Pen Pal.

A shitbeat taken from a letter to my father. We had a short-lived relationship as pen pals recently, the topic of this one was music.

Dear Dad,

There are a few directions I can go with this topic, I think. Music in what aspect? Listening to it? Singing? Dancing? Writing music? I love music. It does so many things in my brain, it’s emotional, instinctual, intellectual and physical at the same time. There is an ostensibly limitless combination of sounds and words and rhythms, histories and purposes with song. And each is unique in the way it affects the listener. There is no part of my human experience that the waves don’t touch.

When people ask me what my favorite band is, I usually say, the band that probably influenced me the most as a person is Radiohead. The first album I ever bought, when I was 10 or 11, was OK Computer because I liked the cover art and I liked the name Radiohead. I didn’t enjoy it at first, but it was the only CD I had so I kept listening. Like growing worms gnawing a decayed log, the syncopation, the pitiful-sounding lyrics, and the slightly sour harmonies crept into my little child’s brain and made their home in it. For a time, it was just about all I could listen to. All other music seemed frivolous. I don’t think I met another person who liked that album or knew Radiohead for the next ten years. In fact, I remember using the computers in my high school’s library during play practice to post on Radiohead message boards to feel some fellowship. One time, a poster asked how old I was and I said fourteen. He went on this rant of, “oh, great, now all the dumb kids are into Radiohead. There must have been a recent article in <insert pop music/lifestyle publication>.” But I replied in a mature and thoughtful way and all the other posters sided with mr. They said I was a really cool fourteen-year-old.

How validating.

My ensuing journey through each album they put out—Amnesiac, Kid A, Hail To The Thief, and In Rainbows being the main ones—was therefore always a solo one. Add to that the fact that the music itself is not even angst-ridden but often anxiety-ridden, to the fact of my youth being already kind of an anxious, angry, and insecure affair, and you get a clear picture of lonely little me as a teenager. I sometimes wonder how much of my feelings of isolation might have been because of my musical tastes. Music really affects the way I feel, which I now of course realize. I would never, for example, listen to A Perfect Circle before a first date. I would be weird and uncharming.

-topic shift-

The closest thing I have in my life to religious sentiment is music and dance. There is something about the way music is internally experienced that is so very personal and evocative, it touches a part of me that nothing else can. It makes me move, and that’s the sweetest feeling in the world. Being in synch with floating notes and wavering vibrations is meditative and beautiful. It’s like they get inside of you and have to work their way out through your fingers and toes and sternum.

I remember once you said that your personal proof that there is a God is through the beauty of music. I understand that. Sometimes I can hardly breathe from it.

And I have to tell you, though maybe you don’t want to hear it, papa, that the best amplifier for that feeling is LSD. Truly, a lot of drugs make music better. MDMA is great for dancing, marijuana is great for almost everything. But LSD flips the experience of life on its head, dissolves all that you think you know. It feels like being reborn as an infant or even as a floating nothing. I don’t use it much—wouldn’t want to use it much—but I did last weekend with two friends of mine and we simply melted together and separately to the most beautiful symphony of sounds. I can’t begin to describe the depths of the experience, the things one sees and feels in a way that just doesn’t exist outside of that drug-induced sensory state. I thought I was in so many different places, floating above them and living inside of them. I thought I was a vibration, a discreet wavelength or even a being with wave/particle duality. I forgot I existed each time I let go one little exhale further into the music. I cried at the crackling peaceful sound of a vinyl record, I strained every muscle in my body against the weight of it. It was all I could do not to implode.

Love,

Panda

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