For years I’ve been looking for the “it” factor when it comes to music. The one unidentifiable attribute that separates music that I fall in love with from music that I like. That separates the music with a good beat, catchy lyrics (if it’s a song), interesting orchestration, or whatever, from music in which you can take solace and forget yourself. Music you can wrap up in, like a blanket on a snowy night, and just let flow through you.
Several attributes have sprung to mind at different times. Some I’ve outlined in earlier posts. Whatever it is, I still haven’t been able to codify it yet. I’ve got a “Contemplative” playlist, consisting of nearly 1,500 songs (out of the 13,729 that I have on my hard drive) that somehow reach my heart in this way, and it’s as diverse of a list of music as you can get, ranging from predictable choices like arranged hymns and “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds, to less predictable, but understandable (if you know me), choices, like remixes of tunes from Chrono Trigger or the theme from Superman, to completely random picks like Weird Al’s “Hardware Store” or Homestar Runner singing “Todaybor Day is Labor Day.” All of these songs, to varying degrees, possess this “Factor X.”
I’ve tried to emulate it in certain songs I’ve written. Some of them I’ve tried and tried but they never quite clicked (such as “House of Saints” or “Cavernous Triumph”), others I’ve gotten pretty close (like “Lightning” or “Phrustration”), but even those two aren’t quite there yet (“Lightning” gets awfully busy at times, while “Phrustration” is too much of a downer).
Speaking of feeling down, I’ve been rather depressed lately for various reasons, the biggest being yet another birthday spent as an undergrad, so yesterday I took an afternoon off and poured out my soul in the best way I know how: into music. Spending an afternoon and a good chunk of the evening working on this resulted in the closest I’ve ever gotten to encapsulating perfectly that “Factor X.” And so, in lieu of a “52 Weeks” post this week, I’d like to share it with you. I don’t have lyrics for it yet, but I may never have lyrics for it. I’ll leave the interpretation of the music up to the listener, where it’s sure to be more personally affecting.
What do you think? Does it possess that factor for you?