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Gotta' love

I am sitting on a train to Helsinki, writing a letter to a friend. A gentleman, a bit older than me is sitting on the seat beside me, I do my best not to disturb him. I write on, a passage after another, and then stop for a moment to reflect on what I've already written and what I would like to write next. "Excuse me" says the gentleman, and points to a sign on the wall. The sign says: "The Who's hit song My Generation was written on a train". And the gentleman asks: "Do you happen to be writing the next 'My Generation', a future hit song?". I flash a humble smile, telling him that I'm writing just a personal letter, but that I am on my way to see a concert. "Oh, may I ask which band are you going to see?". "Ah, it is Mariska & Pahat Sudet. Actually, the band quit nearly five years ago, so this will be a special concert." He admits that he isn't so very familiar with Mariska's music, and I realize that I don't feel like going into details why I like her music. So we go on discussing bands he likes. He mentions names like Cyber Space and Galactic Warriors. Spacesynth, sounds interesting! I write the names down.

At Helsinki I have a few hours of spare time before the concert. I meet a friend, we have a dinner and enjoy an unhurried discussion. He helps me to find the venue, and gives tips on how to get back to the railway station after the concert. The venue is nice, not too big. I arrive early, there aren't that many people around. While waiting for the first band to begin I drink a pint of beer, and then go waiting near the stage. All the instruments are ready at the stage. In one corner there are the keyboards for Mariska's band, arranged in a L-shape. The opening band is a duo of two yound ladies - to get to the stage they crawl under the set of keyboards. They briefly introduce themselves; "Next it is going to be half an hour of pop music by a band called Maustetytöt".

Yes, the opening band is Maustetytöt, an indie duo I last saw in the summer, playing for a handful of audience on a tiny festival in a countryside village. Half a year later they are opening for a sold-out concert of a major Finnish band. Apparently, I am not the only one who has been impressed by their talent, lyrics, humour and attitude. If I get it correctly, they now have a professional manager who has good contacts with the music business, but otherwise they refuse to work with main record labels, so I think we can still count them as 'indie'. I'm glad for them having more recognition and getting to play for bigger audiences. On the video their performance might seem ridiculously simple - but I'd guess that is part of the concept. They craft their own version of the stereotypical Finnish style of minimalistic expression, the lyrics are often about ordinary people lost in their lives, in more or less miserable condition. (The song I linked is about a mental hospital. The lyrics go like 'It doesn't matter if I go to the east or to the west, as in the end I'll anyway return here in the hospital'. A rather sad song, isn't it? Yet the way they perform it gives it a merciful coating of humour. I don't know but this combination seems to be something a lot of Finnish people like. It is easy to relate to. The more we have hype about winning and success, the more relieving it is to hear the voices of those who simply aren't on the winning side of the table. And, personally, I do remember those years when I was in a rather miserable condition myself, feeling suicidal and downing anti-depressants with a sip of red wine - now it feels great to dance to songs which gently describe such conditions. Again, I am not the only one who likes Maustetytöt, as the audience cheers and claps until the duo returns to play encore.

In preparation for Mariska's band a stage techician places two bottles of water for each musician. He even pre-openes the bottles, carefully letting the pressure out so that the carbonated water won't accidentally spill out when the musician feels like drinking water. I think to myself that this is professional - after years of experience people know all the details which need to be taken care of. Well, then Mariska's old band Pahat Sudet enters the stage. A drummer, a bass player, a keboard player, and Mariska herself as vocalist. Just like Maustetytöt, Mariska crawls under the set of keyboards to get to her position in the middle of the stage. And how she is radiant! She smiles with a spark in her eyes and greets the audience. It is about ten years since they formed the band Pahat Sudet, and five years since they quit. So they had decided to play this one show just to celebrate the good old times. (Also, I think it is Mariska's 40th birthday, one more reason to celebrate together with the fans.) The band members joke with each other, they play freely, feeding energy to each other. And Mariska dances and smiles while singing. I'm glad to hear them play Matkalla manalaan, for it is the song which made me a Mariska fan. Actually, for me this is not just a pop song, but one of the key elements in my slow recovery from severe depression. Well, the concert goes on, the audience dances, cheers, claps and sings along, there more joking and smiles and also an encore.

