The song I picked for this challenge, Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope,” was sparked by an offhand about my clothes–an outfit I had crafted in homage to Ms. Monae’s signature black and white gear for the closing weeks of school. A friend and I broke out spontaneously in “Tightrope” and I realized that was the feeling I had wanted to consider–and feel and think and be– on repeat for the challenge.
The choice of song had been difficult for me, not for the “cool” factor (as would have certainly pervaded my thoughts in my teenage years) but because I am much more aware of music’s power–and I wanted to use the music to “get correct” and get into a good headspace–at this point in the semester (and as a mother to a preschooler and an active scholar coming up on tenure) throwing off my game with something mopey, melancholy, or treaccly was not going to happen.
Because I am on the tightrope. And its a thin line.
Honestly, I loved this challenge. In part because I listened to the song over and over in my car with my kid–who not only loves listening to songs on repeat, but prefers it. We learned the song together, over and over, picking out new and different parts on each replay–making the car bounce at the stoplights from our dancing and vibing along. We laughed all day when he would, at the grocery store or the library, turn to me and quote lines from the song: “‘Now that’s what I call classy brass.’ [pause] Mommy, what’s ‘classy brass’?” He still requests the song whenver we get in the car (alternating with Bruno Mars’s “Locked Out of Heaven.” So I experienced the sheer pleasure of repetition for its own sake and my son’s proclivity to get fixated on a song is intriguing rather than annoying to me. Rather it is my adult quest for new and different and “shuffling” that seems a little strange sometimes.
In addition, the repetition really engrained the song’s emotional signature into my psyche. I began to realize how much the song calmed me–and I began to seek it out, for example, when I had bad news or when I was late and frantically trying to get somewhere. it made my lane changes smoother, while reminding me to keep my cool. don’t rush things will fall into line. I can call up that same feeling as I type up this late entry–I’m worth the wait, Janelle Monae’s tone says, and I got this–an emotional note that had a lingering affect much longer than 24 hours of repetition. I did not feel a sense of relief or release when the experiment was over like I thought I did, but rather more firmly enmeshed in the song’s sonic and emotional hold. In JM’s words, she “put some Voodoo on It.” for sure.