“Do you listen to music when you read?”
I have quickly become fond of that question, using it at parties and events, on old friends and new. As far as questions go, it checks all the right boxes. At least my boxes. It covers two things that I care about – music and stories – and provides an answer that illuminates the nature of the respondent. And it opens up to a nice branching selection of follow-ups, each one that digs closer to someone’s why.
Listen to music when I read, that is.
But you’ve known that, or at least you’ve suspected it, for some time. I prefer headphones when reading, actually. Big, bulky, over-the-ear cans. They do well to block out distractions and my current pair are balanced enough that wearing them for hours on end is still comfortable. It’s easier to get lost that way.
But not too lost. I usually grab a stack of records along with my book, carting the whole lot over to my chair. Arguments about acoustics aside, having to flip an album every twenty minutes or so prevents my mind from wandering. Keeps that part in the back of my head that’s always brutally aware of time at least sated.
It was actually a record that sparked some remembering while reading earlier today. I recently picked up Fred Thomas’ “All Are Saved” – that brutal album that hit me far too hard a few years ago.
Back then I was listening to Fred’s record on digital. Played from a phone hooked up to a bluetooth speaker. I was in a different chair, hearing a different sound, in a different apartment all the way across town.
But the songs were the same. And, oddly enough, so was the book. Or at least the series. The book I was reading today City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett ends the trilogy I had started reading three years ago. I certainly hadn’t planned this. Both purchases, record and book, were sparked by separate emails.
The combination, though, put me at the other end of a memory, joining today with a moment from nearly three years ago. It’s strange, that amount. Three years – in some ways they were mere blinks where I haven’t accomplished nearly enough. In others, it’s hard to conceive how so much change has fit into such a small window. The whole world feels different now.
It feels, I feel like a lot has changed. You should see my cooking now. Or my house. And my chair.
Yet, almost three years and I’m listening to a different version of the same song and reading a continuation of the same story. The song, the story, even the chair, they’re nicer versions of what once was.
I’d go back. Given the choice, I would likely return. It was a line in the book that made me realized that.
“You asked me if I wanted to forget. The answer’s no. I want to keep it. Even if it hurts.”
She, the speaker in question, is right. Holding on to our pain is important. The hurt of our pasts inform our present and guide our future. Even if we don’t really change. Even if we just end up with nicer versions of the same songs we listened to yesterday.
We are what we are, until someone changes us.
But you probably knew that already.
And since I haven’t posted in a while, I’ve got some new records.
“Ne Me Quitte Pas” byJacque Brel
“Hunky Dory” by David Bowie
“musicforthemorningafter” by Pete Yorn
“Bringing It All Back Home” by Bob Dylan
“Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” by Wu Tang Clan
“The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators” by The 13th Floor Elevators
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