“Suppose you loved music more than anything else,” writes Michael A. Singer in a chapter called “Contemplating Death” in The Untethered Soul. I don’t love music more than anything else, but I’d be pretty sad if I had to live without it. My husband B and I always have music playing. Pick an artist, any artist. There’s obscure ones with odd names: Chickasaw Mudd Puppies, Tuff Darts, Moon Martin. And then popular ones with odd names that we no longer think of as odd: Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd.
“You always wanted to hear your favorite classical composition played by your favorite orchestra,” Singer goes on. Do you like classical music? My artist friend Deb sometimes listens to classical music while painting because it helps her transcend time and space. Contemplate other realms. Honestly, I only listen to it by mistake. Like when I was driving my sister’s car because she’d borrowed my big tank to transport her family to Florida. There it was on CBC Radio 2 100.5. Listening to Overture to Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart can have you fantasizing about being plucked from travelling fast down a paved 21st century road to sitting calmly in an 18th century ballroom in Vienna.
“That was the dream of your life,” says Singer. A dream of music. Getting lost in notes. Being surrounded by quality sound. “Finally, it happens. You’re there and you’re actually hearing it. It completely fills you.”
What is the dream of your life? Music? Dance? Art? Sports? Movies? Plays? Do you think of this when you’re attending an event you love? Or are you on your phone? Distracted? Or talking? Or drinking too much instead of fully drinking in the essence of the sights and sounds before you?
I tried to heed Singer’s words earlier this week when I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Brit Floyd, billed as “The World’s Greatest Pink Floyd Tribute Show”, at the RBC Theatre at Budweiser Gardens in The Other London. The Dark Side of the Moon – which has sold over 50 million copies and is considered one of the best-selling albums worldwide – was my first vinyl album. My bestie gave it to me the year it was released, 1973, for my 15th birthday. An album cost about $4.97 then, so it was a huge expense and I was astounded at the extravagance. I guess I listened to it a lot. Perhaps it’s in my DNA now? As Brit Floyd played quality opening notes for the various songs, I was swept away.
“The very first notes lift you to where you needed to go,” Singer continues. “This shows you that it only takes a moment to become absorbed in a transcendental place.”
A Brit Floyd concert, like the band they emulate, is an experience. “Mr. Screen”, a large circular projection panel, first used by Pink Floyd for The Dark Side of the Moon tour in 1974, is there, displaying random images, making you contemplate perception. Flowers bloom. An eagle takes flight. A droplet of water creates a circle of water droplets. I wondered this: with so many round objects in existence, why are TV screens rectangular?
The very first notes that lifted me to where I needed to go? The sixth song in. Us and Them. It’s like an old friend, this one. A more memorable listen isn’t from my album though, because, after all, at 15, it wasn’t often that I could takeover the only turntable, smack-dab in the middle of the house. It was after midnight, New Year’s Day, 1974. I was babysitting down the street and, finally, the four brats were asleep. I snuggled onto the couch, hoping the parents wouldn’t be home for hours because, now, I was making some serious coin. This might put my savings up to $16.95, the cost of a pair of Levi’s. They had a decent stereo on which I picked up CHLO 1570 out of St. Thomas. No FM back then. No. And what was playing? Us and Them. Seven minutes and 51 seconds of pure heaven. I lay there, head in the speaker, mesmerized. Hanging off of every sound. Back then, I knew I would not hear it again for a long time.
Did I ever expect to experience this song live? No. Well, maybe when pigs fly, and I did eventually see a giant one bopping high, stage right. So, I sat, ignoring all audience sounds and activity, to be in rapture. To fully enjoy a complete musical treat.
Later, when Ola Bienkowska did all of that moaning for The Great Gig in the Sky, I marveled at how I knew every note. Not one word was spoken, but so much was expressed. When we all jumped to our feet to applaud her at the end, I noticed I had tears in my eyes.
Says Singer, “You really don’t need more time before death; what you need is more depth of experience during the time you’re given.”
Photo credit David Noel.