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  • Andre Lamartin

Reflections on Music, Love & Life

Legendary artists never outlive their music as timeless songs never die. They stay alive in our hearts, minds and souls long after musicians have gone about their way. As a true testament to the staying power of music, countless memories of a precious life once lived still remain inextricably welded to so many heartfelt songs still being played. Though much has changed in my life since by music first enticed, my sincere love for it has yet to abate, or gently subside. As a man mindful of his personal history strives never to disrespect the past, the time has come to honor music whose heartfelt significance is bound to forever last.

Although the inexorable passage of violent years so often conspired against this passion, my relationship with music has always been a love affair transcending time itself. Never was I one to complain of disquieting solitude while accompanied by great music. The effusive joy so many timeless songs brought into my life first taught me to search within myself for a peace never so easily found outside. Before embracing the company of significant others, music always taught me to first enjoy life by own self. Always offering companionship in times of trouble, music inspired me to overcome the many hardships of life, awakening my mind to the world around me, while opening my heart to feelings that first defied any rational explanation.

Music released my imagination to consider a life that was closely related to the inspirational songs of choice, sometimes having to overcome many of the same existential plateaus, and emotional problems so aptly described in the songs still passionately being played. Beautifully capturing and encapsulating so many of the existential longings that transcend generations is what made these songs truly timeless. The tragedy of never meeting your true love, amid the vast expanse of this endless universe, only leads one to wonder whether the depths of infinity can really be contained within a single, solitary, musical heart. Finding a melody to lead the way, and a harmony to follow, the heartbeat of life held sway over a rhythm filling a spirit occasionally so drained and hollow.

Offering a second pulsating heartbeat to the many vibrant stages of life, music helped me to enliven my spirit despite the many disquieting challenges of daily strife. When carefully interpreted by well discerning ears, music alleviated an existential burden never to be borne alone even despite the passing of troubled years. Bearing a powerful spiritual significance, a plethora of timeless songs inspired me to consider how the troubles of daily life and the vagaries of interpersonal relationships directly affected my emotional wellbeing. While surveying the vast landscape of my emotional life, soulfully listening to music always implied ardently indulging my own most heartfelt emotions, descrying how they applied both to the world around me and to my rich inner life. Feelings so deeply enduring left such an indelible mark on my memory not even time itself could ever silently efface the most ineradicable of heartfelt emotions.

Never relegating the hope that better days were soon bound to come, music always inspired me to strive for a brighter future, one far more welcoming than the past. Even when enshrouded by all-surrounding pitchblack darkness, the inspirational songs of choice only impelled me to shine always so indomitably brighter, allowing hope to pave the way of better days soon to come. This valiant embrace of the bright side of life was only made possible by all the vibrant joy and effulgent beauty music so blissfully brought into my life. Even amid the most challenging of circumstances, music always inspired me to overcome all emotional problems and spiritual trials while striving for better days. This epic quest for a more auspicious tomorrow required a stalwart sense of hope only made stronger and more resilient by the appropriate choice in music. The heart would certainly have its fair share of objections to raise against those so deeply ingrained in the life of the mind that the body and soul are only compelled to suffer.

Despite the myriad benefits of leading a quiet and contemplative life, the most pressing existential issues of the day were never simply addressed with intelligent conversation and silent reflection alone. Only a callous heart would ever deny the galvanizing power of music to electrify the soul, inspiring a true music lover to value and enjoy only the very best there is in life. Considerably more than an exhilarating and heartfelt source of international entertainment, sensitively insightful music always inspired me to divine, assay and fathom my emotional life in an intimately transformative way. Based on a principled sense of maturity, vicariously honed through an artistic form of self-enlightment, the appreciation of deeply insightful music helped me acquire an emotionally sensitive existential view of both love and life itself.

While enjoying and interpreting timeless songs, music empowered me to have a much more comprehensive understanding of the myriad existential issues pertaining not only to my own life, but also to the lives of countless others just as well. In this hectic and troubled world of ours, artists who inspiredly shared their life experiences through music always had much to teach all those who so humbly cared to listen, interpret and learn. Always aesthetically pleasing and emotionally mesmerizing, the instrumental beauty of countless songs only captivated my attention to the soulful, thought provoking and heartfelt lyrical messages artistically conveyed. Sensitively insightful music provided both an emotional and spiritual education that so deeply edified my own personal understanding of both love and life itself. Imparting an emotional sensitivity and existential self-awareness never so wilfully abnegated, many were the life lessons music always had to teach.

Even with the passing of the most turbulent years, music bequeathed me an inestimable artistic legacy, always lavishly rich in aesthetic beauty and existential meaning, destined only to be soulfully cherished and never so wantonly debased or wilfully forgotten. When confronted with my own personal life experience, there was a lot music had to inspire, teach and say. As alluded to earlier, musically crafted emotions that so closely related to my own world influenced my life in no small way. Of the many lessons music has so profoundly imparted regarding life itself, a better understanding of how my feelings related to the world around me is most certainly one, especially when taking into account my most deeply rooted spiritual values, rich life experiences and accompanying religious beliefs. Valuing and honing the sagacity of this emotional understanding requires a religious sensitivity profound enough never to be disdainfully disparaged or cavalierly dismissed.

All due synesthesia notwithstanding, if beauty truly lies in the eyes of the beholder, what one takes away from any given song is always directly proportional to all one sensitively brings to it in the first place. The sensitive and insightful legacy music so lovingly bequeathed me can only be wholeheartedly appreciated if first sincerely interpreted, spiritually felt and heartfully embraced. This is where religion comes into play, filtering the music listened to through my most sacrosanct values and spiritual beliefs. It is through religion that moral values are applied to our music of choice, enabling us to appreciate its artistic beauty without compromising our own spiritual standing in life. Religion provides the safety net that allows us to enjoy music without necessarily seeking to embrace and emulate whatever darkness may be wilfully or inadvertently conveyed by any given song.

When culture is refracted through the prism of my Christian religious beliefs, music can only be said to positively affect my own personal behavior and emotional wellbeing, never fomenting unnecessary violence, emotional consternation or spiritual aggravation. Throughout the most emotionally taxing of spiritual trials, even when enveloped by the blinding darkness of a disconsolate night, music has always been an illuminating source of light. Incandescently destined only to shine brighter, music always instilled in me the valiant hope that every new dawn would bring with itself a new day, just as the reigning darkness of this fallen world seems finally compelled to abate. Despite even the most lugubriously tragic of unforeseen circumstances, music has always been the saving grace of many otherwise godforsaken days. Sublimely timeless were the songs that joyfully inspired me to consider the deepest existential issues always to my own heart, mind and soul so dear and close. Bringing great alleviating joy and edifying meaning to a valiant life once so boldly lived, music brought a hopeful sense of order to an otherwise perennially entropic state of affairs. In the midst of reigning chaos, music always taught me to strive for a new order.

