Sydney 2018

Some songs come to you in a tremendous moment of need. Some songs are needed like a dose of Ibuprofen during the emotional inflammation that is failure. Stonemilker was that Ibuprofen.

I had just decided to leave my University degree and henceforth my life up in Sydney. With only a couple of hundred dollars in the bank and disrupted aspirations, I was an emotional cataclysm. Even with the daunting, skyscrapered walls of Sydney, the bustle of young, vibrant people permeating onto the streets, I felt more socially isolated then I had ever been before.

In my eyes, I was a failure. I hadn’t been able to escape the shackles I felt were placed around my ankles in the form of small town country life. My self-esteem was lowered, my confidence was lowered and my chin was lowered. For the first time in my life I did not believe in my abilities, and I was in the nothingness. But then I heard Stonemilker.

It was on a randomized playlist on the Internet. I had been a fan of Bjork, but I had not listened to this song. The slow, looming sound of string instruments seemed perfect. Bjork’s voice had always been eclectic, just like her style is eccentric.

I took the moment to listen to her lyrics, trying to ascertain the meaning behind each intricately crafted line.

Who is open chested
And who has coagulated

Who can share and
Who has shut down the chances?

These lyrics were so incredibly dense for the 14 words that they are. The resonance it left with me was astounding. I felt open chested, and that my chances of personal growth and success had been shot down. This led me along a desolate path of self-reflection in a manner I had never considered before. I wondered who was responsible for my failures. Was it my environments? Was it my parents? Or perhaps most worryingly of all, was it my own actions? Was I responsible for my own failure?

All I ever wanted was to succeed at whatever I put my mind to. As an individualist, I thought I had a tremendous aptitude for success. This could be perpetuated by a tightly wound personal image, or perhaps even my inability to demonstrate weakness.

The entire song made me realize the struggles of other individuals. As Bjork aptly points out, We have emotional needs. For so long, I had ignored by own emotional needs for what I thought I wanted. It was a dark, murky desire for material and social growth that caused me to ignore the simplistic demands of others. My parents needed me to show empathy towards the entire family. My friends needed me to loosen up and to attend the occasional social gathering.

I was once a greedy, self-centered man. Now I have become more considerate of those around me, and perhaps more accepting of the notion of being wrong.

When people say that a song changes their lives, there is a considerable chance that they may be over-exaggerating. However, the six plus minutes of Bjork’s melody of malaise – within the orchestral notes and her soft voice – helped me understand so much more about the human condition, and I thank her for it.

I was able to, as the song says, Find our mutual coordinates with those I had ill-considered.

Jayke is a writer from Junee, Australia, with an interest in novel writing and freelance journalism.