This post is about the power of words, music and creativity as a means of expression and healing of trauma. Music has always been present in my life but it was now in hard moments when it has helped me the most, and I’m showing in this post how healing through Pearl Jam Black is possible. I couldn’t begin this journey with other group than Pearl Jam. Eddie and his heartbreaking voice woke up my love for music back in 1991 the first time I heard the words “Jeremy spoke in, spoooke in … Jeremy spoke in… class todayyyy”. I remember thinking: “Wtf! Who the hell is singing and where is his voice coming from?!!”.
It was the starting point for my desire to understand what the song meant, and then I started listening to other bands whose music was also appealing for me. Some of these bands were Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure and basically any foreign band from the 90’s.
Looking back I had no idea of English, there were no mp3 players, no internet, no money to buy albums and read the lyrics (only if luckily the artists included them on the album). Neither “wordreference” existed nor did I have any idea about English phonetics… But despite that, I knew I wanted to discover what Eddie Vedder was saying with that voice that moved the bottom of my soul and tore it without knowing why. How was possible to feel so much even without understanding the meaning?
So I used to spend whole afternoons and evenings recording programmes from Radio3 where those bands I liked were broadcasted. Some were considered “grunge” and others classical rock that I had always heard thanks to my mother and my aunts and uncles. But I listened and listened to songs, and used to sing what I understood but without saying anything in particular of course, and I also watched the videos on TV while trying to find out the meaning of the lyrics through the video images… hahaha. Thinking about it now, it was a good observation activity, although some of them, now that I know the songs meanings, are completely different stories than the ones I figured out on my mind with just the images and the music hahaha but I tried my best 😀
Later, when I had money to buy the first CD I bought “Ten” by Pearl Jam, and I remember also running to get home quickly to play it in my room and listen to all the songs together. I don’t know … it was… just amazing. This can only be understood by someone who would freak out with music. Then, the next thing I did was recording the album into a cassette and one by one, starting by my favourite songs first, I wrote every verse that I understood the song said, and when I hadn’t any idea about what that pronunciation was telling me, I could only write exactly the sounds I was hearing and underline them to know that those parts weren’t clear for me.
After that, the translation work started and with a dictionary in hand – I insist we didn’t have the Internet and English at school was really basic – I went on translating the lyrics and I soon found out the meaning – the literal one– that sometimes was difficult to fully understand… OMG, I’ve just realised I was only 12 years old! Damn! Nowadays kids at twelve play videogames and look for pokemon instead of loving music or reading, and I was trying to understand the sometimes abstract and metaphorical meanings that Eddie Vedder was imprinting in his songs. It was difficult, but I like to think that precisely because of that, I began to understand the beauty that hid behind those verses that didn’t have a literal meaning. It was the moment I realized I wanted to know even more and I wanted to learn the language too, because I deeply wanted to understand all those feelings that composers expressed in their songs through the words. For me this was fascinating, and actually still is.
It was like totally abstracting yourself from reality and diving in the ocean of firstly incomprehensible words and by consequently translating them, being able to find the sense of the feelings that whoever had written them wanted to express. Again, I insist, fascinating and absorbing! I used to translate songs for hours, and I still do nowadays when a song “resonates” in any special way. I will always think that those songs are there for me, since they arrive in the exact moment after hearing them for months just “liking” them, there suddenly comes a day when something changes and you feel a “need” to deepen on them, and surprisingly – or not – they always, always have something to tell that me that I need to hear. I usually say they “talk” to me.
Following this, every Pearl Jam song I’ve been listening to all over the years should “talk” to me continuously – although I have to say that they are with no doubt the most linked band on my Facebook profile – but it doesn’t work like that. I’m talking about a different feeling, a different consciousness about the deep meaning which resonates in me. I needed to explain this because this is the case of this song, entitled “Black”. I’ve listened to it so many times and every time I found it as a devastating heartbreak song, which expresses very well the way he was seeing his reality when everything started to go wrong. This blog is basically going to contain songs that for whatever reason they feel like talking to me hahaha, together with a drawing from those feelings and awareness which awake from that attentive listening. I’ll try to do my best when explaining the drawings and choosing the exact best words for the experience.
