The Rose feels other’s pain and tears very deeply and as my re-blogged article last week showed – being overly empathetic means it’s impossible to filter out the important stuff from the noise.
So its music that provides her release, her expression, her empathy and ultimately her calm. It’s her backdrop, the soundtrack to her life.
She favours music she can drown in. Not rock music but huge ballads or well produced songs with distinct instruments or sweet voices which tell a story … or which feel like they are. She also likes rap but that’s because she fancies almost all of the boys who sing it – so that doesn’t count.
On the whole it’s melody and words which appeal. Her taste is modern and broad but she really likes female voices. Songs with any ambiguity or aggression or changes in pitch or tone – upset her. For example she loves Lady Antebellum and ‘Just a Kiss’. It’s a mix of country folk but with a big sound backdrop, the lead singer has a great voice and the lyrics describe a song about love and longing that every 17 yr old can relate to.
But by contrast ‘Somebody that I used to know’ by Gotye ft Kimbra isn’t disliked because it’s about a break up of love – no it’s because they sing viciously and sweetly and loudly and softly. They sing soft when they seem to be cross and loud when they are happy – ALL IN ONE SONG. Wasssthataboout! Get a grip!
“Mum this is wrong – it’s creepy. I don’t trust it. Turn it off. He’s too weird”
Her ability to access songs however (thank you iTunes and YouTube) and the sheer volume of what’s available means she can work through the worst of her angst or the best of her happiness with an appropriate song she can find quickly. But once THE song of the moment is captured she will play it over and over. Back to back, no breaks, on a loop that can go on for weeks even months. Jammed into her ears until she is lost – which of course is exactly the point.
But it’s more than that. The songs help her feel connected with the rest of us. They show her how we feel. She gets it.
Books mean nothing to her, her reading is excellent– always has been, but knowing the words, is a million miles away from associating their joined up meaning. Good books and stories contain immense subtleties. They ask us to recognise the subtext and join up the unwritten stuff – leaving clues as the story develops.
The Rose reads a page as a series of words. What she reads on page 3 which may relate to page 1 may as well be in a separate book in a library on the moon. They are unrelated and absolutely boring.
So we try to bring stories into her life. Films are fantastic of course but she’s almost exclusively a cartoon geek, where emotions are clearly displayed and understood and nasty things never look too bad.
Last year we went to see a play; War Horse. It’s based on a wonderful children’s novel by Michael Morpurgo, a love story about a boy and his horse in the First World War. It’s powerful and moving and the entire family cried at various points – not The Rose however, who sat stony faced and tight lipped throughout. She knew we wanted to see the play and we’d spent a lot of money on tickets so she was doing her best to allow it to happen. She liked the puppetry enough to keep her from being rude but right near the end, when the final scene was coming and dramatic music signalled a powerful climax – she burst into tears!
As the lights went up she was howling like a banshee and totally unselfconscious. I was elated that she’d got it; the sadness of war and losing someone you love – I just hoped social services weren’t watching me smile at my sobbing daughter. I must have looked like Hannibal Lecture when he first smelled Clarice!
After when we had kissed and hugged her and she’d realised she’d let us – we went back to a friend’s house where The Rose explained to them exactly what the play had been about. She remembered what each character looked like in detail and she related the plot like she was reading a script – but she finished with:
“It was so sad.”
I loved hearing that. “It was, wasn’t it…?” I gushed like an overpaid film critic “…when the horse died and he was far from home?” My eyebrows were raised so high they were lost in my skull and my face was as excruciatingly keen as a new Mum feeding a reluctant toddler who having been tight lipped and crying in their high chair for an hour and had just opened their mouth for the first lovingly prepared spoonful.
She looked at me – irritated “NO. THAT’S NOT IT AT ALL. It was sad because the loud music pulled out my cork!
Result! It does that to me too my love. Now get me a glass and let’s enjoy the bubbles.