Amid the occasionally confusing cacophony of daily strife, music enlivened my spirit by helping elucidate the many mysteries of love and life, always having more to convey than peaceful quietude would ever so gently acquiesce. Its myriad memorable lessons sublimated days and nights of much unrest, usually followed by a purifying joy, cathartic peace and great emotional stress release. Without relegating the lingering importance of the past, nor ignoring the imposing preeminence of the future, music always made its towering presence felt by inspiring and freeing my spirit to enjoy only the very best the present moment could ever provide. If reflection should ideally precede action, music also allowed me to consider how some of the most pressing emotional issues in life truly affected my spiritual wellbeing. All of this brought a hopeful sense of order to my life, instilling in me the undying belief that more auspicious days were soon bound to come, a redemptive age when so many of the misjudgements of the past would finally be properly addressed.

As the highly inspirational music of choice so closely resembled and addressed so many of the existential issues pertaining to my own life, there was only so much that silent reflection alone could have accomplished. Though comfortable silence was never a true enemy of mine, music always had more to say than time and quietude could ever so amiably acquiesce. Bringing a semblance of order to the otherwise perennially chaotic, reigning dissonance of daily life, music inspired me to overcome even the most distressing of troubles to have occasionally trammelled my way. Heartfelt music even vindicated many of the difficult choices made along life's seemingly tortuous way, always providing the courage, hope and emotional commiseration that only timeless songs could ever convey. Where before there was only impenetrable darkness, music let there be a hopeful, redeeming light, so often ameliorating and mitigating the intermittent pain and dishevelling chaos of daily strife. It was amid this extant bedlam that my sincere love for music first taught me to appreciate the pacifying importance of respecting silence itself.

Loving music first implied learning to value and respect silence while knowing when to break it for the right reasons only. All the dissonant noise of life notwithstanding, golden as silence may always be, it should only be broken if truly improved upon. Challenging the seemingly deceptive, halcyon quietude of ordinary life was an extraordinary feat of art only a paucity of sensitive musicians could ever truly accomplish. Transmuting all of life's negative dissonance into a soulful, harmonious music was most certainly no trifling, nugatory task. So often speaking the international language of heartbreak and love, these extremely talented artists improved upon silence by sharing their oftentimes peaceful craft with an always restless, incessantly warring world. Filling the apparent emptiness of a glorious silence, great music always conjured heartfelt emotions of a past life, having love itself as its only native language. Though primarily based on the personal tales of the artists' own lives, timeless songs always told stories having an universal scope and wide-ranging appeal, especially given the rich emotional landscape depicted, the shared personal experiences involved and the multifarious spiritual values concerned.

How these exceedingly talented and creative musicians immensely contributed to my own life is an epic story still being written before it can ever be fully told. From the resplendent times of the vinyl, all the way to the deceptive invisibility of the digital age, my undying love for music accompanied me since early childhood. So much it had to teach me, words alone would hardly suffice to do it any justice. Discovering the overwhelming beauty of life also meant discovering the entrancing beauty of so many classic songs that imbued all of life itself with such great lyrical significance, boundless joy and deep existential meaning. Never relegating the preeminence of my religious values and spiritual beliefs, the purity with which these songs were first welcomed and sincerely received allowed them to remain always close to my own heart, mind and soul. Since an early age, my untamable passion for this mesmerizing art form was always on display for all to see. As music first became my ubiquitous second shadow, during those bright, early days of childhood, timeless songs followed me everywhere boldness would venture and life would lead me. While so many others would come and go, music arrived only to stay. Always offering the stalwart companionship, emotional support, and spiritual commiseration of a close friend destined never to leave me, music played an incomparable role in my life.

The lasting contribution these classic songs made to my humble existence is certainly not one to be silently understated, arrogantly disparaged or cynically dismissed. Regardless of the spiritual trials faced, many were the great songs that imbued me with a vibrant zest for life, an irresistable desire to seize and enjoy every special moment of an occasionally hectic daily routine. This electrifying power of music was only rendered more ubiquitous by all the liberating freedom that technology progressively allowed. Momentarily setting aside life's manifold personal travails only to enjoy highly inspiring, heartwarming music was something technology increasingly permitted. Despite even the most unforeseeable of changing circumstances, ruthlessly dictated by life itself, music followed me wherever God should lead me. Whichever direction the divine should point, music was always bound to follow, especially as constantly evolving technology ever so conveniently allowed. Owning both a smartphone and an mp3 player to replace my old discman, walkman and turntable, music universally accompanied me everywhere technology allowed me to take it. As portability progressively became less of a limiting factor, few are those still spinning the black circle. Since musical quality and mobility are no longer inimical concepts, music can now be cherished wherever one should go and whenever a timely opportunity should present itself. No greater freedom could music ever provide than the ability to enjoy it anywhere and at anytime.

Although the age of digital distribution enormously contributed to the easy accessibility of music, classic songs have always been an inextricable part of my life since time immemorial. Throughout the many wondrous stages of life, music always made its ubiquitous presence felt, offering me an inspired musical score to all of life itself. It was the greater portability that provided the priceless freedom to enjoy entrancing songs wherever we should bravely venture forth and go. Even when moving from one enclosed confined space into another, music provided a halcyon freedom never to be restrained by the unforgiving seclusion so reticently imposed by any given four walls. This liberating omnipresence transformed music into an inextricable part of my daily life even as the memory of the places travelled and the people met along the way are inseparably related to various songs of choice. When the remembrance of my past life is so closely associated with music, some songs can never be listened to with impunity. The price one pays is being taken back to a time and place where life was markedly different from the present age, although the main pursuit of happiness and quest for greater existential meaning still wends unabated. Music has been known to appropriate these special memories always in defense of my true love for life itself.

As previously suggested, despite innumerable restless days and sleepless nights, music always instilled in me an unquenchable love for life. This illuminating feeling was unswervingly destined to accompany me through even the most menacing and irascible tempests of life, always offering me the hope and courage to believe the future would always be a marked improvement on the past. Time only bows before the beauty of music because timeless songs still defy the unforgiving passage of the most tumultuous years. To consider an era devoid of music is to imagine a future much less welcoming than the past, even despite the many overbearing and domineering troubles of days and nights of great unrest. A weary life without music would only force and blind my imagination to accept the reigning darkness of a hopeless world, one where the celebration of life itself was unjustly suffocated and violently silenced to absolutely no redeeming avail at all.

A dreary world tragically devoid of highly sensitive, inspirational music would only render us all the poorer for it. The absence of music would only leave an abyssal void behind, a supermassive black hole of baleful regret and unfathomable negative emotions anyone could most certainly do without. Considering a life devoid of this spirited art form would be tantamount to living stranded in an inhospitable, scaldingly suffocating desert whose arid landscape proved always inimical to spiritual peace, not to mention heartfelt love itself. Finding a welcoming oasis amid this forlorn landscape is what classic songs are really all about. While relying on the effulgent power of my imagination to selectively relive the most precious remembrances of my past life, music has even allowed me to occasionally travel back in time. Only timeless songs can ever take a music lover to all those special places only his best memories are ever allowed to go.

