Monday, July 19, 2010

It's the tiny details that make it a.k.a. praise for Akira Yamaoka

"A letter to my future self,
Am I still happy? I began
Have I grown up pretty?
Is daddy still a good man?
Am I still friends with Colleen?
I'm sure that I'm still laughing
Aren't I?
Aren't I?"

-- Letter - From the Lost Days, from Silent Hill 3, by Akira Yamaoka

It may be the beautiful, yet strained, voice of Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, but these lyrics are some of my favourite.  In a strange twist, this song, which is actually quite positive, is haunting and melancholy.  Another song from a Silent Hill soundtrack, Room of Angel ("The love you never gave, I give to you"), sounds happy, and is anything but.  This is the wonder of Akira Yamaoka, and his amazing way with music.

His lyrics, too, betray something I often forget myself, but which is my first piece of advice to aspiring writers - don't forget the small stuff.  Let the reader be part of your world, draw them in, and make them feel like they belong.  Describe the things the eye notices, almost without realising, and write as if they were seeing all of this for the first time.  There's nothing like looking at the world with new eyes.

Akira Yamaoka's lyrics do that for me.  From the opening lines of You're Not Here:

"Blue sky to forever
The green grass blows in the wind, dancing.
It would be a much better sight with you, with me."


to the heart-breaking childlike lines of Waiting For You:

"Mom's gone to Heaven now
Why won't she come back down?
Does she have someone she loves more than me?"


and the drum-heavy exultation of my second favourite, Your Rain:

"Dancing alone again 
again, the rain falling,
only the scent of you remains 
to dance with me."

the simple longing of these phrases comes back, time and time again, to make me feel.  Written, as they are, I doubt their impact is as strong, but sung, unexpected, by a woman who sounds so strong, they're something else entirely.  The simplicity works in their favour, while the strength of the backing imagery is irrepressible.  From the hurt of a child who has lost their mother, to the almost desperate questioning of Letter - From the Lost Days, the innocence with which Yamaoka-san writes is something that can only be written with these new eyes.  As adults, we understand loss, and we understand that life sometimes doesn't go the way you want it to.  Children question this.  They constantly see everything anew.

So these are my songs for writing by.  Whenever I want to feel this way, to write this innocent pain, all I have to do is listen.  My heart may have think it has forgotten, but it's only there, under the surface, waiting for me to remember it.  In the end, opening your eyes to the world depends on what kind of person you are - do you look for the best, or the worst?  Whatever you look for, you will find.  Keep that thought alive for your writing, and be aware of how you bring the world to paper.  It might reveal more of you than you think.

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