I studied the constitution. I remember the rather “free” rights I am allotted to as much as the next individual. But what does “freedom” really mean? Sure, I live in one of the freest countries in the world. I can waltz my fingers to type yelp.com into the search bar and rate this coffee shop with zero stars if I wanted, walk away and not face a consequence. I can be one of the hate filled youtube commenters who uses the Internet as a giant plain of atrocious comments insulting social classes, people or religions. There’s plenty of freedom to be had in America, and plenty other places in the world. That’s not what I’m here for though, if you’re anything like me and reading this, I’m sure you’ve heard someone (for me it was Jason Butler and Josh Scogin) tell you to “be free” from a venue stage. It took me a few years (and a lot of clean up in the angst department) to really discover how music can open a new path of freedom in your life.
Creative freedom has to be one of the most self-rewarding types of freedom, actually, it is; I’ve seen it. It took plenty of time away from my shackled life as a steady 8-13 hour a day work life to finally see what true freedom is. The people that have given up the quote-unquote normal trek of life have always seemed to be the most fulfilled, whether spiritually or personally. I always thought I was doing life differently than others, but it was not till I started listening to music more closely and with the intent of cherishing it — and at the same time caressing the broken heart, soul and person that was me — that I began to feel liberated. I kind of dove into this in my last article, but music helped me see that there was an actual side of myself that I had not really focused on. Instead of empowering myself, I had allowed an internal resistance to selfishly collapse my inner soul that I felt impartial and out of line with my entire being. I felt like for breakfast I gassed myself with anesthesia and numbed the world out, surviving the day just to do the same as I went to sleep. Nothing about it was free, and it hit me when someone asked me what a normal day was like for me. I felt dumbfounded as the only thing that came to my head was, “writing, work and then sleeping under the influence of alcohol.” That’s not free, that’s like being an animal chained up in a cage, locked in a box and only allowed to see the light of day for a nightly ritual of “somebody pay attention to me” before locking yourself back in the cage again.
Music possesses a lot of great qualities, and the ones that are creative enough to shred their corruptive inner monologue into artistic creations have freed a portion of themselves. Look at PWR BTTM, or JANK or Every Time I Die or Sorority Noise or letlive.. All of these groups are stylistically different, but they are all out doing what they want to do. They dropped portions of their quote-unquote normal lives and slipped into a void of aimless wonder that stimulates their identities into people okay with being themselves, however that may be. They’ve shed enough of themselves that they have learned to possess the age old “don’t care what people think” attitude and walk through life with beauty perched on their shoulders like a parrot; a colorful vibrant bird who’s not afraid to speak or look however they want.
Listening to music that makes me feel free and without worry has been one of the healthiest steps I have ever taken in my life. I’m not talking about music that is politically charged, but rather anything that sings to your soul. Does that Justin Bieber song speak wonders to you, or are you just falling victim to the big norm of society? Separate what’s valuable to you and encase it deep in your chest, right in the spot where your chest collapses due to the anxiety hiding somewhere in your lungs, heart and pit of your stomach. There’s an entire world of music at the tips of your fingers (made easier thanks to apps), so why not find that song that will open up the tear ducts or widen that smile? Who cares if your friends despise it, it’s got an attachment that means more than an opinion, and that’s because it’s with you, not them. The freest of people will spend their days finding beauty rather than sulking in the rubble of their filth.
It’s hard not to live for other people when your entire life the path seems so standard. Live for yourself, you never know what you will find, or what you will hear. I’ve never felt more confident than now, and it took months of finding that inner peace and nurturing it with sounds that make it tremble with movement; whether it be a flamboyant dance or a trance like state of rocking back and forth. Music has slowly reinforced my love for people and helped me gravitate towards the individuals walking without that tired and tense ache in their lives, instead of resonating warmth and happiness through their souls. Everyone has the power in them to do what they want, to feel how they want and more importantly, to finally free themselves of the corrupting and constricting part of life. Start with the small things, find what moves you, and you will then hear what moves you.
Weirdly enough, I stumbled upon a passage in a William Faulkner novel that related to this same idea of freedom: “Between grief and nothing I will take grief.” Often as human beings we are constricted by false entities that we invented, giving us not enough room to spread out and let our spirits be free. That definition isn’t in the constitution, it’s not even made up. It’s who we are.
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