No wonder cherishing life also implies revering all the great music that so much has to say about our unique experience in this seemingly tragic, but overwhelmingly beautiful world of ours. Hardened hearts that can no longer properly value music tend to suffer at the hands of a silent solitude broken only by dissonant noise, small talk, mindless violence, quiet desperation and unnecessary aggravation. During a bountiful time of plenty, when a cornucopia of great songs is so easily made available to all those who sincerely care to enjoy timeless music, forever mounting are the excuses not to do so. Precisely when music has become so incredibly omnipresent and universally accessible through various extremely affordable digital streaming services, many are those who tragically complain of not having the requisite time to enjoy it. By way of dissenting view, there are also many others who disdainfully discredit music as just another cheap and time-consuming form of mindless alienation they can most certainly do without. Why a divine virtue should ever be discredited as an alienating earthly vice is only sadly revealing of the reigning darkness of this age, a frantic era where silent, suffocating solitude strikes so many as an agreeable way of life. Fortunately, there are those of us eternally bound to soundly disagree.

Passionately listening to music as a joyful, emotionally sensitive accompaniment to life itself, one can hardly complain of silent solitude while enjoying highly inspiring, spiritually reverberant timeless songs. Although there are feelings only silence and a warm embrace can ever convey, music that truly touches our hearts has a way of both soothing and electrifying the spirit through the many emotional stages of life. Despite all the unnecessary aggravation of my daily shuffle, music always inspired me to contemplate, savor and experience the exquisite beauty of life, saying with actions what could only very rarely be said with words alone. Joyfully celebrating love and life through music has always remained an indomitable passion of mine, one perennially unwavering even as time went by. To recount the life story of an avid music lover such as myself is to invariably remember all the great songs that so much meaning brought to my unique experience in this persistenly volatile and troubled world of ours. That love and music should always be married in song remains a stalwart belief ever so close to my own heart. Those embittered enough to believe this seemingly warring couple should finally be divorced ought to really know better.

As a romantic accompaniment to love itself, there is much music has to say that only a passionate heart can ever truly convey. Those failing to do so have only allowed an overbearing silence to tragically stand in their way. A silent love story, laconically unaccompanied by an inspired musical score, may not be one worth recounting or reliving even in memory. When there is always so much to say, but so little desire to do so, perhaps respecting a deafening silence may tragically become an unavoidable imposition. Dictated solely by the ever changing circumstances of life, this unforgiving imposition has been known to silence not only music itself, but also the heart just as well. How fortunate can one be that this was a crippling emotional problem never so spitefully encountered. Impassionedly accompanying every romantic relationship with an inspired musical score, carefully chosen romantic songs were always played to woo and serenade a loved one. When combined with flowers, chocolate and other occasional gifts, music can express a man's feeling for a special woman in such a heartfelt way that only the most insensitive would ever fail to understand and value. Though the flowers may perish, the delicacies be consumed and the gifts eventually be worn out, the music and accompanying memories could last a lifetime, if not more. Conveying one's feelings for a significant other with carefully chosen romantic songs is a true testament to the fecund, emotionally galvanizing power of music. As William Shakespeare once so sprightly wrote: "If music be the food of love... play on!"

But light as these words from the great bard may first seem to be, there is also a darker side to this story, an ominous aspect of the magical world of song and dance only now to be carefully considered. Entirely inseparable as the marriage of music and romantic love has always been, it is oftentimes quite dysfunctional as well. Many are the classic songs that only became immensely popular by first capturing the lost beauty of prior failed relationships and only later encapsulating the myriad tragic lessons so painfully learned. Once romantic disillusionment was poetically translated into music, every sacrifice was then made to appease the many desperate needs of the most passionate hearts. While helping restore hope in one's approach to life, music can sometimes provide a proper sense of commiseration for whatever heartbreak may have ensued, immensely contributing to one's personal confidence and future happiness. Uplifting our spirits by how it influences us to reflect and feel about love and life, music can help foster the requisite emotional maturity always needed to supplant and overcome whatever unfortunate adversities may have fatefully impeded our way.

Bringing great alleviating hope and joy where before only an excruciating, bleeding despondence could abide, music also had a soothing, regenerative, healing power. Recurrently aiding the most romantically inclined, great music has never truly abandoned those who wholeheartedly care for it. Always so deeply in love with so many classic songs that attribute such great meaning to life, a true music lover would simply never relinquish his passion. Even during the darkest times of trouble, music always came to my aid in no uncertain way, invigorating not only my individual self-esteem but also my personal wellbeing. While offering much in the way of emotional commiseration, these timeless songs only seem to prove how misery so deeply loves company. Sometimes, the mere realization that other human beings may have also suffered a lancinating emotional pain, not so very different from our own, already suffices to make us feel better about our personal predicaments, collectively shared as they may be.

Cautioning the less experienced not to crassly repeate the same forlorn mistakes of old, many of these great songs also help educate the sensitive listener. A sensitive heart can easily decode even the most cryptic of recondite messages, those only concealed in music that truly ventures forth to explore the deepest recesses of the human heart, mind and soul. Music may sometimes teach a prescient lesson that life itself will only much later care to expound upon. Other times, while being spiritually tested, life may also teach a profound lesson only later captured in our music of choice. Whichever the case may be, the lingering darkness conveyed by this intimate musical exploration should never be taken lightly, bearing more illuminating significance to our personal lives than most should ever dare forget. Those who fail to vicariously learn from the experience of others are always bound to repeat their same forlorn mistakes while making their own. The hefty price to pay for this reckless disregard should never be so wantonly ignored.

Those who think the many fruits of experience can never be vicariously transferred, only personally acquired, should always be mindful of what this harrowing belief truly implies. When failing to learn trom the mistakes of others, maturity usually comes at the price of individual pain, personal experience and great spiritual penance. This learning process requires an accompanying faith, sensitivity and wisdom never with impunity to be nonchalantly disregarded or contemptuously debased. Many are the important lessons music always has to teach only those who truly care to learn. When seen as a spiritually redemptive journey, an epic quest for divine understanding and a personal voyage of emotional self-discovery, life is a continuous learning process never to cease simply with the enjoyment and appreciation of music alone. What a classic song has to say about its time and place in history should only be ignored at great emotional and spiritual penance of the most personal kind.

He who fails to learn from the many mistakes made by others is always bound to make his fair share himself. Songs that aspire to be truly timeless always transcend the generation to which they originally belonged, touching the lives of those to whom the musical torch was eventually passed on to. Whatever darkness is conveyed by these timeless songs must be properly interpreted, processed and duly understood. Despite whatever resonant sense of companionship music may provide, not all it has to say and teach can always assuage a broken heart, especially when the tragic reality of so many dysfunctional relationships seems to pervade the multilayered tragic stories musically told. When the subliminal message of a classic song should only be understood as a confessionary and cautionary tale, one should never feel inclined or compelled to emulate its underlying thematic story in real life. If the same tragedy once vicariously experienced were to be personally reproduced in the real world, one would only be contributing to the overweening heartbreak so often artistically glorified. Learning from all the darkness personally experienced by another human being should never necessarily imply embracing it and experiencing it yourself.

