Dear Josh: Reflections from a Letter

7.Dear Josh DODH.jpg

Josh Radnor,

Like a melody sung by a jester, some are stolen, some are your own…

These lyrics resonate with me, but that’s a fact I don’t share for fear that it would pull the strings and unveil all the details within my fabric – something which you kind Sir, form a part of…

…And of all the possible ways I could’ve woven you in there, it is your literary work that I grew a serendipitous affinity with; and by that of course, I’m referring to your 2014 letter: “DEAR DAMIEN RICE’S SEMINAL 2002 ALBUM O

Beyond a fan of your craft, your art or your work, I grew a literary affection and a pure affinity with the string of words right before me; sentences on a page so eloquently speaking a language I understood. Words put together which paralleled my own stream of thoughts, those I could never present so orderly or so daringly.
So I did the worst thing that anyone could, and that is, I co-opted the intangible; I took your words and wrapped them around my own.
Wherever relevant, I dabbed my pen in your ink (in fact, for better analogy, I took your pen from your drawer and then commenced with the ink dabbing, but let’s not get too metaphorical)

Where my words fell short, I subbed you in. Whenever I wanted to express my love for a particular art form, your letter was my reference. And just like that, I became the jester, singing a melody made up of words stolen, and some of my own.

I’ve never quite cracked why I chose to write my melody this way. I don’t think I’m a bad writer and I certainly don’t lack the creativity, it goes far beyond that though.

And I think I came one step closer to figuring it out just recently…

* * *

I recently went to an intimate concert, during which I was wholly hypnotized once more, and whilst listening to the songs, I fell in love all over again – in all its glory and heartbreak – with music. (I don’t mean that lightly, I do genuinely fall in love with it.) It’s a deep love affair I sometimes wish I never learnt to get into, but I get in deep nonetheless.

During this one particular song that was floating around me, I closed my eyes and had a thought… “If I had to be a song, I’d choose you…

Silly as it may sound, it was a real thought of a real feeling. I’d choose to be those lyrics, wrapped in that melody, coming from that voice; one belonging to an artist who is shrouded in all the scars from his own life and experiences, and sings with that achingly sincere hurt and melancholy that I fell for.

How I came to that conclusion was simple: in that moment I was so consumed by the music, I felt like I needed it… I loved it so much, that I wanted to become it… for nothing else would bring me as close to the music than the song itself…
The artist would never experience the song the way I did – they have their own personal interpretations of their own words; perhaps more profound, but not like mine. They witnessed it transforming in all its changing forms; from concept to conceptualisation. They feel it differently, love it differently: like a parent and their child. But my love was more adjacent to a lover admiring their muse in all its inconceivable beauty. So it would not be enough to have authored and owned the song, I still wanted to retain its second-hand magic from a listeners perspective.

With that thought, the next dot I connected to, was that of the muse; the inspiration behind the song. I’ve always wanted to be the bare backbones of someone else’s art, maybe that would be the best way to be close to the music. But true as that may be, I can’t imagine sharing that art with public would sit well with me. It would be something written for me, to me, by the said artist whom I’d naturally fall in love with if I weren’t already – my Achilles heel of sorts. (*I’m easy like dat*)
And therein lay the problem with that route; it would all get too personal as the muse. The reality is that the sentiment of the song would never stand apart from the artist; my thoughts, opinions and tolerance of the song would change (probably) as my relationship to the person would. The thing that I’d be missing is my relationship to the SONGintrinsically – void of biased attachments. Though this concept might be flawed, I went with it. And so by default, my search for the perfect liaison with the song had me out-ruling the option of anyone close to the artist; parents, children, friends, you name it – they’d all be too close to the artist to be able to love the song irrespective of them, free of judgment.

And so I reached my conclusion. I loved the song so much that it wasn’t enough to simply listen to it like everyone else did – because I felt that song first and so I felt that song truest. I wanted to be as close to it as I could without tainting my perception, perspective and interpretation of it as a listener. I wanted to BECOME the song.

And that right there, was the long-winded journey of how I came a little closer to figuring it all out…

Once I love something, I want to become it. Not just to have and to hold or to see or to listen or to read, but to become. (Wuthering Heights “I am Heathcliff” quote comes to mind.) That is my role as the jester.

And so when I read your words from your letter to the album – words that I felt so closely grasped my feelings too, like an extended sub-surrogate of sorts – I became it.
But this is me romanticising a lesser romantic notion: I stole your words. And the very least I could do, is to reach out to the one person in the world who could justly and honestly take pride in those string of words…


* * *

As for the letter itself; there truly is magic flowing in your pen. When I first read about your intimate liaison with Damien Rice’s album, I found myself repeating one thing: “Man, this is love. This is so badly love…” – words that still consistently follow whenever I re-encounter this letter, which neither time nor routine ever wears out. That secret rendezvous you surrendered yourself to; that Ode to album O… that was special. It’s a raw, honest, barefaced reflection. It’s the truth…and I’ve felt it.

I myself struggle with that kind of honesty as it always translates into some sort of devoted possessiveness, but how to describe it other than: this is love. With that love comes a silent ache for acknowledgement; that everyone knows you were there first and that in some way, your name is credited alongside its discussion, like some sort of devoted possessiveness. You want to tell everyone about it, but simultaneously wish that nobody knows of it. And finally, when the thing becomes bigger than you and moves on, there’s a tiny feeling of betrayal that pricks you… Your 28-year-old self was exploring the dark side of the moon that no one wants to talk about or acknowledge. Love is this. This is love.

Then again, perhaps there’s something more to the energy and attachments we project onto these external things. As much as these merciless attachments can be liberating, it can also have a way of anchoring our blues. It’s like having an obsession with chasing the rainbows end, instead of simply enjoying it and moving on. It can be beautiful, but it could also turn paralysing.

But I digress.

What I do wonder however, is if there are a few fleeting instances of subtle irritation that follows when someone comes along and so easily adopts your outlook…? An eyebrow-raising moment when they take your words, your experiences, your affiliations, and say that they relate to them. It’s almost like compiling your life’s work into a thesis, and someone else coming along and signing it off with a simple “me too” – … Because it’s odd if you think about it, that someone – in this case me – can relate to something so subjective. But in regards to your letter, I do. More than appreciate, more than understand… I feel it.

Perhaps that’s an overstep and beyond my entitlement to say that; it’s a very personal moment in history that’s being retold… it’s your skin I’m getting under and claiming to wear. It’s your heart on your sleeve that I’m putting my arm through. But there lies the magic in art. We are all a cluster of stardust and infinitely connected and this is another example of just that.

And so I should conclude my reaching out and admission of literary borrowing/ apology/analysis/alcoholics-anonymous-esk mental frolicking. With all of that, I believe that one of the kindest things anyone could do for someone else, is to make a genuine selfless wish for them…

As my parting words, I wish for you… (after health, longevity, peace and love, first and foremost) for your song to surpass your singing. Your words to outlive your writing. Though our bodies are bound by time, I wish for your mind to stay infinite. May you continue doing what you do for as long as you enjoy doing it. And may you enjoy doing it, only forever. Amen.

I suspect that one day I’ll be writing to your seminal work – a letter to the thing I wish I’d written – and such, is the circle of life.

Yours mentally,

 Diary of a Deluded Heart

P.s, If ever you wished to partake in a great journal exchange (which should be a thing), I’d love to reserve the right to call dibs on yours first! For some people, their words are a treasure to discover, and yours should never remain buried. 

Diary of a Deluded Heart

Written: April 2nd 2016
Published: June 27th 2016


3 thoughts on “Dear Josh: Reflections from a Letter

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