Over the past year, my taste in music has evolved from the Rock & Roll my parents teethed me on. There's still a lot of love in my heart for AC/DC and Zeppelin, but man, give me some fingerplucked guitars and soft poetry, and I'm in heaven.
The love affair started with a month of nothing but Hozier in the snowy northeastern winter, something to help roll the wheels of my beat-up '89 Honda Civic to school, something to fall in and out of relationships to. Hozier tells stories through his songs, mournful and multilayered tales that transcend a linear concept of love. It's something living, something pure and bittersweet and catching.
A few months later, I overheard a song in a tea shop that set me off on a new tangent. If you’re interested in indie folk, you’ve probably heard of Gregory Alan Isakov -- and if you haven’t, here’s your cue to plug your headphones in and pull up YouTube. “The Stable Song” is the first song I've ever heard that took my breath away. It's poetry through and through, and it never quite says what it wants you to understand. It's an artful form of melancholy that both soothes and fans my homesickness for a place I’ve never been, and it’s unwoven my stress many a late night. Beyond anything, though, “The Stable Song” renewed my faith in the lyricism that I’d lost in my music, and these two lines in particular:
now i’ve been crazy couldn’t you tell
i threw stones at the stars, but the whole sky fell.
Something had stepped out of my reach the day I realized music was an industry, and that industries are made to make money above anything else. It was always this question, with every song that came on the radio - is this a feeling or a sales pitch? Discovering the indies reminded me that music is an art form, even if it comes in the two-lines-repeated-for-three-minutes-straight variety. It’s what you need in the moment, what your friends have in their hands, what your family has in the car. We find the poetry that follows the same rhythm as our heartbeats, and we fall in love with the words that we can memorize and stylize on the way to class. Some days, it’s Barns Courtney; some, it’s Big Sean; others, you can find me bouncing back and forth between Lord of the Rings scores and the Eagles. There’s a whole universe of sound out there that you can wield throughout your day to day to compose the kind of soundtrack you wouldn’t mind being remembered with. Draw from the classics, the popular, the path less traveled. Throw your own beats into the ring, tell your own story. It’s all music, in the end; and that’s what matters.
and i ran back to that hollow again
the moon was just a sliver back then
and i ached for my heart like some tin man
when it came oh it beat and it boiled and it rang...it’s ringing
ring like crazy, ring like hell
turn me back into that wild haired gale
ring like silver, ring like gold
turn these diamonds straight back into coal
turn these diamonds straight back into coal.
Written by Kristen Hickey ('20)
R2: The Rice Review
Rice University's undergraduate literary magazine. Here you can find event updates, monthly writing contest winners, and opinions by the R2 staff on what's new, interesting, or subject to discussion in the literary and arts world.