Although learning to separate fact from fiction may sometimes be a challenging task, especially given the umbilical intersection between music and life, not all that timeless songs have to convey about love is as emotionally dignifying and spiritually gratifying as one would ideally hope for. To quote Fantine from "Les Miserables": "Just as there are dreams that cannot be, there are storms we cannot weather." If many are the stories devoid of a happy ending, many are the heartbreaking relationships only doomed to fail long before their time. Truly imposing is the darkness music can convey when the importance of romantic love within relationships is the subject of fruitful debate. Learning to properly interpret the myriad dark lessons music so often has to teach about love is most certainly no small task, especially when so much bitter despondency and scarring heartbreak are so inextricably related. For all the vibrant joy and redeeming light that music can so passionately bring into our lives, there is also something to be said about all the lingering darkness it can convey. When pensively sitting down to write one's reflections about music and how it so closely relates to both love and life, there is certainly considerable darkness to be valiantly addressed and faithfully illuminated.

Now moving on to discuss what music so acerbically has to convey about romantic love, heavy clouds can already be seen lingering on the horizon. As an ominous indication of the reigning darkness of this world, there is much that music has to say about romantic love that is hardly so sanguine and cheerfully optimistic. In a cold dark world where using and abusing a significant other is what tragically passes for romance, what becomes of true love poses a perplexing and troubling quandary. What music still has to impart about romantic love should at the very least serve as a galvanizing wake-up call for all those who idealize interpersonal relationships, oftentimes in seeming disregard for the associated deleterious impact on their own lives. Throughout this dark era, where so many romantic relationships conspicuously leave so much to be desired, no wonder the accompanying music of the times should only cynically dismiss romantic love as being nothing more than a "Wicked Game", as Chris Isaak once so gracefully and painfully sang. Deemed by some to be the dark anthem of a despondently troubled, cynical and brokenhearted generation, this song soulfully asks what it means to fall in love amid a world so violently and mendaciously intent on breaking our hearts and tearing us down.

The darkly plangent elegance of the main guitar melody introduces and impels Isaak's impassionedly soothing tenor voice, empowered by a singing style only vaguely reminescent of Elvis himself. With the accompanying instrumental music acting as a clarion call to deliver lyrics of unparalleled mordancy, his ardent words bear a powerful nihilistic significance. Always critical of the true meaning of love, his crestfallen and wistful lyrics are only representative of an abyssal disillusionment with the most noble of divine emotions and celestial sentiments. As increasingly scarce and rarefied as it has now so unfortunately become, love can never claim to be a universal language when so many fail to understand its meaning and master its use. While the deeply soothing instrumental music warmly welcomes the listener with the comforting softness of a velveteen embrace, the caustic accompanying lyrics only evoke an abrasively discordant, diametrically opposed emotional effect.

Chris Isaak's ardent words are soulfully delivered as a wistful, star-crossed lamentation, entirely eviscerating the dire prospects of making a serious emotional investment in a deeply committed, longlasting, romantic relationship ever again. When romance itself becomes nothing more than a malign subterfuge to use and abuse significant others, always as a manipulative means to a questionable end, heartless deception only gives rise to this most insidious and baleful of wicked games. What desperation motivates the most solitary to indulge in this lie has already inspired countless classic songs. One can only wonder whether the entirely misguided fear of solitude is the real driving force impelling those whose romantic lives have long degenerated into this most heartless of wicked games. Though some may still believe the road to Hell to be paved with good intentions, the real players of this wicked game most certainly know otherwise.

A cold-hearted world where people use one another for the most disgraceful of purposes is certainly not one where true love can so easily or peacefully flourish and abide. The song "Wicked Game" describes the search for and eventual rejection of a love that despite setting the world on fire could only invariably lead to a broken heart. The memorable loss of a loved one and the ensuing heartbreak involved only instigated the desolate singer to reject ever falling or believing in love again. All throughout this song, just as Chris Isaak insinuates his deep dissatisfaction with this wicked game, the female back supporting vocals only add to his baleful misery and desolate pain, warning him of the dangerous road ahead. By incessantly admonishing him that this is a cold world always set on breaking our hearts, no spiritually redeeming value is ever said to be found in romantic love itself.

Despite originally musing that salvation could only come through the hands of his beloved, the singer goes on to reject the romantic relationship as being entirely undeserving of any significant emotional investment. The song then concludes with a Faustian nihilistic bargain where true love seemingly does not exist because in the end, "nobody loves no one". This bitter realization has a lasting significance never so cavalierly to be dismissed. A cold dark world so tragically devoid of true love can only be rife with heartless violence, mordant cynicism, all-pervasive lies, unforgivable betrayal and mindless greed. This is most certainly a tragic world always to be taken seriously, lest spiritual salvation and redemption were to be debased into a distant, unrealistic dream, entirely devoid of any saving grace and dignifying hope. When understood as a confessionary and cautionary tale, this song has much to teach all those less inclined to idealize romantic relationships in the current most cynical of eras.

Chosen as the ring tone sound of my cell phone for countless years on end, this song indeed served both as a confessionary and cautionary tale, a subtle way music had of warning me about the impetuously fiery and insensitively cold world in which we so restlessly abide. Whenever answering the phone, the caller was invariably introduced by a classic song reminding me of the wicked game always by others seemingly being played. As Chris Isaak so plaintively and soulfully sang: "The world was on fire and no one could save me but you. It's strange what desire will make foolish people do. I never dreamed that I'd meet somebody like you, and I never dreamed that I'd lose somebody like you...What a wicked game you play to make me feel this way. What a wicked thing to do to let me dream of you.What a wicked thing to say you never felt this way. What a wicked thing to do to make me dream of you."

Perhaps only poetry could best explain the reasons why this song remained so relevant throughout the violent passage of the most turbulent years. Even as this cold world was so often set on fire, the poet Robert Frost once wrote, "Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire. But if I had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate to say that for destruction ice is also great, and would suffice." Bound by a shared understanding of human nature, one always replete with myriad spiritual blessings and countless carnal travails, poetry and music often speak the same soulful language. Even when distanced by a gargantuan multigenerational gap, the painful and plaintive language of unrequited love is just as easily understood across all art forms and most age groups, provided one has the requisite courage, maturity and sensibility to speak for oneself.

That the accompanying music of my time had so much to say about the self-destructive search for passionate intimacy was never a subliminal message only meant to be complacently disregarded and wilfully ignored. Amid a cold dark world so often populated by fiery dysfunctional relationships, the inspirational music of choice was less than inclined to extol true love, oftentimes embracing an icy indiferrence so sadly characteristic of the era. This very same desolate world so obdurately bound to end in fire could just as well also end in ice. That cold indifference can be just as destructive as incendiary hate seems to be a proven fact of life, if not of music itself. Why two different roads should converge, leading us to the same tragic final destination, is a desolate certainty my past unforsaken experience dares no longer forget, nor naively dispute. Just as some wantonly self-destructive, soul-searching trips are never really worth our time, the same can be said of some infamous games of the most ill-repute.

In no small measure because of the accompanying music, playing my hand at this wicked game never seemed like a reasonably defensible idea. How grateful can one be that music has a subliminal way of awakening and galvanizing the soul into accepting a hard truth that would otherwise be so easily and silently ignored. Unwittingly embracing romance merely as a wicked game was a tragic blunder my inspirational music of choice adamantly refused to allow or condone. Despite being always mindful of the heavy price exacted by this personal choice, relinquishing my life and happiness before a heartless game of chance was hardly the desired outcome, especially when the house tends to always win. Mistreating human beings merely as disposable means to self-serving ends only transforms the world into a merciless cassino, one where people are freely traded as being just another fungible, short-living stock option.

