The River's Badge

Friday, August 5, 2011

Music and Memory


I've begun to wonder...

Why don't I listen to music anymore?

I mean, I could listen to music. After all, it's just a click away. And when I do listen to music, it's an enjoyable experience.

For me, as a so-called musical person, something just seems off-kilter.

I could click on some tracks right now, and I would be transformed. But I hardly ever do it.

Is it because the choices are so plentiful that I wouldn't know where to begin?

When I was a kid, I didn't have much physical music. In fact, I would wait impatiently for my big brother to go somewhere, anywhere, so I could sneak into his room and play his records. That was a thrill for me. "Rubber Soul" - absolute heaven.

It was exciting. Maybe it was all the cloak and dagger stuff, but I don't really think so.

I could click on some of those tracks right now (yes, I have them all), and I would still feel that little stab in my heart; the same one that I felt all those years ago, when I would carefully place the needle on the turntable.

Which leads me to wonder....is it the music, or is it the memory?

I really believe that they're tied together, inevitably. I think that's why music doesn't mean as much to me anymore.

There are certain songs that, when I hear them, I'm immediately transported back to a certain place; the feelings I was feeling; the actual physical place where that song became lodged inside my heart, or at least my subconscious. What I was doing when that happened.

Those things don't happen to me anymore. And here's why....

Life is sort of a "get by, day-to-day thing", in all honesty. I get up; I put my makeup on; I go downstairs and make breakfast for my "kids" (Josie and Bob); I ride with my husband to work. I work. I go home. I make supper for the kids and for us. I check out the net; I watch a little TV news; I go to bed.

Where is the memory-making opportunity? It's not there.

I'm not out, riding around in a '70 blue Malibu, at midnight, with the AM station turned up as high as those knobs will turn; heady with the smell of the sweet grass; there, along the banks of the Missouri. Itching and ready to find out what will happen next. And if nothing happens, well, we still laugh a lot, and we still have those songs.

And, really, that's what music is about, I've come to believe. It's not for "us" (the "us" that we are now). It's for the us that used to be.

When you hear some old person harping on the songs of yore, cut them a little slack. They're just like you, really. Except that Katy Perry is Karen Carpenter.

Us oldies have to find a new reality in music. It's hard-fought, though. Maybe we're jaded. Maybe the musical past was so much better, filtered through our young ears.

Maybe the music is really beside the point.

Maybe, after all, it's not really the music. It's the memory.

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