Missing

Raoser last posted that she missed my blog.  That made me feel nice.  The truth is, I miss it too.  I have thought of at least a half dozen blog posts over the last week, but have not posted any of them.  By the time the idea (usually thought of on the bike ride to work or as I’m trying to fall asleep at night) came to my fingertips at the computer, it didn’t seem so relevant or interesting (I know, I set a low bar for this, so consider how bad the ideas must have been).  And today is probably no different but I feel like posting.  Interest be damned.

Music.  I grew up with my music.  I thought my house growing up was grand and extravagant, but I realize now that it was just nice and of pretty average size for an upper middle class family in Madison.  Maybe even undersized for that family.  Though it never felt small for me.  It had no garage, but it had a “music room.”  Actually, I always thought of it as a Music Room.  In the unfinished basement, my dad had crafted a semi-finished room that housed his serious stereo equipment (including four floor speakers), bookshelfs full of records, bookshelfs full of books and lots of stuff in lots of places.  It had an unused fireplace and an unfinished, but beamed-in, ceiling.  I can picture it as if I’m sitting here today.  It was my dad’s sanctuary.

My dad listens to music like it’s medicine.  Or, more specifially, like it’s Oxygen.  I’ve always had some admiration for that.  I realized recently that my interest in music waxes and wanes.  I rarely, if ever, come home and want to listen to music.  I’d rather watch television or read.  I don’t do well listening to music at work — lyrical or classical — because it distracts me.  I have trouble not thinking about the music, which makes it hard to concentrate on the task at hand. 

There have been times when I’ve been really into music.  I can point to certain times when I couldn’t get enough: (1) the Footloose soundtrack in fourth grade; (2) the Beatles in general in 8th grade; (3) everything Buddy Holly-like in high school; (4) the Dead/Phish/Dave Matthews in early college; (5) the Neil Young/Eric Clapton/Bob Dylan college years; (6) all things Tom Petty for decades; (7) Cowboy Junkies for a lifetime; (8) Neko Case forever.   When I hear a song I know and love, or a new (to me) song that catches me offguard, I’m right back there.  I’m interested, captivated and — frankly — nearly paralyzed by the sounds I hear.  Right now, I find myself missing that because I’m, well, waning at the moment.  When I listen to music I like, I become seriously emotionally involved.  Tears, laughter and involvement are the norm.  So, right now, when I feel like I’m juggling a bit too much, I’m not totally interested in involving myself in the emotional work that is music.

Is that bad?  Is it ok?  I don’t know.  I just know that that’s how I am.  I think that if I had an actual “commute” of any sort, I might return to music and I might be able to separate myself a bit more.  Or if I went back to running.  I might, then, be able to separate music from total emotional investment or, maybe even better, enjoy some music that doesn’t involve such a commitment.  But I don’t know. 

I know right now, though, that I miss music.  If that makes any sense. 

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7 Responses to “Missing”


  1. 1 kayt July 14, 2010 at 3:20 am

    I’d never much thought about how similar our father’s use of music as a sanctuary was/is.

    And, yes, dance along with Kate and Lisa and Footloose…

    My coming to dance has helped us find common ground as it means we both create and perform in public, albeit with a different relationship to the music itself (music motivates my motion while it is the end result of his motivation and creative process).

    And yet, despite this huge role of music in my life…I also vacilate like you in not being that into music or in search of new music for long stretches at a time.

    (and, yeah, I saw Aaron Mandel over winter break…who has always been teh gold standard for me when it comes to friends who are heavily involved with listening to music. and makes me feel like the ultimate slacker…)

  2. 2 Kristin July 14, 2010 at 9:46 am

    I’ve had my ipod for about three or four years now, and for the past two I have not once listened to it on my commute (about 40 minutes on the subway), or on a plane, or the beach or anything. When I first realized I wasn’t using it anymore I felt a bit guilty, but really I could not be bothered.

    I’ve realized that more often than not these days I want to listen to music: 1. Out loud, and very loud. 2. When I can sing and dance along at will. 3. Most of the time with others who are also singing and dancing, or just appreciating, with me.