What I really wish with this exercise is for you to be able to feel what I felt when I listened to any song, or to experience the songs in a very different way that you use to do. You may want to know what is all this about, so I need to explain the difference between understand and feel a song. On one hand, we can “understand” the song meaning and even “empathize” and believe that we can be able to feel what it says. On the other hand, we can really experience in our flesh and our soul what that song exactly says. To sum up, and from my point of view, we can understand OR feel any song. Thus, I wanted to start the blog with this song because I had never realized the power that songs (those which are good) have to trigger such a deep connection and understanding within a person listening. You finally see yourself and your situation reflected on those words and metaphors, and you feel relieved that someone can “understand” how you feel at that moment. It’s like adding words and sounds to your feelings.
Today I have no desire of explaining everything my ex has done to me, but I will when the time comes or I need to express anything from the past. I believe it is enough to say that when someone makes you believe you are the person of his life, he wants a future with you, he wants to marry, wants children, he makes you feel unique every day, makes you feel loved, when you DO believe he is ” your person” but, suddenly one day, you discover that everything is far from reality, because he has built the relationship from the lie, about his life, his work and his studies, his past and his relationships, and he has cheated on you not only with one woman but also more, and for several months of living together. Then, when you find out about everything, you decide to give him a chance because you really loved him and you indeed did it more than your own life, so you want to fight for what you thought was a valid relationship and for who you thought that was worthy, and because your character is more the “fight” than the “flight” type, so you decide to fight for the relationship. Then, not only he leaves you but also runs away, he doesn’t fight, he leaves you alone in the same shit that he alone created, doesn’t give you any explanations about why or if he used you despicably, he goes as the ostrich and doesn’t face the reality of what he has done to you, he just begins to stop talking to you overnight, he doesn’t answer your texts, says he is busy, or not paying attention to the mobile, he doesn’t want to talk to you anymore, he still lies to you and to everyone about me and what I do, and about what I say he did and said. After the last “civilised” conversation when he behaved like a completely mean and rude person, he takes just two weeks to start a relationship with another girl different than the other “three” he cheated on you with. And he hasn’t got the courage to tell you so you hear about the new relationship because I was brave enough to contact one of the girls who I found out he had deceived like me because he made her believe that there was something special going on between them that certainly wasn’t …. Well, finally I’ve used too many lines but at least it came out. lol.
It may seem to some that this is just “platitudes”, that happens to everybody, that it is not so bad, and it could have been worse, that I luckily discovered early in the relationship and so on… I know that in my past relationships I also spent my phases of pain, but none of them were quite comparable to what I felt last year. Ok if I seem exaggerated, it is what it is, at least for me, but I know what I felt and how I did it, and those who know me can tell that when I love I really do with all my heart and soul. This is what I am. I don’t believe myself to be an exaggerated person, on the contrary, I was the kind of closed and reserved at the time to show my feelings and especially when showing my vulnerability, those moments I considered weaknesses before; the crying, the grief, the loss, and also the need to seek for help. But that is over now. I have a heart and I feel because I am alive. Yes, and I’m proud to feel both the joy of love and the agony of deceit, or pity for all those lacking this quality of life and that makes them wearing nothing but their body and facade, being an empty shell of a human being.
I’m not an exaggerated person. I AM NOT. But I think that neither with the lyrics of the song, nor the drawing nor these words of mine that represent my feelings, would be enough for anyone not only to understand what I felt, but also feel what I felt, and the difficulty increases if you hadn’t undergone it before. To help you “feel” I’m going to try to express with words what I felt.
And what I felt was that I was dying. Breathlessness. Lack of oxygen. Incomprehension. Sudden darkness. That everything I had been before ceased to exist because it was fast being replaced by darkness. A darkness that reminded you of the vastness of the universe or “the nothing” from the movie “The Neverending Story” and you couldn’t escape nor move nor walk anywhere because you are blind now to see the exit somewhere. That what I had loved like my life, or more, had betrayed me. BETRAYAL. DEEP BETRAYAL. A black hole that absorbs all the light that existed until that moment. Confusion, hatred, anger, grief …. DEVASTATION. complete destruction of my being and my life. Chest pain and in the heart, and I’m talking about a real physical sensation, like the knot in the stomach as if a supernatural force were grabbing and pulling it to tear it off. NAUSEA. Like literally feeling that the heart is broken or torn into thousands of pieces that correspond to all those moments that were happy but they stop having the sense they had forever. I can not explain this in a different way, but it feels like it breaks your soul. That somebody has reached the depths of your being to attack you with swords stuck in your back by the cowardice of not knowing how to do things face to face. DESOLATION. ANNIHILATION. PAIN. DEATH. Wanting to die because the pain is unbearable (and again I’m talking about the physical sensation of pain and the savage tightness in the chest). IMMENSE RAGE AND HATE.
