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[ Personal Narratives ]

Eli Writes — Music Saved My Life

As I write this blog post my mother is out of town in Chicago seeing her all time favorite band, U2, with my sister Valerie. She absolutely loves U2 and Bono especially, which I can relate to. When I was around 15, I was unquestionably devoted to a band called Bring Me The Horizon. If you’re over 20, I’m going to assume you don’t know who this band is. They’re actually very popular. They hail from Sheffield, Yorkshire, and the music they play, according to wikipedia at least, is called metalcore. To the layperson or ignorant soccer mom, this is almost 100% of the time referred to as screamo. I always thought it was more than that, though, which is why I listened to it. It extremely accurately reflected my internal struggle and agony when I was a (younger) teenager, and the fact that the band employs extensive use of screaming is what really did it for me. I think this is common for many kids who listen to the type of music – if you take a second to delve deeper past the wall of noise and listen to the lyrics, and listen to how the lyrics are delivered, it starts to make sense. At least, it made sense to me. These were people who were sick. Sick of society, sick of expectations, sick of living the way they were. Well, so was I.

Though it seemed melodramatic when I looked at it objectively, the singer and the rest of Bring Me The Horizon fantastically expressed what I myself was too afraid to express. And that’s why I was so drawn to them. I loved the use of profanity, the chugging guitar riffs, the screaming that filled my ears until I was sure that the singer’s throat bled. It filled my need to scream until my throat bled with the injustice of the world, but it was a safe place. I think my mom has a similar experience with U2. I’ve never really cared for U2 – they aren’t nearly intense enough for me – but I can tell that the music makes her feel alive, and I think that a lot of artists make music to either make themselves or others feel alive. So obviously U2 is succeeding. I’m just happy my mother found a band that makes music that inspires her, gets her on her feet, and makes her feel alive. I know the feeling of longing to feel alive, to know that someone else feels the way you do, and I think it’s filled for everyone in different ways, but I’m delighted that so many people are able to find solace in music.

When I was 16, my favorite lyrics came from a band called Whitechapel that makes music one can only describe as violent. Without having to look them up, three years later I still remember them. “We are the disease that spreads amongst this filthy race. Coprophagia is the only solution. Open your fucking mouth and ingest what you are.” I also loved a song by Chelsea Smile, a band that takes their name from a torture method that gave The Joker his notoriety, called Recreant. “You are dead to me.” Simple as that.

Seems like everything in my life until now is linked to why me, an extremely intelligent, suburban white kid, who came from a home devoid of alcoholism or sexual abuse or whatever else you expect to go along with drug use; started using heroin. Heroin, the drug that held a stigma so powerful friends would immediately pull away, rumors would circulate, relationships would crumble. It’s simple, when I look back at it. I couldn’t fucking stand it. I couldn’t fucking stand living in the world I viewed as filthy, cancerous, repugnant. My only way to fight back was to either recreate Columbine or lose myself in a numbing agent so powerful it would take over my entire life. Whether that statement is true or not, that’s certainly how I felt and that’s what ended up happening. I guess my stereotypical adolescent angst just went a little further than most people’s. I’ve always felt stuff so strongly, and it was a mistake for others to say “it’s just part of growing up.” Is it really? Is that why I plunge razor blades into my flesh and watch the dark red blood seep out with a twisted satisfaction? Is that why I can’t go to school without being on three different drugs at the same time? Is that why I look around every morning in school and feel permanently cut off, imprisoned in my sphere of detached reality?

I couldn’t stand it and music helped me express that which I was too confused and too tormented to express. I think music saved my life, really. It didn’t stop me from falling into drug addiction, but it saved my life. I knew that somebody, somewhere, in this world I thought so fucking filthy felt the same way I did. That was enough to keep me going.

I still listen to this type of music, sometimes. Not very often, but sometimes. I really do hope one day I can listen to Pink Floyd and U2 and be satisfied with that, because it seems to be a much happier way to live. My mother is so excited! She’s so excited to drive to Chicago and see Bono sing his songs and be close to him. Sounds inspiring, doesn’t it? I bet she doesn’t look at Bono and think life isn’t worth living. She probably reminds herself life is worth living when the music is roaring in her ears and she’s jumping up and down, ecstatic to see her favorite artist. That’s the message he seems to spread, after all. Shame it seems so hard for me to get out of my nihilistic music tastes, but I do hope one day I’ll be able to graduate to normal people music. There’s still passion in normality. I just need to remember that. Sincere apologizes for the morbid post, this is just where I am most of the time.

I’ll leave you with some lyrics that reflect how I’m feeling at the moment.

Logic (Buried Alive)

Yeah, I know

Imma take my time

Battle the image inside of my mind

I know, Imma keep going

Tell me I can’t but I’m already knowing

I know, I’m gonna rise

Even though I’ve been buried alive