“Is this song about Harry Potter?”
I’ve been asked this question by friends on more than one occasion over the past four years. I’m not ashamed to say that a large proportion of my music library is comprised of wizard rock. It has been the soundtrack for my college years. “This isn’t Hogwarts, this is a concrete box” aptly describes my first-ever dorm room and the feelings I had during my first month of college. I was singing “Charlie Weasley doesn’t really love me, he only loves his dragons” at the top of my lungs when I was pulled over for my first (and hopefully last) speeding ticket. And as someone who’s spent the past four years living on the banks of Lake Ontario, “by the banks of the lake, I watch the sun become a glimmer, I watch it set. As the summer breeze blows, I close my eyes, enjoy these days with my good friends” precisely captures some of my best college memories.
A lot of people have some misconceptions about wizard rock. After all, how many songs can be written about the same characters and plotlines? “I like the books, but I don’t think I’d want to hear about them all the time.” Good wizard rock, though doesn’t just summarize or transcribe the events of the books, it connects with the universality of many of the themes and characters in Harry Potter. Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls’ “Dumbledore’s Song,” though it tells the story of Dumbledore’s death, carries a greater message about the grief that follows the loss of a mentor. “Don’t Leave,” my favorite Ministry of Magic song, discusses the strain that constantly fighting for a larger cause can put on a relationship. And of course, the Moaning Myrtles’ “Transparent” talks about how love of this series, this music, and this fandom has helped give fans confidence to take their place in the world.
I know the wizard rock music I’ve listened to and the friends I’ve made through the Harry Potter fandom have really helped me personally grow in confidence over the past four years. I’ve made many online friends through a shared passion for Harry Potter, and I would not trade that for the world. I’ve gotten a chance to spend time with them through wizard rock concerts and LeakyCon 2012, a Harry Potter convention (miss you, Nadia, Ella, Patty, Mack, Sarah, and Chelsea!). Are our bonds based solely on our Potter passion? Of course not. That’s what fandom does, though. It acts as a starting point. It’s like my favorite C.S. Lewis quote: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” That’s one reason why I love the Internet, why I love wizard rock concerts, and fan conventions. It helps the Luna Lovegoods and Neville Longbottoms of the world find each other.
It extends beyond the Internet, though. As I mentioned above, the first month or so of college, I was pretty miserable. I’d somehow ended up in a rundown party dorm, full of people I wasn’t sure how to connect with. In October, I made my first real friend at college. We had a class together, and the first time we ever really talked, I made a joke that she had “Ginny Weasley hair.” Though it has since emerged that she’s not a huge Harry Potter fan, the fact that she accepted the reference as something interesting and funny helped me realize it was okay for me to be me in college, nerdiness and all. I said goodbye to her today for the next few years, as we go our separate ways for grad school (her to Ireland, me to Seattle). We’ll stay friends, though – kindred spirits are like that.
Although many of my favorite wizard rock bands are (mostly) retired, the music will still be there (mainly on YouTube and iTunes) for those who want to listen to it. In the meantime, new musicians are constantly generating music, some for the Harry Potter fandom and others for different fandoms. As a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, it’s one of my favorite ways of analyzing literature. It explores the text and the subtext and expands upon it, bridges the personal and the universal. Some songs are musically brilliant, others have haunting lyrics. Some are just fun to dance to (I’m looking at you, “Looking for Trouble”). My go-to suggestions for people are The Remus Lupins (TRL) and Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls. If you want more specific suggestions, leave a comment and I’d be happy to give you some ideas! Also, note that Alex Carpenter, the voice of The Remus Lupins has also written a lot of songs about Doctor Who and The Hunger Games, if you’re interested.
On another note, I’ve decided to avoid promising future posts from now on. Last post I promised a review of The Moon and More for next post, and while I wanted to write that post then, as I had just read it, I was less interested in writing the review as more time passed and I read more books. That was part of the reason this post took a little longer than usual, and I finally decided to just post about whichever book-related topic I feel drawn to at the time.
The Remus Lupins’ iTunes page (Nevermind the Furthermore is my favorite album)
Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls’ iTunes page
Tonks & the Aurors’ iTunes page (artist of the infamous “Charlie Weasley,” which helped earn me that speeding ticket)
Ministry of Magic’s iTunes page
The Moaning Myrtles’ iTunes page
Bonus feature: A cover of The Remus Lupins’ “Lovely Lily” by my wonderfully talented friend Patty Pierzchala! Both the song and the singing are gorgeous: