Lost in Stereo

The biggest complaint my past roommates have had about me is that I listen to music from the moment I open my eyes in the morning to the second I close them at night. For me, music is inseparable from my emotions and memories. I turn to music when I’m writing because music is my scrapbook. My memories and feelings are documented in the music I was listening to when I felt a certain way or something important happened. Because I listen to so much music, it’s difficult to name specific songs that have resulted in poems without going far beyond 300 words. However, I will name a couple that contributed to the last poem I wrote. That poem, “Museum,” was inspired by nostalgia, so these songs are all ones I listened to when I was younger. “Up Up and Away” by Romance on a Rocketship, “The Pursuit of Happiness” by Kid CuDi, “Say My Name” by ODESZA and Zyra, “Hello, Brooklyn” by All Time Low, “Fall for You” by Secondhand Serenade, and “I Miss You” by Blink-182 are a few of the songs that make me feel the emotion I’m trying to convey in “Museum.” Music doesn’t just inspire the content of my poems either. I care more about the sound of my poems than their appearance. The sound my poetry makes is also inspired by music. Recently I’ve been interested in awkward cadences. Two songs that show this are “Daphne Blue” by The Band CAMINO and “Nicknames” by Dayglow. These songs create tension in the way that singer pauses in the middle of sentences, and that tension is resolved in the chorus. This particular sound is something I’d like to explore in poetry.

3 Replies to “Lost in Stereo”

  1. You mentioned that you had been looking at awkward cadences as a source for inspiration- one song I know that has a tense/awkward cadence is A Handsome Stranger Called Death, by FOE. About halfway through the song, FOE’s tone rises as a normal singing voice, but drops to a flat monotone before switching back and forth on-and-off certain lyrics. The jarring cadence switch there is something I think you’d be interested in, it almost oscillates between high and low before crashing towards the end, but keeps a consistent rhythm despite that.
    Another song that has a similarly very awkward cadence I think you’d be interested in is Son Lux’s Alternate World. The song opens with a very high, whispery, melodic chorus, that drops very quickly to a low, flat singing that almost sounds like spoken word poetry. The background instruments drop too, before slowly picking back up and then ramping up to a tense crescendo just to fall, and rise, and fall again. It’s incredibly jarring, very tense, there are stark jumps and drops in energy that rip you out of comfort, but I think it could be what you’re looking for.
    Also, you mentioned nostalgia as a large factor in your writing- I would highly recommend Hieu Minh Nguyen’s 2018 collection Not Here. It does look back on Nguyen’s childhood in Minnesota, but many of the memories have an sharp undercurrent, a bite to them that gives them facets and layers beyond just nostalgia. It ends up being incredibly heavy, but I recommend it because that sense of nostalgia is intermingled with multifaceted despair all through a thread of potent symbolism that you may or may not find inspiring, I’m not sure.

  2. Seeing that music is such a powerful source for you, I’ve compiled a list of artists/songs that I think might inspire your poetry:
    -Kid Cudi; you already mentioned him above, but I would suggest listening to his joint album with Kanye West, KIDS SEE GHOST, as well as the songs “Wounds”, “Rose Golden”, “GHOST!”, & “Baptized in Fire”
    -Joyce Manor; their music is similar to the pop punk you have above (All Time Low, Blink 182) & also very emotional, which might help with channeling into specific emotions (songs “Constant Headache”, “Falling In Love Again”, “Last You Heard Of Me”, “Do You Really Want To Not Get Better?”)
    -Day Wave; their music is similar to Dayglow; very postive, relaxed vibe (songs “Drag”, “Untitled”, “You”)

  3. Great suggestions, Jenna and Nick! Hannah, music is a great thing for you to harness. Kevin Young’s book of poems Jelly Roll: A Blues, the poetry of Terrance Hayes, and Nate Marshall’s Wild Hundreds would all be interesting places to go in terms of seeing how others use music.

    I’m really interested in this “awkward cadences” idea and encourage you to explore it further. Wilfred Owen used half-rhyme, like “moon” and “moan” or “gaze” and “gauze” as ways to get a discordant, minor sound in his war poems…I wonder if that technique might be of use to you?

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