Merely believing life to be a violent game of cold-hearted probabilities is quite simply to gamble both love and life away. Shamefully playing this most wicked of games was certainly never one of my morbid proclivities nor carnal sins. In no small measure because of all music cautioned me to avoid, becoming deeply emotionally involved in utterly dysfunctional relationships was not a game of chance to be wickedly entertained at my own personal time and individual travail. Finding true meaning in life always seemed to preclude using and abusing significant others merely for the immediate purposes of heartless sexual gratification. Playing this wicked game only obliterates whatever true feelings so-called lovers may have once hoped to share with one another. The crass lying, undignifying manipulation, unforgivable betrayal and subtle subterfuge all exact a ponderous price only one day to be paid in full. Of the many life affirming lessons music has taught me over the years, valuing the true meaning of love was most certainly one.

Though being single may only imply being married to freedom, music always taught me to value my personal wellbeing well above the mere volatile company of a supposed love interest. First learning to live agreeably with oneself only seems to be the necessary precondition to eventually sharing one's life while enjoying the company of a significant other. Never simply sacrificing my longterm plans and goals just to satisfy the always irascible and capricious whims of a lover also remains a well-learned lesson from a prior failed relationship. Learning to bide my time while waiting for another more dignifying opportunity to present itself is what motivates me not to indulge in the same old wicked games so often played by so many heartless, damaged, used and abused young women. The road travelled down by cynicism only makes for a solitary journey because even when accompanied by others we still remain absolutely alone.

Flagrant as this admonition may be, it can simply never be stressed enough for the sole benefit of the most incredulous. Merely considering oneself a ruthless player in a mendacious game of chance where no one ever vies for true love is a losing proposition whichever way one sincerely looks at it. Always pyrrhic is the victory of a self-proclaimed winner who only disgracefully decided to partake in the most godforsaken of games. A heartwrenching race to the bottom, entirely bereft of any spiritually redeeming value, should never be one to so recklessly occupy our limited time on this Earth with. In the end, being always mindful of the company we keep says more about ourselves than we alone ever could. Music long ago taught me that the beauty of life is only worth sharing with those never wasteful of our precious time on this planet.

Just as lying to others first requires lying to oneself, sitting down with a significant other only to embrace heartless self-deception, while entertaining mindless self-delusion, was never my true calling. Deftly playing this wicked game was most certainly never a waste of time to be impetuously condoned or voraciously indulged. This was quite simply not the "Shape of My Heart", another classic song that also addressed romantic love as a game of chance, albeit in a much less despondent way. As Sting himself once so poetically sang: "He deals the cards as a meditation, and those he plays never suspect. He doesn't play for the money he wins, he doesn't play for respect. He deals the cards to find the answer, the sacred geometry of chance, the hidden law of a probable outcome, the numbers lead a dance. I know that the spades are the swords of a soldier, I know that clubs are weapons of war. I know that diamonds mean money for this art, but that's not the shape of my heart... If I told her that I loved you, you'd maybe think there's something wrong. I am not a man of too many faces, the mask I wear is one."

When playing a misguided game of chance becomes more than a morbid metaphor for one's unforgiving love life, the most pressing question to be asked is why sit down to try your hand at this wicked game at all. While some may play for the money they win, others play only for the hollow sense of social acceptance they get, always afforded by the most ill-founded, superficial sense of respect. Amid a mendacious world devoid of true love, some cards are deftly played only to beget violence, while others still may only mean money for this art. Dealing cards by way of a soulful meditation, a true romantic can only wonder why this game should ever be seriously entertained at all. When true love is neither the prize nor the answer, those heavenly bound should only strive for a better final destination.

As deception becomes the native language of choice, to sincerely profess one's love for another player is simply to understand that something has now gone terribly wrong. In a cold-hearted world where human beings habitually use one another for the most disgraceful of purposes, every player has many faces because lying and manipulating is how "winning" is done. As hands are played and failed relationships mount, the numbers lead a dance for those always in search of the sacred geometry of chance. Though Sting may also perceive romance to be a game of chance, he sits down as a player for reasons entirely different from those of Chris Isaak. Since true love is neither the answer, nor the hidden law of a probable outcome, this wicked game is entirely contrary to the shape of my heart.

For all of these reasons, this is most certainly not just another hackneyed song merely reproduced on a previous page to elicit a tritely banal dramatic effect. Since our deepest scars are always borne deep inside, truly revealing ourselves always requires considerably more than mere nudity. Only those who truthfully stand before the world openly professing what they really stand for can ever be sincerely loved for whom they really are. Though sincerity may be punished by the envious who always vie against our happiness, the only other remaining alternative is to embrace the mendacity so intrinsic to most wicked games. Always so utterly contrary to the shape of my heart, these wicked games only help destroy the souls of the participants involved. While conjuring the false illusion of personal happiness and mindless sexual gratification, these games only undermine the sincere quest for true love and long-lasting personal happiness.

No wonder music has always been so reflective of this sad reality, having more to say about our rich emotional lives than one's tiredly mordant cynicism may ever be willing to allow. Some verities in life are only best left unsaid if we should much rather so tragically forget. To cynics, who have always favoured playing wicked games simply because of their acerbic disillusionment with love, Sting only cautioned: "But those who speak know nothing and find out to their cost, like those who curse their luck in too many places, and those who fear are lost." Understanding these lyrics only requires the brave sensitivity of one who, having truly dared to love, also dared to so humbly accept and overcome loss, always with the requisite personal dignity, maturity and responsibility of someone who refused to entirely lose himself simply because a long-lasting personal relationship was now sadly over. Having once so truly loved, and having once so dearly lost, for all her many transgressions fully paid has been the cost.

Though heartbreak alone does not a cynic make, it may also change our view of both music and life in not so subtle ways. That only the heartbroken should ever find a modicum of solace in timeless love songs is a testament to the emotional commitment once so romantically made. Music has a way of healing emotional wounds by always dressing them with the delicate care only a sincere, sensitive and talented heart can provide. This healing process is what allows us to sublimate past lovelorn experiences while becoming considerably more mature along life's mysterious and tortuous ways. What life has to say about music really depends on how we reflect and feel about our own past experiences. To fully understand how our songs of choice closely relate to our own lives requires a level of maturity, faith and emotional self-awareness always extremely healing both to ourselves and others.

Past experience can help us along this healing process because it can be relied on to provide proper context for the stories being told. Serving as a frame of reference through which the many intersections between music, love and life can be fully understood, past experience brings to life all the relevant characters, settings and plots of a lifelong story still being written... even as it is told. Self-awareness of the many volatile emotions involved also helps to convey the sincere meaning of this story in a truthful and sensitive way. When properly deciphered and understood, the lingering darkness in our lives can always be extremely illuminating both to ourselves and others. Past negative experiences have a way of educating all those who sincerely learn from it without losing hope that better days will eventually come. If the mistakes made in life can serve any sincere educational purpose, then redemption may still be at hand for those willing and able to mature, always striving to learn and welcome better days ahead.

