Music Is Freaky When You Think About It

You see, I can’t help but think about all those freaky wood and metal instruments being fingered and blown into and such.

Katherine Shaw
4 min readMay 31


Music, music, music. People seem to like it. Don’t get me wrong, the opening notes of a song gets me “vibing” as much as the next person. But just two notes. Two notes of a song are enough for me.

Once a song progresses into a chord, the experience becomes a bit much. You see, I can’t help but think about all those freaky wood and metal instruments being fingered and blown into and such.

I’m sure a full song experience is nice, but I really don’t need it.

Take “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve, a Britpop song that defined the musical era, or so I’ve been told. I remember it like yesterday, the one and only time I heard that E note followed by an abbreviated B note which led to a D note and — I’m going to have to stop there. Even thinking about that third note is overwhelming, but I’m sure you’re familiar with the song.

No, please don’t start humming it. The recollection of that intense violin intro will consume me with my recurring nightmare of horses having their hair ripped out by instrumentalists dressed in their finest black formal wear. Which is a completely valid fear.

Come on, I can’t be the only person who gags whenever a bow string instrument is heard. You do realize those little music wands are made of wood and HORSEHAIR? Disgusting. One hopes the horsehair is humanely sourced, but the music industry is as wicked as any.

And I’m not being narrow-minded. I actually took a violin lesson in fourth grade. And I stayed the full session…because I was paralyzed by the thought of partially bald horses.

Oh, so you still don’t believe me when I say music is freaky?

Did you know “rosin cakes” exist and they’re needed for bowed instruments? Children across the world are told it’s totally normal, not gross at all, to rub a chunk of colored viscous onto horsehair in order to encourage sound to emanate from the instrument. To this day I remain haunted by the imaginary (yet very plausible) high-pitched whines of exploited ponies.

Now are you beginning to see why music is freaky? If the mistreatment of horses doesn’t pull at your heartstrings — ughh, I regret using that phrase just now. The image of actual heartstrings being plucked… I’m starting to feel nauseous…

Anyways, you probably still think I’m missing out on some clandestine rhapsody that can only be obtained from listening to a song in its entirety. But what’s not to get from reading the lyrics online?

Again, take “Bittersweet Symphony.” I’m sure the songwriter was like, ohhh, yeah, ROADS! And I get it. I can read. I’ve experienced roads countless times. Driving, walking, getting lost, et cetera. I don’t need to listen to a whole song in order to understand the complexities of roads.

Additionally, I’m not mourning the loss of having never heard a saxophone punctuate every mention of the word “road” in “Bittersweet Symphony.” Which is how I imagine this song’s harmonic progression would evolve into if I ever listened to the remaining 4 minutes and 31 seconds.

I can derive plenty of context clues regarding the point of a song despite never having listened to more than two of its notes. I mean, with a title like “Bittersweet Symphony” it’s safe to assume a full symphony was involved. And I’m pretty sure no symphony is complete unless it contains a saxophone.

I’ve been told the saxophone is one of the most assertive instruments one could play, making it the obvious choice for creating an image of a cocksure white dude dominating a busy city street for no reason other than life being absurd and patriarchal. Which is of course the actual meaning of the song because I’ve had many wonderful musical experiences watching the official video on MUTE.

And I’m sure “Bittersweet Symphony” utilizing the word “no” twenty-seven times was super impactful for listeners, so I imagine a didgeridoo gave those “no no no no no” lyrics justice. Except, I can’t imagine didgeridoos much longer because woodwind instruments require all that huffing and puffing, and years ago a long night of insomnia-induced worrying led me to realize these instruments must be filled with saliva.

Gosh, I’m going to have to stop talking about this since I’m on the brink of an anxiety attack. I mean, haven’t you ever wondered at what point do these musicians inhale their own spit and choke to death? How many didgeridoo musicians died during the recording of “Bittersweet Symphony”??

Whoa. That’s probably why it’s titled “Bittersweet Symphony.” Just think — the entire didgeridoo section of the symphony died of asphyxiation while creating what became an absolute staple of late-90s music. Now that’s bittersweet.

I’m feeling really lightheaded, so I’m going to stop talking about this now. But you understand what I mean by music being freaky?

Originally published at on May 31, 2023.



Katherine Shaw

(she/her) writes things in Belladonna Comedy, Slackjaw, Points in Case, Flexx, Greener Pastures & more. Twitter/IG@daclassybiatch