After the show I quickly ponder my options. I have not arranged a place to sleep at in Helsinki, but I do have a key to friend's flat at Tampere. It would be tempting to dance a bit more - but I notice myself being low on social energies, instead of staying at the venue with the other fans I just leave quickly. I take a subway back to the central railway station, just in time to catch the last train to Tampere. In the train I have time to think;

It was probably some six years ago when I first heard the song Matkalla Manalaan. Around those times I was still rather depressed, and I had understood a central cause and an effect of my depression was my inner sense of isolation. When I went to therapy, I could calmly describe my past and all the traumatic events, and one time the therapist said "I don't understand why you don't cry when you tell such things, you don't show any sing of emotion, why is that?" and I was like "Well, sir, this is the very problem I'm seeking therapy for, and I was hoping for you to help me sort it out." I mean, I felt like being disconnected from my own emotions. Where the emotions are supposed to be I felt only a dark unseen blob of ice. And, because of that, I also felt that nothing could touch my emotional side, there was a total lack of emotional contact and communication. I could only describe myself from the outside, not feel my emotions from the inside. That was the problem I was trying to solve, but it was pretty hard to get any grip of it. Then, suddenly, there was this one song which felt like making a contact with my emotions. Tapping some of my core experiences, the depths of my soul.

The lyrics are based on the old Finnish pagan traditions, using shamanistic metaphors. In the shamanistic experience a portion of human soul can leave the body and travel to another layers of reality, seeking pieces of information which would not be otherwise available. And the most challenging layer is The Netherworld, where the spirits of the dead ancestors dwell. Only a few shamans could travel there and return back with a piece of information. Mariska's song mentions a dire situation; both in personal life, and also globally a disaster looms and to avoid that we need a piece of wisdom which can only be found in The Netherworld. So, come with me, let's dive there, to seek the wisdom! And the song is daring enough to mention what is the wisdom found: "Gotta' love!"

Sounds simple? Yes, it is, but I like it because of that =) In my own life I remember those late teenage years of deep existential angst, when I was pondering what is the whole point of existence in general. Is there a reason to be? As I was pondering that, I asked myself why are stars, planets and forms of life born if they are doomed to be destroyed. Why bother? Wouldn't it be easier just not to be born? I was diving deeper and deeper into that abyss of non-meaning, until I hit something solid. "The Sun shines". Simple as that. I felt my soul filled with joy, love and meaning. I kept on thinking about these themes for years to come, realizing that if I approach the questions of existence and death from the point of view of my finite separate ego, things indeed won't make any sense. Existence is rather pointless and then we die. But what is the ego which gets born, exists and dies? Is it really a separate entity with some sharp and exact contours in space and time? My body exists on sole condition of constant exchange of energy with the external world, particles flow in and out all the time. My mind is a collection of perceptions and memories, a collection of thoughts I don't know where I've learned them from, a bunch of emotions I don't know where they arise from, decorated with a few ideas which seem like my own inventions but which I can't actually say how they were born - so, after all, both my body and mind seems to be like waves of an ocean; recognizable yet temporary shapes of greater existence with no definite boundaries. Diving into these thoughts turned into a some sort of mystic experience, where my consciousness felt like integrating into the Cosmic Being, The Everything. Seen from that perspective, every speck of existence feels deeply meaningful, full of beauty, so that I was left feeling unconditional compassion towards everything that exists. Gotta' love! Such an experience is a definite answer to any kind of existential doubt, an instant remedy to depression and trauma. It made me want to leave behind ways of revenge and hatred, and to furher develop skills of diplomacy and kindness. Sure, at those times I felt like holding the secret keys to solve the ultimate crisis of the human condition. Yet I felt that the essence of this wisdom can't be translated into any theory, not into any fixed set of moral values, not into any number of commandments. If translated to words, the experience and the wisdom becomes something ridiculously simple like 'Gotta' love!'. Yet those experiences saved my personal life and kept me alive through the long heavy years of suicidal depression. And, eventually, Mariska's song struck chord with that deep layer of my emotional memories, suddenly making a contact where I thought no contact was possible. From that on it gradually became easier and easier for me to feel my emotions, to show my emotions, to share my emotions and to feel emotionally connected with fellow beings - which means; feeling less depressed.

