(Photo: Isabel Reidy)
Welcome to ‘Musicians And Their Favorite Books’. Once a month, a musician writes about one of their favorite books and how it influences their work.
Izzy True is a musician and cartoonist living in Trumansburg, NY. She plays music about her comics with her brother Silas Reidy and her friends Angela DeVivo and Jon Samuels. Izzy True’s debut release Troll EP is out now on Don Giovanni Records.
The following piece is in Izzy’s own words:
“The Spring Tune” – Tove Jansson
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a song last. Typically I listen to music in the same sweaty, desperate way I do pretty much everything else. I love songs briefly and intensely – something about it will catch me and I’ll have to listen to it over and over and over until the fever breaks and I’m done with it. I listened to Steely Dan’s “Peg” about 300 times over the course of a single week this Summer (my brother, who was stuck in a car with me at the time, was not stoked about this.)
Then there are those other songs, the ones that I will probably listen to my whole life. These songs don’t get hollow and stale with repetition, but instead reveal more of themselves each time I hear them. It’s a tricky business trying to nail down exactly what qualities makes a song stick in that way.
(Photo: Moomin Characters)
Whenever I try to put my finger on it “The Spring Tune”, a short story from Tove Jansson’s Tales From Moominvalley, invariably comes to mind. It’s about a wandering musician named Snufkin and the night his song writing is interrupted by a lonesome, pathetic Creep. In addition to containing the single best description of what it’s like to write a song I’ve ever read, “The Spring Tune” has a beautiful passage about the song that Snufkin was working on:
“‘It’s the right evening for a tune.’ Snufkin thought. A new tune, one part expectation, two parts spring sadness, and for the rest just the great delight of walking alone and liking it.”
I think that’s what makes a song last, more or less. A little bit of that soft, underlying melancholy that you can never quite shake, a nod to loneliness, and a joke about the whole thing. Because, ya know, who are you, anyway, and who really cares? Sometimes you need big, wild songs for big, wild feelings, but I think the songs about the quiet pauses in between those feelings have the most longevity for me.
(Photo: Cameron Pollack)
I grew up reading Moomintroll. For anyone unfamiliar, they are Finnish children’s books about a family of weird creatures who live by the sea. The stories are wHiMsY rIcH and funny, but also deeply sad. All of the characters seem to be a bit lonely in one way or another, and their adventures take place as much in the strange world they inhabit as they do in their sort of sad experiences of each other.
I’ve reread them a few times now that I’m older and am always shocked at their depth. I wonder how much of that stuff I was able to pick up on as a kid, I can’t really remember much more than the fact that I loved the books. However much of it I grasped back then, Moomintroll had a lasting effect on me.
These days when I write a song or make a comic, I’m always hoping to catch that ~Moominvalley vibe~… that Jonathan Richman “Summer Feeling”.
You can find Izzy True via:
Brady is the founder of Headphone Nation. He’s responsible for all this mess. Sorry about that. He’s also on Twitter @BradyWGerber