I’ve posted here before about the unbreakable link in me—mental and emotional—between words and music. I hear it as I write, in the cadences and timbre of the passages. I write to an inner soundtrack. I hear the music in my taped playbacks.

And at last I have found a film that says about music exactly what I feel about words.

The film is It Might Get Loud: Have you seen it?

This extraordinary…damn, can I even call it a documentary?…takes us into the minds of three extraordinary guitarists: Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White. Did I write into the minds? I’d have been better to say that it takes us to a completely different planet.

I understand music. I feel it. With some small ability, I can make it with my voice—I revel the sound and the feeling as I life my voice into a room. I remember my mother playing piano to me before I was born; the sound of it through her body pressed against the keyboard. Even so, this film has made me understand, as nothing else ever has done, that music is a different language. A different understanding. A different way of seeing, of being. It is as alien as another planet. And just as wonder-making.

I recall a long-ago evening spent at the apartment of a couple of violinists from the NY Philharmonic. An unbelievable night. A lesson for life. I was amazed to hear these people listen in a way I’never had, despite my fair degree of musical sophistication. It was like hearing a beautiful and evocative language for the first time. It “skinned my eyes for me” as a character said in another favorite movie (“The Horse’s Mouth.”)

It Might Get Loud, in its artful wisdom, gives us musicians from three different generations—and, surprisingly, the eldest of them is not the one for whom the oldest music holds the greatest appeal. Each of the three men has something remarkable to share with us about the sounds in his head. For me, Jimmy Page’s experience of music comes as close to how I experience words as anything I have ever heard.

I don’t know how to explain that experience, the place where the words are the music; where that reality is the essence of the way you think, where the sound is all. I don’t really know how to share it with you. Except, perhaps, to play it for you. In words. And maybe that’s what books are for. It certainly is what being a writer is for.

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