Julien tagged me with this “seven songs” meme, where I’m supposed to talk about seven songs I’m enjoying right now, and to spread the love about them.
You see, I have this weird relationship with music. It’s not that I don’t like it – quite the contrary. It’s just that everything about music has always been very private to me, including what I like, what I’m listening to, and how I experience it.
It goes back to my childhood. I come from a very non-musical family. Nobody played any instruments, at all. Nobody even sang, not even in church.
Not that we didn’t try occasionally. For example, when I was about ten, my mother acquired an old six string acoustic guitar and some kind of “teach yourself” sheet music. Each evening she’d go into the back room of the house and plink plink plink away while the rest of us sat in the living room, red faced. Sometimes I’d go outside and conspicuously stand in the back yard so the neighbours would know that the sounds coming from that back room window were not being made by me.
She gave up after a few weeks.
We had one of those 1960s style console stereos in the living room – the kind that’s primarily a piece of furniture but if you lift the lid you find a crappy turntable and amplifier inside. The only records we owned were a handful of country & western compilations issued by Reader’s Digest. Bad as that sounds, it was moot as we never, ever played them.
But my Dad had one musical ritual that he stuck to. He owned a cassette tape of Christmas songs sung by a European duo that no one I knew had ever heard of. Every Christmas season there would be a day, usually a Sunday, in which Dad would go into his bedroom and dig the tape and the old Radio Shack cassette player out of his bottom drawer. He’d come back to the dining room, methodically unwind the power cord for the tape machine, plug it into the wall, insert the cassette, and press “play.” Then he’d sit there and listen. About 30 minutes later he’d flip the tape and listen to the other side. Then he would eject the cassette, unplug the machine, wrap up the cord, and say “Well, that’s really something” before putting it all back into his bottom drawer for another year.
By the time I was a teenager, I had managed to convince my parents that the living room would look much better without that old console stereo, and that I just happened to have space for it in my bedroom. I then commenced to buy record albums. Unfortunately, most of my friends were no better off than me when it came to music, so I didn’t exactly have much to go on by way of references.
My first album was something from BTO, which I played over and over. There was something about the simplicity and predictability of those three-chord rock songs that stuck with me. Very formulaic, but for the first time ever, I understood music and could even use the formula to make up songs in my head.
Then it was KISS. (Yeah, yeah, keep laughing, see if I care.) I was nuts about KISS because I saw them as chaotic and somewhat insane, which was a nice tonic against the banality of my everyday existence. From there my tastes grew slightly more sophisticated – when I first heard The Police’s “Message in a Bottle” on the radio I felt like the roof had been torn off my monochrome world and the color was finally shining through.
Then there was the Led Zeppelin phase. While other kids were out smoking pot and tripping on acid, I was at home in my room convulsing to the psychotic and mind bending riffs of Jimmy Page’s guitar as they ground into my brain at skull cracking volume through my cheap Radio Shack headphones.
Throughout all this, I almost never discussed the music I was listening to with my friends. As I’ve already mentioned, most of them were very unmusical too, so music simply wasn’t something we ever talked about. As a result, music became a very personal thing to me, to the point that when someone asked me what I liked, or what records I owned, I found it embarrassing and I didn’t want to talk about it.
I never really got over that.
I am fortunate now in that the woman I live with has interesting and eclectic taste and a pretty extensive music library. When it comes time to play music at home, I always defer to her and she rarely disappoints.
So back to the original question: what are seven songs I’m enjoying right now? My answer is that I have no idea. Every day it’s something different, and it’s always chosen by someone else (be it Martine at home, or the DJ on the radio, or whatever dreck is spilling out of American Idol). And frankly, I like it that way.