Lady GaGa has wowed and shocked audiences once again with the release of her newest single from the “Born This Way” album, “Marry the Night”. When the album was to be released, I stayed up until midnight in anticipation to be one of the first to download it from iTunes. I guess I was marrying the night before I even knew it, on this front. “Marry the Night” is the first song on the album, and when I heard it, it instantly became a favorite of mine. The song is typical GaGa, with a heavy dance beat and lyrics that provide ambiguous artistic meaning, but the video that accompanies this song sheds even more light on what Lady GaGa envisioned, and how her thoughts could apply to any musician in our battle towards success.
In the prelude to this video, GaGa describes how her memories are often romanticized and changed, making them more artistic and, in essence, more pleasurable to recount. I actually had a discussion about this a few months ago on a flight back to Memphis with a neuroscientist, who said that “the purest memories are those you don’t remember”. He went on the describe how the mind, instead of taking memories off a shelf, relearns memories, replacing details constantly, until what you remember is actually far from reality. I’m not sure if I can say that some of my most fond memories (coming to California for the first time, meeting Andy, or even learning my first notes on bassoon) have been skewed, but it is fun to recall things in a more pleasing way.
The University of Southern California Opera put on their rendition, not too long ago, of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”, which explores the ideas of being a servant of the night, and the battle between light and dark. The Queen of the Night in the opera has a daughter who, initially, believes her mother is on the side of good, and those seeking the light are evil. Everything is set right by the end of this 3 hour endeavor, but what if being in the darkness is truly the right thing to do? Musicians, for one, marry the night in our careers on a literal level simply because most concerts take place at night. Even those musicians who are not of the classical persuasion marry the night – people don’t go to jazz bars during the day, for instance. On a figurative level, however, there is a lot of night walking involved with being a musician as well, in my opinion. If we think about taking auditions, for example, we are there to win and to beat everyone else there. It would be very “light” oriented to go into the warm-up room wishing to help and coach the other musicians, hoping that they do their best. The dark reality, though, is that if we truly want to win, we want everyone else in that room to fail.
In an effort to spend as much time in Memphis as possible on my frequent weekend trips, I tend to land in Los Angeles around 1 AM on those dark, miserable Monday mornings. Flying over the city at that hour and seeing the man-made, terrestrial orange lights can be so stressful, and even spooky, because it reminds me of some type of concrete jungle, or a battle. Quite frankly, going through the day to day motions here feels like a battle most times. GaGa’s song, in a way, speaks to me during these times, though, in that she’s telling a story about how she embraced what was scary, stressful, and unknown. When I hop off that plane, I know that I have to “lace up my boots” and know that “I won’t cry anymore”, despite my being outside of the comfort zone I enjoy in Memphis.
So what’s my point? I think we have to, sometimes, walk on a path that isn’t completely “PC” or “in the light” to find what we’re looking for. Even if we decide to decorate our dark memories to make them more desireable or artistic, recognize that not everything in life is lollie pops and unicorns. Take a stance against a teacher, mentor, or supervisor if you truly feel justified. Don’t be ashamed of your desire to be better than other people in your profession. Marry the night.