My bus journey home from work consists of darkness, flickering street lights and a stupid amount of traffic lights. Stopping and starting. Foolish drivers who make their own rules. I block this all out by listening to music. Of course there’s always one I play more often than others. Obviously it is Florence + The Machine. Due to listening to her in moments like this, it causes my mind to wander off and weird things to happen in my brain. The headphones I have cause everything to be blocked out, I notice different layers of the songs and I feel like I am in my own little world. This happens a lot. It isn’t me escaping; it’s just how I am; and how I will always be. The day I stop feeling like this, then I probably won’t have any reason to breathe anymore. It isn’t dramatic, music is my lifeline. I’ve got nothing else.
I know I have written about her so many times; it is only because she is one of the most important musicians to me. Every now and then, something hits me metaphorically in the gut that makes me fall in love with her music even more. It’s like when you’re with someone, and you catch them doing something or they say something and it makes you remember all the reasons as to why you are in love with that person. I don’t think anything I write is going to make sense due to me being really tired, and I’ve got too much to say so I’ll just make no sense at all.
When I first heard her music I was just going into my second year of Uni. So that was around 2007. I just heard this voice appear out of nowhere in a video with Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion/Blood Orange) and I was instantly hooked. I loved how powerful her voice was. It was effortlessly dominating. There was such strength in this voice, I was blown away. Her debut album was my crutch for a hell of a long time. I don’t care if it makes me sound like a dickhead, I honestly do not know what I would’ve done without that record. It got out everything I felt and was possibly petrified to say. I don’t feel the same as I do about Ceremonials. This isn’t a bad thing. See, two years have passed since Lungs came out and I’m quite possibly the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Lungs was a huge part of that. The record immediately fixed me that day in 2009 when it arrived at my house; signed by Florence. I played it over and over. And over….and over. I’ve got about 5 copies of it- the only one that works properly now is the vinyl I have. I rarely play it.
Whilst on the bus home this evening, I played Ceremonials. I didn’t feel the same as I did with Lungs- mainly because I’m happy. The record still has that euphoric feeling and makes you feel so graciously weightless. It has something about it that Lungs doesn’t- but again, this isn’t a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. What I love about Ceremonials is that it makes you feel like you are lying so calmly on a bed of water. Just floating on and on- towards something, towards nothing. Wherever you wish your body to go to, I suppose. Ceremonials has this sort of church vibe to it. Everything on the record is so grand and echoes so perfectly in your ears. Every word just mesmerises you. You can’t listen to this record and go about your daily business. You have to shut everything and everyone off as you listen to it. Ceremonials transports you to a different world- one different from Lungs. There is more certainty in this record but still the same amount of vulnerability of dark subjects that many are so fucking petrified to touch on. I will never understand how a person can ignore the darker side of things; they are the things that make you human. They are the things that cause your heart to carry on beating.
I love the devilish tones that come through in a lot of Florence’s songs. I love that she can project all the deep and ugly feelings so many of us try to disguise and/or ignore. Just listen to songs such as Breaking Down. It is heartbreaking. Then you have songs such as No Light, No Light- it is such a frail song. It makes you think about the things to try to push away from yourself so you don’t have to face them. It’s true what she says in the song. It really is easier to say things to a crowd of people than it is to say what you want/need to say to just one person- the person who needs to hear it more than the crowd does. The sheer honesty in that song and others is so haunting. One of my favourite things ever in life is Isa’s keyboard solo during Rabbit Heart at FATM gigs. It is so bloody uplifting and euphoric. It makes every limb move, it makes you smile on the inside and outside. It is just a sheer wave of joy that takes over and rules your heart. It is one of the best things to witness live.
I listen to Remain Nameless, and I can’t help but think; “Was this written about me?” I don’t know, maybe it’s because I am partial to carrying around a bit of self doubt around and thinking I’m not always good enough. However, it makes me work harder and is like a constant kick up the arse. Lord knows I need it sometimes. “ I know everybody lets you down, and I’ll do the same.” It’s too easy to relate to this, and I should probably hate myself for it. But, I can’t hate myself no more. All the bad has been done- I’m unsure what to do with the good in me most of the time.
The things I have learnt from Florence’s music have earned a firm place in my heart and mind. They just make me feel less crap about how I feel towards things and people.
If her music was around when I was in secondary school, it would’ve saved me from a lot. But, you live and you learn. Everything you go through, everything you see and hear plays a part in the adult you become. I like to think that Florence’s music has helped me become a stable and decent 25 year old. It’s okay to have doubts. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to have ugly feelings. It’s okay to carry a bit of self doubt- but when it passes, you are greeted with this euphoric feeling that feels like a weight has been lifted. My realisation of this kicks in sometimes. Usually when I should be doing something else. It happened today on the bus at around 6:10pm whilst listening to What The Water Gave Me. When the last chorus kicks in- that’s when my realisation happened. There’s no doubt I’ll bawl like a baby when I see her for the fifth time in March next year.
A band or singer doesn’t have to have existed 20+ years or so for you to fully connect with them. When you can connect straight away, that’s when you know that the band or singer will be your life. The euphoric feeling their music gives you creates a huge tidal wave of realising the art of letting go, throwing yourself into the unknown and becoming the person you want to be. The person you owe yourself to be. Stop living for others, stop doing things to make others happy- you will resent them for it eventually- trust me, I know this far too well. But you’ve got to let go and do things for you; because nobody else will. Keep a firm grip on reality, but don’t let go of your dreams. Embrace the darker side of things- it will keep you in check.
Florence’s music puts a smile on my face, heart and soul. It eases my mind. It just makes everything in my life much better. It creates a focal point that other bands I love haven’t done so. Maybe it’s because her music was there at my lowest and is there at my best. I can listen to her music, and certain songs make me want to have my heart torn out so I feel the song even more than I already do. However, she has this wonderful gift of making YOU feel it- even if you haven’t gone through whatever the song evokes. The imagery she carves into your mind with her words is so ghastly and dark at times- she goes where others tend to shy away from. I love that her music can bring everyone together. You can be into Hip Hop or fucking awful generic manufactured Pop music- but part of you has such love for Florence + The Machine. Things like that are untouchable. If only people used music to bring people together rather than harming each other causing more of a gap between us all.
It’s not like anyone will have read this, but if you have- I apologise for boring you to death with my words. This has been flipping over and over in my head for the past few days, and it has come out in some kind of car crash fashion. One day, I will be eloquent with my words. I probably should’ve napped before I wrote this. There is so much more I could say, that I want to say- but it is probably for the best that I just keep it to myself.