the turn our great nation seemed to take in recent years....

Twitter Tips for Authors in 2023

If you follow my blog, you probably connected with me via Twitter, whether you’re a fellow author or not. In 2020, I wrote a post about Twitter for fellow writers that got a good response. Three years later, the landscape has changed, but some Twitter best practices...
rails

Going Off The Rails (But Not On A Crazy Train)

Last April, I wrote a blog post called Back on Track With a Work-In-Progress. Part of that post was to talk about the difference between a “plotter” and a “pantser” (and to describe myself as a hybrid of the two, a “plantser”). Another, less obvious motive, was to...
French

Those Tricky French Authors and Their Obsessions

Today’s blog post was originally going to be Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. III. However, after seeing parts I and II lined up, I decided to call an audible and make it something less repetitive. Somehow the SEO gods have gotten into my head. As I’ve mentioned...
scared

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want, Pt. II

In last week’s post, I mentioned a pretty well-known author who has publicly reported his publisher “wouldn’t touch” a new release, in part because a character in his novel referred to herself as “fat.” I heard this story on a podcast, and I remember thinking, “Wait...
censorship

Write Whatever the @#$% You Want

I’ve been stewing on this for a while. It’s been brewing for quite a while. I could probably write a song about it (how about a rap?), but I don’t think I will. This is more of a blog post topic, and it might even deserve a series. And that’s the title and topic of...
gratitude

Should Every Month Be Gratitude Month?

When I was a kid, I loved Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. I read it daily and collected nearly every paperback volume of the cartoon, so I could see what I’d missed since the comic strip’s inception in 1950.  Certain things stuck: quotes like “happiness is a warm puppy”...
robot

More Thoughts On Robot Writers and The Tech Dystopia

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post here called When Will the Robot Overlords Replace Us? Apparently, I’m fairly obsessed with this stuff, because every time I come here and empty my brain, it seems to come up again. Today is no different. Part of the reason,...