All of these past experiences can also be instrumental in alleviating the emotional and spiritual pain felt by untold others. Only those who have shared the bitter taste of a past romantic disillusionment can ever furnish the requisite emotional commiseration to help uplift our spirits, especially amid all the mendacious injustice and heartless violence of this unforgiving world. The Bible itself commands us to laugh with those who laugh and cry with those who cry, always displaying a compassion inextricably commensurate with our religious beliefs. Sentimental pain, deep existential longings, visceral fears, passionate desires, boundless joy, and personal frustrations can all coalesce into art and be shared through music. Conveying even the deepest of emotions, timeless songs have a subliminal way of providing solace and companionship for those facing an emotional plight with similar undertones to the inspirational music of choice.

True as all of this may be, there is also much that music has to say about life in general that goes well beyond whatever sad commentary can be made regarding love itself. Dealing with a highly complex and extremely violent world where true love is the rare exception to the general rule, there are still many ways in which music can positively affect our lives. When sincere romantic love leaves so much to be desired, the raw power that highly inspirational music has to influence both my emotional and spiritual wellbeing should never be relegated to relationships alone. Given the ample scope of its emotionally galvanizing and spiritually liberating power, music has always accompanied me through so many different stages and facets of life.

While a galvanizing sense of emotional excitement ignited a pulsating, cathartic freedom, the liberating spiritual end result was a soulful sense of peace. Amid a violent world that still worships the use of military force, much to the detriment of sincere diplomatic dialogue, this disarming sense of peace is not to be debased. Music that gently calms the spirit also primes us to reject violence and unnecessary aggravation as a legitimate means of addressing our problems, teaching us how to best perceive and value the magical simplicity of life. The spiritual elation and emotional bliss that music always brought into my world only inspired me to be grateful for the simple things in life that contribute so much to my overall happiness and personal joy, especially during the most trying times of spiritual need and emotional hardship.

As one of the many spices of life, music invites us to savor and enjoy the prosaic as being truly sublime. Life is only made less ordinary when its beauty is captured in songs that soothe the spirit by conveying how many of our existential conflicts, longings, and desires are also shared by multitudes across the world. One is considerably less touched by solitude and perhaps also less inclined to embrace violence when listening to music that addresses the very same issues one is experiencing in his personal life. Whatever tears may have been shed, always rest assured many others have also cried before, and for reasons not so entirely different from our own. This shared humanity is what allows so many songs to cross international boundaries, reaching different demographic groups regardless of geographic limitations. If having a heart really implies knowing how to use it, these people all choose to defy silence for the very same reason.

Of the many ways heartbreak should be treated, silence should only rarely be one. As previously suggested, an inspired love song does more to appease the many desperate needs of a broken heart than silence alone ever will. There is also much that music has to convey about life in general that is more comforting than most would perhaps simply care to admit or respect. No small measure of love, experience and sensibility are also required for one to see this far, dissuading a music lover from embracing mindless aggression as an answer to his personal issues, troubles and problems. All the boundless hope and joy that music brings into our lives traverses well beyond the clearly delineated boundaries of our romantic lives and interpersonal relationships. If loving music also implies loving life itself, how the two are inextricably related should come as no surprise.

For all that music always has to say about love, not every song has to be a dark exploration of our romantic lives or conspicuous lack thereof. Looking well beyond the iridescent prism of romance, what music also has to convey about many other facets of life is also something to be carefully considered. Peering outside the remit of romantic relationships, many are the sentimental reasons music always provides us to enjoy our lives and amicably address our problems, calming the spirit to forego violence, conflict and war. While the supposedly strong so often sacrifice peace for armed conflict, only the weak embrace violence as an agreeable way of life. There is always much that music has to say in this regard. Although times of violence may conspire against music by treating it as just another superfluous, alienating, mindless distraction, nothing could be further from the truth. What music has to say about life as a whole vastly transcends the strict emotional limits of interpersonal relationships, always accompanying a music lover through considerably so much more.

Many are the classic songs that address both the lasting significance of enduring peace and the intermittent, relentless nature of war. It really comes as no surprise that embracing violence should be the final ensuing consequence of living in a cold world where no one seems to truly love no one, as Chris Isaak so painfully concluded. Why violence must be such an inextricable part of life while being so ingrained in the human soul is a question that music has always viscerally tried to address. The scarring consequences of this internecine conflict are seared deep within the strong but "Fragile" human spirit. As Sting once sang, "If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one, drying in the color of the evening sun. Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away, but something in our minds will always stay. Perhaps this final act was meant to clinch a lifetime's argument that nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could. For all those born beneath an angry star, lest we forget how fragile we are."

The deep existential meaning behind these thought-provoking words only inspires one to consider the true meaning of life. That only the most fragile can afford to be the most violent is a tragedy frequently lost on those deeply in love with war. When the true meaning of life is so insincerely misunderstood, only Death alone can speak the truth to power. What it has to say should awaken our hearts and minds in no uncertain way. Death is only the end of our stories if our stories ended with life itself. Music certainly does not cease with the temporary silencing of one's heartbeat for those who overcome their own mortality, tame their free will and embrace eternal life. According to Christianity, this is only possible for those who never surrender before the many infernal dictates of this cold dark world. Striving to believe and defend true love is what gives true meaning to life. Despite all the ensuing violence and heartless mendacity of a world always bent on tearing us down, the strict requirements of spiritual salvation should never be so easily dismissed or disdainfully forgotten.

Spiritual salvation is only granted to all those who experience, understand and defend the sublime meaning of true love during the limited course of their lifetimes. This is what the two most important commandments of Christianity have always required. Along this lifelong journey, accompanying music that both educates and entertains us should always be cherished for all the peaceful joy and thoughtful understanding it brings into our lives. Especially during times of darkness, when immediate hope in a peaceful future may only seem to be foundering, sharing one's love for music also implies sharing one's love for life itself. What truly helps unite people along this fractious journey we so simply call life is most certainly something to always be sincerely cherished and appreciatively valued. So symbiotic is the interdependent relationship between music, love and life, it can only be said to unite and bring together people both during times of war and subsequent times of peace.

Although war may bring people close for a fleeting while, only eternal peace and joy will bind them forever. While music can electrify the soul, it can also gently calm the spirit always in defense of love and life itself. Properly interpreted, many are the timeless songs that can immensely contribute to our personal fulfillment, understanding and enjoyment of life, divesting whatever feelings of complacency and ennui we may have about the world at large, people in general and love in particular. Albeit so often undervalued and misunderstood, a seemingly universal art form that always brings so much peace and joy into the world is certainly never one merely with silence to be ignored. Music brings people together because songs are writen only to be artistically and commercially shared, sometimes transcending even the most pertinent of demographic limitations, always as an inspired art form created for the purposes of international entertainment, if not for personal self-enlightment. Ubiquitous as its enjoyment has always been during the most agreeable times of peace, the same is also true even during the most unfortunate times of war.