I have tried to capture this in the drawing you can see in this entry and thanks to the song “Black” and its lyrics that helped me to see that what I feeling wasn’t impossible, that my life had changed overnight because the person who I believed would be my “partner-in-crime” had betrayed me and my life had dyed black, and not only my life but also my whole being, my soul, which was going to be continually pushed into that world of deep darkness where light dwelt not. Every happy moment lived before lost their light and love because of the lie of deception and betrayal and I had to devote myself to collect the bits of what I was/ we were as if it were pieces of glass. Those events that previously provided you happiness and laughter, like being surrounded by joy and family and friends for example, caused you pain because the illusion of what they had been was absolutely destroyed… and because you thought you could never get anything so wonderful, or well, you strongly believe that you weren’t that worthy. Trying to bring order to the chaos inside yourself and realizing that, for the first time ever, you can’t, because you don’t have the answers, because they weren’t given to you, and you think and think again trying to understand something that will never be understood – at least for me is incomprehensible – that is the fact that how is possible that a person who says to “love” forever, is otherwise able to hurt you so brutally at the same time and then run and look away leaving you with the feeling that everything you’ve done and delivered by love has no worth at all. Leaving you empty. Torn. Broken. VAST EMPTINESS. Everything feels Herculean, out of proportion, brutal, heart-rending. Thoughts move, no, they run freely in your consciousness and you are not able to control them, like a tornado vortex they surround you and bewilder you, they knock you down and push you hard into that hole, and indeed you want to jump into that boundless black void and stop existing and end your life. Because the feeling is unbearable. Because you don’t understand, you won’t never understand it. How after someone has hurt you so badly and has “gifted” you with more sorrow than you ever thought you could put up with; even so, you are still able to wish him well and you wonder why he can’t be with you if you love him more than your own life. And it’s like being in a continuous war with yourself and your feelings and conscience because you have to force yourself not to love because rationally, you know that’s no good for you and you also know that everything is gone forever.
SORRY, sorry if I seem harsh or raw or exaggerated or not understood, or well… I’m not sorry. This is what it is. This is what has been to leave that relationship and how I felt. AS A MINUSCULE ENTITY IN THE VASTNESS OF A REALITY OF DARKNESS WHERE YOU CANT SEE THE LIGHT NOR YOU FIND A SENSE TO ANYTHING, EVEN BREATHING BECAUSE EVERY INHALATION IS A STAB IN YOUR SELF-ESTEEM AND IN YOUR SOUL. I read it now and I’m not surprised by these words, I don’t know if anyone might be surprised by them. I am aware that my ex will have used this state he has placed me, to justify abandoning me without any worries, because “poor him” was brought under a lot of pressure when I asked questions trying to understand his reasons for what he did, and from his point of view, of course, I’m not very well in my head if I feel all this, I have to have the problem because he is not able to feel the same way I do. You’ll finally do, I’m sure.. but I don’t care anymore.
The verses that I have taken from the song to include in the drawing are the following:
“And all the love gone bad, turned my world black, tattooed all I see, all that I am, all that I’ll be.” And even if I know that everything happens for a reason, and that the past is past and the present is the only future now, and that I know that I’ll heal, I also know that there is “something” that will be part of me forever, the part that nothing is what it seems and free damage exists and some people do not feel anything at all and they act without thinking in the others.
Here you can watch the unplugged performance for Mtv, that for me is one of the best for this song.
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And the lyrics go like this:
Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did.
All five horizons revolved around her soul as the earth to the sun
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn
Ooh, and all I taught her was everything
Ooh, I know she gave me all that she wore
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds of what was everything.
Oh, the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…
I take a walk outside, I’m surrounded by some kids at play
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
Oh, and twisted thoughts that spin round my head, I’m spinning, oh,
I’m spinning, how quick the sun can drop away
And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass of what was everything
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything…
All the love gone bad turned my world to black
Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I’ll be… yeah…
Uh huh… uh huh… ooh…
I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life,
I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky,
But why, why, why can’t it be, can’t it be mine?
Too doo doo too, too doo doo [many times until fade]