Wednesday, April 04, 2007

This post is about music and friends

One of the most revealing conversations a person can have with another person is the one about music; music then, music now, music once, and music forever. One of my favorite versions of this conversation is the one where I make a verbal list of shows that I've spent money on, money earned by pressing frozen cow patties through a machine with an auger to make nearly edible desserts for people living in the ice cream capital of the world. With this money I was able to splurge on shows at the outdoor venue formerly known as Parkwest, the hippest place to be on a summer night for the 18 and under crowd. It's here that I heard an aging and aged Bob Dylan though I'm pretty sure that I heard Boy George and Tears for Fears in some building somewhere. I also spent money--fresh, green money--to hear Howard Jones and a year later, with my longhaired boyfriend Dave, Scorpions (the 'the' has been removed, thank you to the nonfan Tad) on the tour of their lives. Chicago, only once, pulled at my tender pubescent heartstrings and I rocked out at a Def Leppard show where I nearly got my ass kicked for looking too 'pristine' while belting out the words to "Pour Some Sugar On Me," recently called the greatest strip club song of all time by Bill Simmons. Though I now wince at the sound of Jimmy Buffett, it was at the Salt Palace that I understood and loved the irony that was a bunch of Mormons singing, "Why don't we get drunk and screw?"

And then there was General Public, a band that will some day get its own post, or at least its own paragraph. I wanted to sleep with Dave Wakeling. What more can I say but a little tenderness, please, and it's true that my brother for at least three weeks had me going when he told me that he could get back stage passes to a GP show that never came to be. In high school I listened to, mostly through the loudspeakers of the high school gym and the stereos of a few pimply, wanna-see-my-stereo hormonal boys, the likes of Boston, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, ACDC, the Eagles, Jethro Tull, The Doors, The Stones and so on.

From what I can tell, I led a sheltered childhood, musically speaking. At a young age my parents introduced me to Neil Diamond, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (sometimes referred to as MoTab), Beethoven and Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam, not The Vaselines version. I later remember listening to Yanni 'makes me yawn' as well as selections from my mother's collection of hit musicals. Turns out my dad had a thing for Judy Collins, so I learned to play "Send in the Clowns" on the piano, along with the themes to Hill Street Blues and Arthur. On a good day I could be heard practicing "Longer Than" followed by "She's Always a Woman" followed by Bach and Rachmaninoff. I played Christmas tunes and hymns and "The Entertainer." I played a new agey tune at a church service that sent a high school friend off for two years of missionary work; I made people cry. I played and listened and listened and played. I think that I might have taken up violin as an escape, from this, the thing that people called music.

Looking back on it I thank the good lord above, or below, that my taste in music has changed. It's not that I don't or can't appreciate the music or the musicians of my past. I do. I do. I do. But I didn't marry them. I didn't take them in sickness or in health, til death do us part. I took them once. And now I've left some of them. I've left them behind with a lot of stuff, stuff that needs to be left behind.

Call me unfaithful if you will, but I'm not true to any band, anymore. And a fancy music degree or fingers that masturbate along the neck of a guitar or an exquisitely formed fuck face or a 10-week stay at the top of the charts or perfectly pitched octaves or stellar reviews in mainstream music mags can't buy my love. Or respect. Nor do I think that music is 'good' because a musician is 'technically' good. There's music that I like that isn't technically good and there's music that I like that is technically good and there's music that I like because I like what I like. I don't have a formal education when it comes to these things, only the education described above, but it doesn't really matter because in the end what matters it that on some level, the music has got it for me, or for you, or for anyone. The music's got to have that thing that says people are vulnerable, that they're born and that they die, alone. The thing that says people create beautiful things. And that they make and do shit. The thing that says people are tough and build fortresses around themselves. Or that they get hurt but they can still love. That people come and go. Wake up. Together and alone. That they laugh. They love. They hate. They suffer.

Maybe we listen to the same music, but don't hear the same thing. Maybe we listen to different music and hear different things. Maybe my good isn't your good isn't anyone's good. Maybe good isn't good except when it's good. Maybe it's the music that matters, and not the why. Maybe it's the person who matters, and not the why. And maybe this is how it should be, between friends.

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