While the music enjoyed during times of peace generally brings people together, epic music enjoyed during times of war can also achieve a similar effect. Not to be dismissed as just another mindless distraction, music can affect the war effort in ways even the musicians themselves may never have originally considered. Although politically oriented protest songs can bring people together in defense of life and in democratic opposition to war, the opposite is also true. During times of armed or spiritual conflict, music can be used as a weapon of war, boosting morale and uniting troops while scoring many life or death battles, always motivating warriors to undertake feats of bravery otherwise only to be dreamt of. During times of war, music can also feed aggression and fuel rage usually siphoned for violent purposes well beyond the original scope and underlying intent of any given song.

The powerful emotions and adamant spiritual forces conjured for this dramatic effect should only be disparaged at one's own blind peril. As previously stated on a very different occasion, music can always open a subliminal portal into the spiritual world, conjuring inscrutable forces operating well beyond our conscious understanding, having personal agendas not entirely our own. Only very occasionally would these spiritual forces agree that the defense of life also implies the defense of love itself. How tragic some of the most important lessons in life we must learn only by ourselves. Heartfelt music can always touch the soul, conjuring spiritual and emotional forces best unleashed during the appropriate time and place, always adding much greater meaning to our lives along the way. How music so closely relates to the spiritual warfare of daily life is also something not to be crassly ignored.

Of the myriad ways music can relate to life during times of war, so much more could still be said about its role in life during intermittent times of peace. Even during supposed times of peace, when great spiritual conflict trammeling our way must still be overcome, music always made its comforting presence felt. Throughout the various walks of life, timeless songs always came to my aid even during the most challenging moments of daily spiritual warfare. At times when my faith was so severely tested outside the church, music inspired me to defend the Gospel even when the mounting pain of daily troubles would severely command otherwise. Bearing a soulful connection with the spiritual world, music always inspired me to savor and reflect about the true beauty of life and its inextricable connection with the divine.

Aided by my religious beliefs and moral convictions, music instilled in me the requisite motivation to fight for my most precious lifelong dreams, especially when the odds were hardly in my favor. Many were the songs whose beauty and joy taught me to appreciate and be eternally grateful for the little things in life that always imbue it with so much unsung beauty and opulent meaning. Music always helped me to thank God for the bright side of life, as opposed to just being sadly disdainful, caustically sarcastic and selfishly bitter about all that was eventually taken away from me under such tragic, mysterious and seemingly unjust circumstances. Always eternally grateful for the ubiquitous, emotional companionship that music so kindly offered me, I have always taken my music wherever I should go and wherever life should lead me.

Throughout my daily life, music even accompanied me during great moments of physical exhertion. Inspiring me to overcome apparent limits, music motivated me to surpass training plateaus while allowing my body to grow leaner, faster and stronger. More than a training partner, music always helped to mollify and overcome the pain associated with challenging moments of physical exercise, helping to set new personal records while surpassing all prior limits. The electrifying power of music helped me embrace a highly active lifestyle that literally took my breath away, becoming a second heartbeat propelling me always forward with every single step taken as a sprinter, medium distance runner, power walker and natural bodybuilder. Many were the songs that inspired me to adopt a more contemplative view of life during these special moments when my body was taken to extremes only my heart, mind and soul were bound to follow. Whatever love was had for physical exercise was in no small measure due to the lively accompanying music that so easily helped me sweat so many of my troubles away.

While lifting weights in the gym, music helped me harness an incandescent rage and channel a primal aggression, albeit in an entirely nonviolent, productive way that only made me both physically, mentally and emotionally stronger. Taming potentially self-destructive emotions for life affirming purposes only was certainly no small feat. Harnessing otherwise irascible emotions for peacefully productive purposes always helped me optimize athletic performance while immensely contributing to my personal enjoyment of life. Experiencing the tropical beach and the great outdoors while listening to highly inspirational music also instilled in me a loving and unforgettable sense of freedom, one that would later accompany me through otherwise solitary moments of unjust seclusion and involuntary confinement. Scenic, shirtless walks by the beach were always scored with calming music that liberated the spirit to enjoy a peaceful, loving freedom that memory itself has yet to betray. However difficult it may be to extol its value in writing, a man knows he has listened to great music when words alone fail to do it any justice.

Only the longstanding familiarity with the music in question now motivates me to defy the wisdom of embracing silence, while also allowing the songs to magically speak for themselves. Suffice to say that silence has occasionally been known to betray all those obligated to speak in defense of their own innermost values and spiritual beliefs. Speaking one's heart and mind on this matter requires a certain level of sincerity almost wantonly self-harming in nature, especially when candid words are maliciously taken out of context for the most manipulative and devious of reasons. But if one could so humbly offer free advice, always be sincere with yourself before being true to others. Sincerely revealing oneself is the only earnest way to truly love and be loved by others, especially while honoring and defending all we most deeply care about. Only special topics always so close to my mind, heart and soul have ever merited candid attention in writing, my eternal love for music being just one such unforgettable example.

In honor of my undying love for music, the acoustic set of the band "Above & Beyond" was carefully chosen to so elegantly accompany these humble, unpretentious words. This magical night in London encapsulates many of the passions, longings, desires and frustrations assailing myriad sleepless nights of a recently deceased past. The classical orchestration of songs that were originally electronic in nature is only revealing of the strength of the music in question and its sophisticated ability to entirely reinvent itself, if only to appease acoustic tastes without even remotely sacrificing its original beauty, elegance and style. This singular musical performance originally symbolized a new creative direction for a highly accomplished and equally versatile band that previously specialized only in electronic music.

Bringing a fresh breath of life to the music scene more than twenty years ago, Above & Beyond eventually decided to perform and record an acoustic version of their greatest hits for a very intimate concert at the Porchester Hall in London, set almost ten years ago. Although much could be said to extol their incomparable live acoustic performance, it may simply be best to allow their timeless songs to speak for themselves. Sometimes in order to innovate an artist has to divest his music down to the classical bare essentials always so revealing of his true musical craftsmanship. Those who misunderstand the new always age before their time because nobody ever said the future must be a mindless repetition of the past. Tomorrow never waits around for yesterday to take its leave before deciding to make its presence felt. Of the many ways musical history is made this is most certainly one. To make every beat count always remember that electricity only amplifies every single note ever played, not to mention the love for music itself.

Such is the apparent redemptive power of this love for music that a stalwart belief in the divine almost becomes a natural consequence of exploring the deep and lush emotional landscape involved. Sincerely thanking the divine for all the magnificent music perennially enjoyed is to offer God our undying gratitude and heartfelt appreciation for all the seemingly tragic but always enduring beauty of life. One can only be candidly grateful for all that music can contribute to the most intimate appreciation and understanding of the true meaning of both love and life. But music that touches our hearts and minds can only be said to equally affect our souls just as well, leading one to contemplate the many existential ramifications of worshipping the divine.

While attending church, music immeasurably enriched my life by empowering me to worship the divine, singing praise and glory to God himself. That divine love should always be incomparably more faithful than the romantic variety was a biblically based belief so close and dear to my heart. Those were the days when living in London motivated me to liberate myself from more mundane concerns, searching within the church for a music and divine love embodying a devout religious conviction not so easily found in others outside its walls. Despite being Catholic and having a special predilection for Mozart's final requiem mass, it was select evangelical music that most enraptured my spirit with such a sincere love and earnest appreciation for the divine.

