By Nina Clevinger
A stark white billboard stands above the apartment next door, its contents empty except for a simple "BELIEVE IN LOVE: Easter 2016" written in black across the center. Tall, skinny palm trees rise higher than the sign, their slender trunks framing the fog-covered Los Angeles skyline. I’m sitting on my friend's balcony; the Pacific Ocean in view on my right, Runyon Canyon sprawled across my left.
It’s only my second day here, and I’m already dreading my return home.
The coolest thing about Los Angeles is that no matter what you are doing or where you are looking, everything is completely different. Like I said before - I’m out on the balcony, enjoying the early morning breeze and gawking at the incredible sights surrounding me. A man across the street is dressed in his Sunday best and walking into what I presume to be an office building. One of my friends is in the living room blasting the Berliner Symphoniker on the television. The screen door is cracked open, so I can hear the beauty the orchestra is making from my perch on the balcony's ledge. My other friend is up on the roof, the sounds of his acoustic falling down on me from above. Every person is different, every sound is different, and every place is different. I love it.
My absolute favorite part about L.A, however, is the music. You step off a plane in LAX and the magic of Hollywood and all that it promises immediately surges through you. It seriously feels like another world. The idea of what it bestows upon so many, how it’s the place where some of the world’s most talented and beloved musicians began their journeys to stardom... there’s something about that idea - of success, of fame, of dreams coming true - that makes this specific city in California feel like it belongs in the fantasy realms of a Disney movie and not in the real world.
Music is one of the prominent reasons Hollywood stands out amongst other cities, as it is the place where so many planted their roots and became legends. Though seemingly similar lifestyles and endings, each of these musicians is completely different - just like everything else about Los Angeles. Their sounds are completely different, their looks, their place in the world, their everything - it’s different. It’s all different but it’s all incredible.
Right now I’m in the middle of reading Anthony Kiedis’s autobiography, Scar Tissue. It’s a book about how he became the front man for Red Hot Chili Peppers, and his insane journey to stardom. He didn’t really start playing music until his twenties, but his entire life he knew he wanted to make people feel the way music makes him feel - he just didn’t know how. I agree. That’s where I’m at in life, that’s how I feel. I don’t play any instruments, and if you ever heard me sing you’d probably never ask to hear that sound again. But there’s something about music that I want to share with the universe someway, somehow.
Kiedis went back and forth between L.A. and the Midwest for many years, eventually making California his permanent place to partake in debauchery. He just knew he belonged there, that magic would come out of being there. Again - I agree. Music inspired his every move, his every decision - but not in the way you’d think, not because he wanted to be a musician. It just inspired him to live. He didn’t even ever really want to be a rock star, not until the opportunity threw itself in his face. He just wanted to be around music all the time, and somehow figure out a way to inspire other people the way it inspires him.
That’s what I fucking love about music. It’s incredible - the combination of sounds coming from inanimate objects and the passion of a single person’s soul creates something that literally changes the world. Music inspires people, saves their lives, and helps them discover whom they are and what they want to do. All is possible through music. And we as humans create it, with our own imaginations. How cool is that?
My favorite thing in the entire world is music. All types of music. I could listen to anything, it could be absolutely awful - but it’s still amazing in a way, too. For every song I think is god awful, someone out there in the world thinks it’s the best thing ever written. Music is adaptable to every person who interacts with it. The way I hear guitar could be completely different from the way my brother hears it, or my mother or my father. Any sound a guitar makes is my favorite sound, but some people hate the guitar. And that’s cool, too.
Music isn’t meant to be loved by everyone, or hated by everyone. Music is meant to help the person creating it express themselves, and the person listening to it learn about themselves, and vice versa. Music is single-handedly the thing that keeps us all going, it’s right up there with love - it’s all we need. Love and music. And to be completely honest, I think love and music are the same things.
Love is a feeling, it’s not tangible - but if it were tangible, I think it would look and smell and taste and feel the way music does. Love can hurt, music can hurt. Love can heal, music can heal. It’s all the same, it’s all we need and it’s what makes the world spin around the sun and it’s what makes the stars shine at night. Music is just another one of the universe’s way of reminding us that life is meant to be enjoyed, and passions are meant to be explored.
I think it’s absolutely amazing that there are things like music that exist, and that people of all different types come together to enjoy it and create it and share it. Anything that unites people as a whole is something that should never, ever stop happening.
And that’s another cool thing about music - it won’t ever stop, because it’s a part of this universe. Even if instruments didn’t exist and people couldn’t sing or scat or whatever it is they do- there’s nature. Animals are the greatest musicians to walk this earth, insects create the largest orchestra to ever exist, and the wind is the best front man the ocean and trees and grass and flowers have ever had. Music is everything. It really is.
The mid-morning Los Angeles breeze is carrying the sounds of Hollywood Boulevard up to my seat on the balcony, and again I am reminded of how lucky I am to exist in a place where something as simple as sound can create this empire of talent and success. The white billboard next to me is staring me down, its words permanently etched in my mind. BELIEVE IN LOVE.
Believe in love, believe in music, and believe in yourself, and no matter where you end up, you will be okay. Music will make sure of it.