photo courtesy of CalArts 24700 blog
May 18, 2012: graduation day at CalArts, an art institution in Valencia, California. The annual graduation ceremony is an event in itself, it draws in thousands of families, and friends, all celebrating our journey into the real world. We celebrate weeks leading up to the big day with BBQs that bring faculty and students together as are no longer teacher/students but colleagues. The energy that consumes the small campus is electric. Every year a graduation committee is assembled by the student council, with representatives from each of the college’s métiers of Art, Theater, Dance, Music, and Animation (I think that is all of them). This committee gathers in the months leading up to graduation, planning design elements for the run of the show. In 2012 the Art School’s stage design proposal was chosen, which I am sure pissed off a lot of theater set design students, but who cares.
The point is, that for the first time at the end of the ceremony, a fireworks show was to take place accompanied by a celebratory song, because fireworks and anthems go hand in hand. A song that would represent our time and our journey into the unknown future of adulthood. As the ceremony begins, each school walks down in procession accompanied by a drum line, with a cheering audience, all seats are taken, speeches are made, we line up and walk across the bridge to be handed our placeholder diplomas, shaking our dean’s hand and continuing to celebrate. It becomes dark outside as the ceremony ends and the last name is called. We students begin to rush onto the stage, gathering in celebration and excited that the fireworks are about to start.
AND all of a sudden they begin, and the song begins,
“Toniggghhhttt, We Are Youngggggg”.
WHAT?! Shocked, I stopped dead and stood still. WE ARE YOUNG? This was my graduation song? The musical representation of my 4 years in college? Fireworks and this epic moment ruined!
I wanted so badly to hear Firework by Katy Perry! You may laugh, I know that, but in that moment, what could have been more perfect. Do you ever feel like a plastic bag/Drifting through the wind/Wanting to start again/Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin/Like a house of cards/One blow from caving in/Do you ever feel already buried deep/Six feet under scream/But no one seems to hear a thing/Do you know that there’s still a chance for you/Cause there’s a spark in you/You just gotta ignite the light/And let it shine/Just own the night/Like the Fourth of July/Cause baby you’re a firework/Come on show’em what you’re worth/Make’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”/As you shoot across the skyyy/ Baby you’re a firework/Come on let your colors burst/Make’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”/You’re gonna leave’em fallin’ downownown/Oh, you’re gonna leave’em fallin’ downownown/You don’t have to feel like a waste of space/You’re… / firework, such a climatic conclusion.
It may be all personal preference, I know that also, but perfect.
Music can hold enormous power in memories and experiences, transporting us instantly to an age, location, or person. What sonic joys, mysteries, disbelief, and clarity have you experienced? Identify songs of influence in your life and explore them like variations on a theme, melding syntax and song structure, recalling the seriousness or levity that accompanies. Whether it’s an account of when a specific song first entered your life, the process of learning to play a song, teaching someone a song, experiencing the same song in different places as it weaves through your life, unbelievable radio timing, sharing songs with those in need, tracking the passing down of songs, creative song analysis etc, I am interested in those ineffable moments and welcoming submissions of your own variations on a theme, as drawn from your life’s soundtrack. Please email submissions to email@example.com and keep an eye out for others’ Variations.
**(“song” is a broad phrase: could be a pop song, a traditional tune, a symphony, commercial jingles, a hummed lullaby, 2nd grade recorder class horror stories, etc)**