Let me tell you a story. There’s a world out there in which music exists. From every window of its many cities, there spills a light filled with melody and harmony. In that world, music is everywhere; it speaks to the denizens of the world in many voices, each one able to contort to the listener’s mood. It doesn’t just play opposites or meshes with their state of mind; it is able to do both those things and more, always inventing new and interesting ways in which it can alchemically merge with the person consuming it and create something more.

In this world, music exists. Nature breathes with its own beat, the skies sing daily of the beauty that is living. Likewise, the night strums despair and solitude and the deepest wells ring with sadness immeasurable. In this world, hearts often burst asunder under the weight of living and in bursting release a mellifluous melody that carries across the world, amplified by the antenna network that is humanity. In this world, music exists and, thus, every person is a collection, a being which carries within them (even if they don’t have much to do with music) a host of songs they know from childhood, a taste, a perspective, an archive of things they like and don’t like.

In this world, where music exists and has existed for as long as people can remember, music cannot be taken for granted. Such is its uniqueness that, even in this world where music runs through everything, it must be tended and cared for. It is used for hurt and alienation. It becomes stale. In this world, people who love music often lose hope; they see music consumed and ejected like waste. The shock of the intrusion of music upon the world, the beautiful choir which comes from inside to meet outside intonations, seems to often be cheap and discarded.

But in this world, where music exists because it is essential, because, even though it might not seem like it, a lot of people need it in order to live, those who despair are sometimes reminded of the power of music. Some of them are reminded daily and they are truly blessed. Some of those go even deeper and sink into music, until the line between the skin of their eardrums and their instruments of listening becomes irrelevant. Their cells vibrate, their musical blood-brain barrier collapses, they drink deep of an overflowing cup made of tones and they yearn to fade away and let music take their place.

This world where music exists is, of course, this world, our world. It’s important to take stock when you can and remember that: we live in a world where music exists and that is a miracle we have never, and will never, deserve. And yet, we still have it and we can still enjoy it, regardless of whether we “deserve” anything, a silly concept if you think about it. But why am I writing about this here? How is this “2021 In Review”? Well, let me further expand on that story: I joined Heavy Blog eight years ago and my life changed forever. As I’ve said before, I couldn’t do it without all of you. And I mean all of you, any of you reading this: friends, artists, PR, just people on my list, my periphery and my core, loved ones, family, readers, really everyone that’s reading this. I am a cloud that is the totality of our interactions and without those interactions, I couldn’t make Heavy Blog work and making the blog work is one of my favorite things in the world. Yes, even if the interaction amounts to “just” writing the things I write, or reacting to things on Facebook or whatever else you might consider as an interaction. No matter how small, it has helped build and maintain this thing called Heavy Blog and I love that thing and I love you.

I could have spent these lines, as I did last year, in reviewing the actual year. The thing is, everything I said last time is still relevant, if not more so. As hard as these years have been, this is nothing compared to what is coming for us. But you know what? Even if it all comes crashing down, even if the absolute worst case scenario happens and the entirety of human society collapses (highly unlikely by the way and it’s telling that we prefer to talk about that scenario than the “middle ground” scenarios we are more likely to encounter), there will still be music. Because as long as there have been humans, there has been music and if all of us are dead then there’s really nothing to be worried about because, well, all the people who might worry are dead. But if anything less than that happens, the miracle of music will keep existing.

And you know what? Even if that does happen, music will still exist! It will be in the bird’s song, in the chirp of insects, in the way the wind moves through the trees that sounds like a choir rejoicing. It will be in the susurration of the ocean and the roar of an animal as it echoes across mountains. And even if all of those go as well, the spheres themselves will still be humming along in the coldness, radiating their energy and what is music if not energy operating under some sort of structure? Even if the worst of the worst that can be imagined comes to past, we can take comfort that music is a universal constant, perhaps the best universal constant alongside with meager things like gravity or how time works.

OK, so what’s the point? Naturally, my point is not “give up because no matter we do, we’ll have music and that’s enough”. No, the point is that not giving up is really hard, you know? It’s really hard to handle any human life; they’re all hard. Even if you’re privileged, you still carry around a brain and brains are notoriously bad at almost everything except calculation calorie intakes and outtakes. And most of us aren’t privileged, or are privileged in some areas and in some aren’t, suffering the many-bladed attacks of this thing called “being alive”. And if we try to improve things? That’s even harder. That leaves us floundering, looking for a solid base on which to rely. Devon Graves, frontman for Psychotic Waltz but also the underrated Deadsoul Tribe, said it well on their track “Black Smoke and Mirrors”:

The worlds only promise is change
My hope is that something remains
Something forever
Something that never
Comes ’round and goes ’round again
Something my heart really understands
Something within

So, I am here to tell you that there is something that never changes, while it still “comes ’round and goes ’round again” and that’s music! Sure, different types of music come and go; you love one band and then you don’t the next year. Genres die, disappear, and then are born again. But the thing itself, the crux of the matter, the Ding an sich (Google it), remains: music will be here forever. I don’t know how much it helps you to hear this but it helps me. It did help me in 2013-2014, when my life seemed not worthy of living, when I thought that everything I had grown to love was gone and would never return. Music spoke to me then, encouraged by the blog and the sheer amount of music I was exposed to, and it told me that some things are stable or stable enough, rather. Stable enough for me to live my life, at least, and I hope it’s stable enough to help you live yours.

OK. That’s it. Here’s a meme. Just add “music is forever” to the list that’s on there, and you’re set. I love you. It’s going to be OK.