And, back to the actual song. I like the way it is a danceable pop-song. That brings the old shamanistic and mystic themes into the contemporary world. One way to see it goes something like this; imagine thousand years ago in pagan Finland a shamanistic ritual with some drumming and maybe dancing around fire would've been normal, a cultural phenomenon folks are familiar with, something which has always been there. Now, in 2010 Finland if you wish to apply some of those age-old shamanistic ideas, does that necessarily mean reconstructing the old rituals the way they once were? Maybe not necessarily - what about taking those cultural forms we are already familiar with, like dancing to a pop song. And then just breathe the old wisdom into this contemporary cultural practice. This is something I've always liked. Alhtough words like 'shamanism' or 'a mystic experience' might sound exotic, they need not to be. You don't need to sit in a cave wearing a robe, you don't need to dance around a fire wearing an animal fur (although you can do that, if you like), but to get a glimpse of shamanistic wisdom or to be touched by a mystic experience you can just don your party clothes and go bouncing and dancing to some good pop music. Gotta' love!

Oh well, now where I am? Yes, on the train to Tampere! It is 2 am, and I arrive at Tampere. My friends are still up and awake, we meet at a bar and then head to sleep for the night. In the morning we have an unhurried brunch and I feel happy for having such friends. I continue onwards to see some of my other friends at Tampere. We end up listening to more live music; the bands are Vuoret, Lac Belot and Joensuu 1685. All of them were good, but I'd especially like to mention Joensuu 1685 ; their strong stage presence and hypnotically looping playing felt like an invitation into some sort of shamanistic trance where your soul can travel to another layers of reality, while your body keeps happily dancing on.

Maustetytöt
Maustetytöt
vocals: Mariska, bass: Luis Herrero
vocals: Mariska, bass: Luis Herrero
keyboards: Klaus Suominen, drums: Jaakko Jakku
keyboards: Klaus Suominen, drums: Jaakko Jakku
Joensuu 1685
Joensuu 1685
tags: 
depression
diary
music
spirituality
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7 users have voted.

Comments

Thanks for this post, reminded me of how much I enjoy live music and that I should visit a show sometime soon again.

Cheers! I wish you get to see a live music show sometime soon! Personally I love small venues where there isn't that much distance between the band and the audience. But then, this probably is a matter of personal taste - I understand some people enjoy getting immersed into the unique atmosphere of a huge crowd of an audience.

This is a very personal post from you. Depression is one of the worst things that can happen to a person, it is seriously crippling. The bands presented here are quite good, but even my Ukrainian doesn't help me understand a word of them lyrics ;D. I must say, that elderly gentleman has a good sense of music, and I didn't know that many of the older generation particularly like synth music. Spacesynth is a very good genre, but the one that I listen to most is synthwave and darksynth. I really recommend giving a listen to Carpenter Brut, Pertrubator and Mitch Murder!

Hello!

Yeah I think in the earlier years of my blog writing I wrote more about my depression, expressing some rather personal thoughts and feelings. But once those have been expressed, in the latter posts I've mostly felt that there isn't such a need to return to those topics in detail. Well, but for this story it would've felt all too superficial to merely say "I went to see my favourite band for I like them" or something =) So I felt a need to refer to the deeper layers of meaning, going into personal stuff. And every time I've been writing about my own depression I hope it could somehow help or encourage some other people out there.

Thanks for your music recommendations, I'll listen to them!

Ps. if you (or anyone else) wishes to know more about lyrics of this or that song mentioned in the blog post, just ask. I can try to write at least some sort of translation in the comment section.

Hi Erkka! Thank you for this. I love your connection to music and so appreciate that you pay attention to new bands and support their careers. That's wonderful.

I also love how you are looking back and realizing how different life is once you learn to feel and release some of those difficult emotions. It seems to be the only way, to give light to the darkness. Only then do we get to move past some of those old patterns.

I love the reference to shamanism. I have been immersing myself in this study, and I look forward to speaking with you about it one day.

All the best!
Clem

Clementine

I'd guess for me, one of the healing aspects of music is that it is a language older than words - music helps to reconnect with the bodily presence, with emotions, to re-find a childlike freedrom of playful improvisation.

I think your way of working with the guided meditations is a contemporary flavour of the old shamanistic techniques. All those gentle ways to guide the deeper subconscious part of the mind/body. Oh, now I started to think about writing a blog entry on this topic =)
Well, sure, let's do a call some time in the coming weeks!

A peculiar way to describe the reality. I love it.

Hehe, a few times in my life I've thought: "Well this stuff was already peculiar and now it is getting peculiarer and peculiarer!"

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