On a quiet night recently, I assembled the ingredients for a Sri Lankan curry. I pulled a knife from the drawer and a chopping board from the pantry. I gathered my cauliflower, my spices, my monkfish. And then I began a ritual.
Headphones on. Apron on. Noise begins. Sweet, sweet noise.
So I begin with a bop. That’s my head. And I spin. My feet move before I even volunteer them to do so. And I think to myself: I am a man on mushrooms. I am a demon on cocaine. I am a dancer with the reddest shoes. I am Jim Morrison in nineteen-sixty-fucking-five.
I cut the vegetables with the kind of deft skill I thought only chefs possess. But it is the music, the rhythm. It’s driving me now. I am happy to be its slave.
The song I’m moving to is always the same. My cooking song. It’s got that perfect psychedelic opening. A maraka shakes, a bass rumbles, and then a guitar melts through it all. Alter Ego by Tame Impala. Or is it Lucidity?
“I know where you been but I don’t know how you got thereeeeeeeeee”, I sing to myself, probably thinking of a woman.
Then, quite suddenly, I’m moving even more. I’m in a trance. I’m dancing across the kitchen, shirtless and wild. The drums come in and I remember that I too played the drums once. So I start tapping the work top, and ahhhhhh I’m still alive! And my hair is falling forward now. And I feel like Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
I am the musician, the drinker, the drug-taker. I can sing, I can dance, I can party. I’m the man I never was or will be.
But that’s okay. I don’t want to be a drinker. I don’t want to take drugs. I couldn’t do that. I’d collapse. I’d fall apart. And though on quiet nights I ask myself simply: is it bad that I don’t feel normal sometimes? (I feel like normal people do all of these things and more). I then remember that I have my music to make me feel normal whenever I want it to.
I finish prepping my curry then. It turns out it is Alter Ego playing. But I have no alter ego. I am just me.
Like the song says:
“The only one who’s really judging you is yourself.”
So when you’re cooking for yourself in your kitchen. When Nina Simone’s playing, or Stormzy, or Bach, or Abba, or The Beatles for all I care. Remember to move to your music and to love it. Really love it.
Music makes us feel alive. Music makes us become the things in our heads that we might never be in the physical world. Music is the purest art there is. Now stick that in your trumpet and blow it.
~ Samuel Hodges, September 2021, in his kitchen.