Family can be a strange and awkward thing to write about. Not my family personally, but just the idea of family. It is hard to capture an idea of it without coming off like I’m writing the end of a 90s sitcom, you know when they quiet the laugh track and the characters are being vulnerable. It might just be how it is, an intense quiet vulnerability where discussing it is going to take sincerity.
In the mix I created I wanted to go beyond songs about family or songs with the word family in the title (I included one, but it’s the Cranberries and R.I.P Dolores). The details of what other people might be referencing when they talk about families are auxiliary to the feelings that I get from songs that make me think of mine. The songs I chose and the feelings they illicit are my vision of family.
Some of us share our intimacies with our families, memories, space and time. I’m using the word family liberally. The idea of family isn’t always biological — it is an attraction — a declaration of affinity for people. Family for me is permanent in reflection. Even if we don’t speak and i reflect on you, feeling that love that bounced between us at one point in time, I consider you family.
The sensation of music is stronger than scent for me, I can hear something be lift into a memory. What music generates in me and imagining what an artist might be referencing with sound is something I think about a lot. Not what they are referencing with their lyrical content or aesthetic imagery, just the sounds they create. I think about it because I fill the feelings those sounds give me with my own sensibilities. My sensibilities are probably a lot different than the ones that made them generate the sounds or maybe the same ones, I don’t know. Without lyrical and aesthetic references, music is unable to communicate meaning. It loses context and elicits in the listener something pure. I experience the people I refer to as my family in the same way, they can have context and meaning to me but there is something inexplicable about my attraction to them and then a subsequent connection to them.
The sounds that remind me of my family are like empty spaces my body once occupied. The corner of a parking garage, on the staircase of a house I no longer live in, someones bed I once shared. They are like these spaces because if I think about them for long enough I can revisit my past and be clear about my future. In knowing and experiencing this I get an inevitable corny, vulnerable, sentimental, and sincere wave of feelings. This is how I feel about my family, about those who I deign as family. I’m lucky that I’ve fought being cynical about family, with all of its disappointments and cruel optimism. I’m glad I didn’t turn out like some pomade jaw tightener with an emotional rope drawn so tight around my ego that I’ve garnered an asphyxiating distance dependency. Even though it sounded good in my early 20s it strikes as dull in my early 30s. I’m a willow blown about by any memory that passes me by, so this mix stands in testament to it, enjoy.
This playlist is part of Collection: A Family, a release by TAGTAGTAG exploring photographic works on the ideas surrounding contemporary families.