Although church attendance alone does not a devout believer make, truly amazing was the grace of singing praise to God amid a time and place that hardly entertained the sacred in spite of the many struggles of big city daily life. It is not every day that such a welcoming oasis should be found amid such a deceptively arid spiritual desert, one sadly characteristic of so many high pressure workplaces and intense business environments. Why an otherwise splendid and resplendent city should allow so little time for the pursuit of true love can only remain a baffling quandary always in search of a divine answer. Although one does not necessarily have to sing in church just to honor God with music, there is much that can be said in defense of taking the requisite time to do so. Expressing one's gratitude for the very best we have in life can certainly be done anywhere one pleases, although it might take a real church to provide the always rare fellowship of true believers.

Outside the confines of church life, music taught me to nurture an unswerving enmity for a cold dark world that so often conspired against my spiritual life. Of the many musical genres listened to, Rock was a particular one that always taught me to rebel not against God himself, but against a stygian world ruled by so many ominous, hypocritical powers and false, illegitimate authorities. Always diligently conspiring against the pursuit of true love, these false principalities even dare question our very extant reason for being. As if finding our place in this fallen world wasn't already challenging enough, doing so while rejecting so many of the injustices forced upon the faithful is a trial by fire. As St. Paul once wrote in his biblical letter to the Ephesians 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." No wonder both Christ and St. James also warned us that having amity with this unjust world necessarily implies having enmity with a just God.

Fortunately, life should never be a solitary journey of spiritual redemption just because some of us may have the rare self-confidence to take the road less traveled by. When accompanied by energizing music that liberates the spirit to defend itself from those only seeking to destroy it, one finds the requisite courage to always stand for what one so honestly believes to be true about life. If primal rage does in fact make victims of us all, there is great merit to be found in music that captures this unquenchable and incandescent emotion for productive purposes only. As a legacy of youth that has lived on only to brighten my days, rock still teaches me that having enmity with a world that so often vies to destroy our spirit is a religious necessity never to bow down even before time itself. There is much that the lovingly pure musical appreciation of youth can always teach a more nuanced, experienced and perhaps less sanguine middle age in this regard.

Only now realizing that my love for music has recently come under unrelenting attack, the time has arrived to rekindle this lifelong passion once again. Music should never cynically surrender before the neverending beauty of life, as only the dying are ever so comfortably numb. Although talented artists always deserve to be duly compensated for their original work, their creative labor should always be one of love, never having money alone as the primary motivation behind their songs. Music so often treated as just another commodity to be freely sold in the marketplace only objectifies those listening to it, not to mention the artists themselves. As a pure artistic expression of sincere thoughts, honest convictions and deeply held emotions, music should always aspire to explore the most intimate recesses of the human soul, a magical journey of self-discovery never to be traversed for money alone.

Now having the benefit of age and experience, there is always much that music merely sold at a price has to say about money as a vice. Provided age does not intrude, there is a considerable amount that youth can always teach experience. Only by first understanding the many limitations of money can true love ever be so divinely priceless. Artists who sell their souls also sell music never truly their own. Musicians who conspire against their own creative freedom, simply to indulge and appease the always mercurial and irascible whims of undisclosed consumer markets, do so only to betray their own music, if not select demographic groups. As the late Kurt Cobain once taught me, it's always best to be truly loved for whom we really are than to be falsely adored for whom we never were, but could potentially still pretend to be. Living a life less farcical has never done anyone any true harm.

As previously stated elsewhere, on the wearing of many masks it's always best to consider living with none. Of all that can be said about music, love and life, this has been but a humble attempt to reveal a few of my deepest thoughts and feelings on a subject to my heart, mind and soul always so dear and close. Only by sincerely presenting ourselves before the world can we ever truly be loved for whom we really are, as opposed to being falsely adored for whom we never were, but could only feign to be. This is equally true of music and all of art itself. The pressure of living up to false appearances and specious expectations only leads an artist to become an inveterate liar, first to himself and only later to others. Why a talented musician would ever want to live as a venal politician is a question only those who have sold their souls could ever truly answer. Otherwise valued as a sincere artistic expression of the soul, music should never simply whore itself out to the blindness of the highest bidder. So always be careful in whom you look up to, as it may only take you down. Standing alone only makes me wonder why so many others lack the requisite courage to defend their personal convictions. Every visionary first begins as a dreamer because every vision first unfolds as a dream.

One such dream was to express myself musically by playing and mastering the classical, acoustic and the electric guitar. During the many years spent studying this art form, my underlying motivation and original guiding principle was simply to play the music I could not listen to while listening to the music I could not play. The only notable exceptions to this rule were the two "Unplugged" albums by Eric Clapton and Nirvana. These were the only two live acoustic albums I would listen to while playing my guitar to accompany some of my favorite artists. While paying homage to some of their timeless songs, my guitar always expressed my true love for music, exalting a halcyon freedom that only sang praise to some of the great artists that came before me. Despite always being transcendentally spiritual, those were the days when my relationship with music was also carnal and physical, as opposed to the current ethereal love affair so invisibly characteristic of the digital streaming age. Now that private ownership of a physical medium is hardly ever possible, a simple smartphone can play more music than any record store has ever made available. Even the greatest of record collections now pales in comparison to the seemingly endless, online music library a streaming service like Spotify currently has to offer.

Although the times have certainly changed, somethings still remain the same. Such was my personal and intimate relationship with music that sharing it with large, abrasive and gregarious crowds was never a goal truly worth striving or living for. Despite only briefly having played in a rock band while living in America, my intimate relationship with my musical instrument was never one so easily shared with the raucous and dehumanizing aggressiveness of large crowds, having always favoured playing for my personal gratification only in much more comfortable, personal and intimate settings. Though many are the lingering memories that still accompany me from this long deceased time, my passionate love for my musical instrument never truly died. Silent as my guitar has been for the past few years, resuming my study of music is a goal now considerably closer to fruition. The day my love for music empowers me to express myself creatively once again will be a day of great redeeming pride, vindicating glory and boundless joy. The motivation to so humbly resume my studies is largely based on what terminatively abandoning music would tragically entail and ominously feel like.

The day when music no longer fills the emptiness of a glorious silence is the day it no longer conjures heartfelt emotions of a past life, the day love becomes an unlearned foreign language, the day we embrace an endless night. Although legendary artists never outlive their music, as timeless songs never die, no one accompanied by great music should ever complain of being disquietly alone. As a life devoid of music is nothing but a desolate desert from which to escape, transcendental are the classic songs taking us to heavenly places we may never want to leave or so regretfully forget. A sensitive heart listens to great music with the emotional depth and experienced maturity never simply to reject a divine virtue as an earthly vice. Soulful music always brings joy into a heartless world where so many still strive to tear us down. Timeless are the songs whose everlasting beauty and eternal significance survive even the most unrelenting passage of unforgiving years. Music can always take us back to special places only our best memories are ever allowed to go. May my passionate love for music always age while never growing old.


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