Vince Vaughn on the Metaphysics of Music
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The Byrds - "You Ain't Going Nowhere"

There is one moment of light in the otherwise frustrating and unfunny Ron Howard comedy The Dilemma. In one of his trademark virtuoso verbal improvisations, a nervous, lying Vince Vaughn, desperate to change whatever banal subject is at hand, spirals into a brief discourse on the metaphysics of art. Channeling Schopenhauer, Vaughn says, "They say music is the highest art form, that it can do the most emotional work the fastest." Such a lofty, irrelevant claim - I couldn't help but laugh.

Music acts on our emotions as quickly as our brain can process a single chord. Major chords tend to evoke happiness, minor chords sadness, diminished chords are disconcerting, augmented ones are scary. And yet we use this powerful tool perversely - why in our saddest moments are we more likely to listen to Bonnie Prince Billy than The Beatles (or when we're being hunted do we long for augmented triads)?

In truth, there's no reason for us ever to be sad or troubled. Better than Xanax or therapy and faster than fixing our problems is the chorus of The Byrds' cover of Bob Dylan's classic "You Ain't Going Nowhere." Heart-broken? Mourning? Profoundly alone in a dark, violent storm? It's nothing claves, galloping drums, pedal steel, and hope sung in close harmony won't fix. So take control of your emotional life and buy.

(Or if you're immune to The Byrds, try this: Burning Spear - "New Civilization".)

Posted by Jordan at May 25, 2011 10:39 PM

Last year I helped run a music program for youth who were affected by bushfires in Victoria, Australia. I'm not very cool, so it never really took off, but one time it was just me and maybe two other kids and we were just plucking randomly away... all of a sudden, some guy walks in and asks me, 'hey, do you like the Byrds?' I was like, 'I like some of their stuff I guess - I like Sweetheart of the Rodeo'. Without missing a beat, the guy picks up a guitar, gives it to me and says 'play You Ain't Goin' Nowhere'. I guess I figured it out on the spot, and start strumming, he picks up a guitar and starts crooning away. The guy sings like a black Roger Mcguinn, the coolest crooning in the history of croon, and we played the whole thing, and that was probably the most rock and roll moment in my life.

Posted by Sean at May 26, 2011 6:42 PM

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