2am with a song you love changes you, it transforms you.
It's hard to get to that place where you're.... transformable. Most likely, you're asleep. Or if you're awake, you're on Instagram, looking at some person you don't know or some person you used to know. Or you're flicking through the TV, looking for an answer to something even though you're not quite sure of the question.
But the right song changes you.
It's hard to say what that song is. It might be your all time favourite song, or it might be something brand new. Most likely, it's something in-between. An alt-cut of something that feels familiar.
That's how it got me tonight. Tom Petty, who was very much the soundtrack to everything for me. Turns out, there's a lot more of him in the vault. I'm listening to 'Wildflowers and all the Rest' and 'Finding Wildflowers'. Two separate albums, revisiting the sessions and materials from 'Wildflowers'.
And my attention, somehow, was not being pulled to anywhere other than these recordings.
It's transformative to REALLY listen, to really be taken away, because it's such a rarity to really sit in a moment with a song. Used to be common, now it's practically a superpower. To truly give yourself over to the sound of a guitar and a voice is a true rarity. Your brain, so caught up in wanting more value, more money, more content, continually chases.... something.
Somehow, we believe that listening to recordings of old songs is not crucial.
But it's absolutely crucial. Not so you can 'be inspired' and not so you can write a blog called '10 Great Tom Petty songs', but crucial because in these moments of listening and letting go, you become truly yourself. You find a part of you you've been letting drift for years.
It's not like you listen to a song at 2am and suddenly solve past traumas and figure out how to become rich, but something DOES happen. Something big enough to pay attention to but small enough to be something imperceptible enough that I can't really put it into words.
And this is not me saying you should go listen to Tom Petty. Likely it's someone different for you.
But Tom Petty, to me, is everything. He captures something that no-one else does. And here I am listening to this dead genius and there's something about these alt-cuts and home recordings that feels so..... so personal.
I can't imagine Tom Petty tweeting all night about his song-writing. Don't imagine him Instagramming non-stop. Instead, I imagine him in his home, working on songs. In the modern day, we do a draft or two of something creative, and then we tell the world. But I can just see Tom Petty sitting there, at home, obsessing over a lyric or playing something on his guitar repeatedly trying to get it right. He took the music making seriously, I can feel it as I listen.
It reminds me that it's okay to care deeply. It's okay to know your art is the most important thing you can be doing.
The music you listen to can transform your thinking and feeling. It won't suddenly give you a profound life lesson, but it will shift something inside you - and that's important. This is how you lived life when you were fifteen. You'd play a song and just listen, taking it in. You'd sit with it and you'd feel more complete. It wasn't a big thing you shouted from the rooftops, it was just a subtle experience you'd have in your bedroom, listening to something that was meaningful to you.
The same experiences are still available. The only problem is you're busy, and have responsibilities. But if sometime soon you find yourself awake at 2am, maybe it's just your body's way of saying: you need to find the right song.