The Beauty of Music in a Broken World

I had never written about music until Pat from Monster Riff gave me a chance a few years ago. At the time, I was simply looking for extra money in between jobs, and Pat offered payment for stoner rock reviews. I figured, why not? I’d always been a big music fan, I knew a bit about stoner bands like Clutch and Fu Manchu, and I was confident enough in my writing abilities to do a decent job.

Since then, I’ve delved deeper into the music blogging world, and it’s been incredibly fun. I still don’t know enough about the technical aspects of music to write good reviews, so I rely on my sheer enthusiasm for the art. I also figure most underground bands are happy enough to get some press that they may not care that my reviews kind of suck.

But that’s not exactly what I wanted to discuss in this more personal post/essay. Instead, I want to focus on how throwing myself into the stoner/psych-rock music community (online, at least) has helped me cope with a world that, right now, feels beyond broken.

I’ve always been somewhat of a news junkie. I studied journalism in college, worked in newspapers covering politics at times, and recently left a job as a journalist at a trade publication. While I’ve drastically limited my news media intake in recent months, I still have a general idea of the world’s chaos. War in Ukraine, mass shootings nearly once a week, a political scene in America, and most other places that looks like a three-ring circus. It’s ugly.

The mass shootings are what hit me hardest. I don’t understand America’s obsession with guns and never will. Last year, the shooting at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, sent me into a deep depression. By then, I was running the Third Eye blog and was somewhat distracted. But I admit I read far too much about Uvalde and the sheer brutality of it. I got into pointless Twitter arguments and worked myself up.

Since then, I’ve backed off my news consumption. I figure that if people still defend gun culture after innocent kids are slaughtered, things will never change. And they probably won’t. I should’ve realized this after Sandy Hook, but I guess I paid more attention to Uvalde for some reason. But I digress and don’t want to start any pointless gun control debates. My main point is this: the power of the arts, whether music, film, or literature, can help me channel my sense of woe in the world. Previously, I did this via writing fiction and poetry, but lately, it has been through running this music blog.

Music can be political, but it can also be an escape. Some would argue that with so much injustice, maybe I should join a cause and fight back. But I’ve become deeply cynical of collective human nature. The world’s always been broken and always will be. We take one step forward and then seemingly many steps back. The power and beauty of something like music can help us distract ourselves from this mess. We can also channel the rage against the world into this art form, which reminds me of an interview I had with a band called Beware of Gods and why doom metal is perfect for our era.

Should I be more active in political affairs? Perhaps. But this is not really my style, nor was it ever. And since starting this blog last year, I’ve found that music and the community of bands and blogs can be a powerful tonic. Will World War III break out? Who knows, not that there’s much we can do to stop it. But I know one thing for sure: In the meantime, I will enjoy listening to what underground bands are creating.

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