if one only remembers to turn on the light."
— Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
A group of my friends are seeking post-election solace in rehashing the death of democracy. But I struggle with their solution for catharsis. I prefer a moratorium on media, so I can sit Shiva in silence.
Throughout this childish campaign, the memories of schoolyard bullies, name calling and blackballing resurfaced. The juvenile saying “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me” taunted because words can hurt. Words have meaning. Words have weight, depth and breadth. Words can alter public opinion. Words can sway an election. Words stick. And, whether I like it or not, words are a writer’s bread and butter.
Now, in my post-election gloom, the irony for this writer is that I feel compelled to block out the words. Ban the broadcasts. Smother the sound bites. Nullify the noise from reporters, pundits and polls. If only I could expunge all reminders of the 2016 election and embrace the sounds of silence. All I want is to savor the solitude, shun CNN, avoid NPR and discard the Times. Blessedly, the Boston Globe is devoted mostly to sports and local news.
And then it hit me, I don’t have to suffer in silence; I can rework my playlists. I can choose music—sans words. Orchestral music. Instrumental music. Old music. New music. Wordless phrases.
My post-election playlist begins with the instrumental version of Paint it, Black used as a backdrop for a stunning, yet disturbing, slo-mo scene from the opening episode of Westworld, HBO’s new TV series. Westworld is set in a dystopian universe where wealthy vacationers retreat from reality into a replica of the wild, wild west and frolic among lifelike robots who fulfill every fantasy. And right now, the orchestral version of the Rolling Stones hit song, Paint it Black, is fulfilling my fantasies (even if my concentration strays occasionally with visions of Mick Jagger dancing on stage). Fantasies aren’t banned in Boston by the far right yet, are they?
As work progressed on my Dark Days playlist, I noticed subtle changes in tone. Sure, the beginning includes the theme from that blackguard, Darth Vader, and the pirate’s song from the Curse of the Black Pearl. Lots of doom and gloom there. But as I added tunes, my mood modulated from grief to sadness, low-pitched to raucous, ebon to blue, and a surprise finale that booted me out of the darkness. Maybe next week, I'll even be able to listen to a few words. God only knows.
Post-election Instrumental Playlist
- Westworld Soundtrack - Paint It, Black – Ramin Djawadi
- Darth Vader’s Theme Song, The Imperial March from Star Wars – John Williams
- Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean (Suite) – Klaus Badelt
- Buena Vista Social Club, Instrumental (Chan Chan Tribute) – Duo Musica è
- Hallelulah (Leonard Cohen Tribute) – Lang Lang
- Green Onions – Booker T and the MGs
- Rhapsody in Blue (George Gershwin) – Leonard Bernstein, New York Philharmonic
- A Taste of Honey – Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
- You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, Instrumental – The Wrecking Crew
- Soul Finger (ok, it has two words in it) – The Bar-Kays
- Purple Haze (Jimmy Hendrix) – Two Cellos
- Light My Fire (Official Instrumental, Remastered) – The Doors