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Music as Writing

What is writing, anyway? A way to communicate, sure. But to communicate what?

According to Webster's Dictionary, to communicate means "to transmit information, thoughts, and feelings so that they are received or understood."

Ahh, okay. We want to feel understood.

That makes sense.

But what if writing just isn't our thing? Are we destined to feel alone because we dislike putting pen to paper?

Of course not! Music, art, sculpture, carpentry, architecture—there are thousands of ways besides writing to communicate our thoughts and feelings.

Not only that, these other forms of communication also say a lot about the time in which we live. Take the Parthenon, for example, or Michelangelo's Mona Lisa, or Mozart's 40th Symphony, or The Beatle's "Yellow Submarine." Due to their multimodality (combining sound and visuals, for example), each of these masterpieces can tell us more about a person and culture than words alone ever could.

Last night I attended a concert of a band I have loved for many years. Their music (alternative rock), themes (love and pain), and longevity (they've been around since 1998) say a lot—not only about the musicians themselves, but also about their fans and society at large. Music is its own form of writing, and in my humble opinion, Breaking Benjamin is one of the best alternative-rock writers there is.

The dramatic segue into Breaking Ben's show after BUSH's opening act.

It may surprise some of you to know I like alternative rock. Perhaps you imagine me listening to something less... jarring. And believe me, I do like other, more soothing kinds of music. (I'm a softie for Indie bands like The Paper Kites and The Oh-Hellos.) But Breaking Ben became popular while I was in college. Their music takes me back to getting over breakups, hanging out with friends, and driving on country roads in Ooltewah, Tennessee. It also reminds me of more recent times here in Knoxville, as I dated probably the biggest Breaking Ben fan of all time here for about three years.

And even if you don't like alternative rock, Benjamin Burnley, the band's leader, has an incredible voice, and their songs all have great melodies and poignant, if heart-rending, messages. Some of my favorites include "So Cold," "Torn in Two" "Angels Fall," and, most especially, "The Diary of Jane." (Also, the acoustic versions of their songs are gorgeous. Check out the below version of "The Diary of Jane," if you're interested.)

The lighting was spectacular throughout the show.

The great thing about music, too, is we don't all have to agree. I mean, sure, there are well-loved composers and artists who many people argue were the "best of the best." I mentioned Mozart and The Beatles earlier, but there's also Beethoven and Bach and Madonna and Elvis and... And of course there are dozens of different musical genres, as well as cultural and geographical and generational differences in music, too. Music may very well be the "universal language," but I will never be a country music or K-pop fan. :D

But even if I can't stand Shania Twain, for example, if I try to be objective, her music is not entirely unlike Breaking Ben's. It too has great qualities like catchy melodies, beautiful harmonies, powerful lyrics, and strong rhythm.

Like writing, good music sticks to core principles that—for lack of a better term—just work.

Ben Burnley signing autographs for fans during the show.

Most importantly, though, like writing, good music is truthful and passionate and straight from the heart. It speaks to us in our highest triumphs and darkest moments. It is there for us when nothing and no one else can be.

Happy to see one of my favorite bands live.

Breaking Ben performing "The Diary of Jane" at the end of the show.

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May 25, 2023

Very interesting!


Great post!


May 25, 2023

Hi Jessica,

What an interesting question you’ve posed. What sort of music would I have thought Jessica is in to? I don’t know. I am not a musical person. In primary school (I think it’s what you’d call elementary school) I was given a fail for singing in grade three and told never to sing out loud. In Sunday school, I was asked to mouth. Ever since I’ve not really been musical.

So I had no preconceived thoughts about the type of music you are into.

I will take some time and watch the video and listen you one of your favourite bands.

I hope you have a wonderful week.

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