    And so I also don’t listen to it as much as I used to. Certainly not as much as in high school or college. But when I do – when I’m cooking, getting ready to go out, drunk – it’s so, so sweet.

    And my ipod has been relegated to this very cool DVD player my sister found for me that has a dock in the top so I can play music through my TV speakers. And there it stays. Thank you Steve Jobs for your very expensive memory stick. 😉

  3. 3 Raoser July 14, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Gosh I can relate. I feel like when we were in high school music was everywhere. People were always talking about new bands, or discovering old ones, going to concerts or making mix tapes for each other. Now I just listen to my dumb top 40’s or NPR on the radio when I drive around. The top 40’s are… just dreadful, although they can be useful in a mind-numbing way when stuck in traffic. NPR/KCRW does introduce me to some fun new music so that helps. And I learn a bunch of new songs when I’m at the dance studio. I even take my ipod on my walks or runs, but somehow it’s missing something.

    It’s not the same, though. There was a time when music was part of my growth, part of sharing and connecting, part of the exploration of becoming an adult. It’s obviously not that for me anymore, since I’m sort of… old, but it’s also my own fault because I don’t seek it out in that same way. It’s the seeking, the inspiration, the passion for new art or delving deep into the art of the old music I loved so much.

    Maybe it’s for similar reasons, because the emotional connection is so intense it’s almost painful. I know I tend to find ways to numb a lot of that with, as you said tv, or even socializing. In any case, music is art, and without it I feel less creative, less intuitive and less whole.

    I must add computers have killed a lot of it for me. I hate searching and downloading. I like mix tapes, and cd’s with jackets I can look at, and touch and learn about the artist or my friend. I hate searching and downloading. I hate sitting in front of my computer. But I should suck it up and search every once in a while. Maybe I’ll find something new moving. Maybe I’ll find something I used to love.

    All I know is Dire Straits’ “Romeo & Juliet” takes my right back to driving at night in the streets of Madison thinking about Nick Gansner. That just makes me giggle now. Maybe I’ll go listen to it and sink into a little nostalgia, for old times’ sake.

  4. 4 gracieandkate July 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I’m glad to hear I’m not alone.

    And Sarayu, I was thinking the same thing: I think the loss of the mix tape is a real loss for my exploration of new music. I just recently realized, though, that what I need to do more of — and just started doing — is downloading onto my iphone when I hear a song I like. For example, I was just watching Away We Go and there’s this great song and I’ve loved it since I first saw the movie and as I was distractingly fiddling with my phone while watching the flick, a lightbulb went off! Grab the song from the interwebs and it will be at my beck and call! Hooray.

  5. 5 Raoser July 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad you reminded me- I LOVE the music in that movie. I love that movie.

    I have Shazam which I love because I’ll tag a song and once I know what it is it lets me go straight to downloading it. I just hate trying to organize music on my iphone/ ipod. Every time I update my phone, I find myself re-doing it and the same song ends up on like 5 different mixes. It’s weird and tedious, but other than that, very awesome. I could of course just go directly to the entire song library, but sometimes that’s overwhelming. blah, blah, blah…

  6. 6 Mary July 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I almost wrote yesterday that I miss your blog. Am sorry I didn’t. I love your thoughts about music. All of you! I very much wish I could sink into it.

  7. 7 stephanie July 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I agree. I miss music too. It’s a lost pleasure these days and I don’t know why that happened. Part of it is I don’t have anything new that I love, part of it is home is chaotic and there’s too much else to do, and I like to listen to music alone generally. TV, NPR, etc. all seem easier and less concentration requiring, maybe less emotion requiring too.

    Your comments re: music as medicine caused me to recollect something from high school. My best friend (Holli) and I were totally totally into the Beatles and bought all the records on vinyl and would listen for hours and hours, talking about which albums and songs were best, etc. I still have my collection, inscense burns and all 🙂 At some point, we became so familiar and comforted by the songs, that we started to listen to the Beatles whenever we felt down or lonely or just overwhelmed. We called it “Beatle Therapy”. I still do that sometimes and it does wonders. So I think music can = medecine, definitely!


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