Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Day The Music Died

These days, everyone's got an Ipod and everyone's listening to them practically 24 hours a day. Many of my students arrive to my class "plugged in," and the first thing they have to do is yank the buds out of their ears and wind up the wires and stash all the equipment. (I have a "no electronic or digital equipment of any kind" rule in room 245, period. Even their calculators can record, store text, and serve as Cheating Devices. It's incredible. But I digress.)

I have an Ipod. I got it by default. My husband had it sent to him free as a promotional gift because he is a Cleveland Cavaliers season ticket holder. It's one of those Ipod Shuffles. I was the only one at the Dept. who didn't have an MP3 player, so I ended up with it. Rick loaded it up with a bunch of MP3's that were on our computers, leftovers from the Napster Frenzy of CD Burning, and I was presented with my Very Own Customized Collection of Music.

Which I almost never listen to.

I also rarely listen to the radio or CD player in my car, put on the stereo or radio in my house when alone, or listen to any music when I'm taking one of my 45-minute baths. Right now, I'm typing this post alone in my home office, and the only sound is the forced-air furnace and the tapping of my keyboard. I could put on a CD, bring up Pandora in a separate browser window, or turn on a radio. I could even stick the earbuds of my Ipod into my ear and listen to my favorite songs. But I won't.

It's odd, isn't it, this lack of music in my life? Sometimes I think about it and try to trace back to where it began. It's relatively recent, I think. I don't know when music stopped being pleasant and soothing and started to simply add to the cacophany of my life--serving as yet one more thing I had to think about.

Radio is the worst. Too many commercials and interruptions. And, no, I'm not going to start paying for radio. It's bad enough I have to pay for television. I'm not in my car long enough to really listen to radio much anyway. But if I actually would hear a song, it would be at the end or in the middle. Or, if I heard a song that I didn't feel like hearing, then I had to flip stations endlessly. It's too annoying. So, I gave up on radio, except for NPR, but when I found myself listening to someone droning on and on about--and I'm not kidding here--Norwegian Folk Metal Music--I realized that I was turning into something that wasn't fit for society. I leave the radio off.

And I don't even keep CDs in my car. Again, it's just become noise to me. A CD by one artist invariably contains one or two that I don't like. And then, I have to skip. Or, I get bored. Or I find myself trying to figure out irksome lyrics. Pretty soon, I'm driving and trying to get a handle on the music stuff.

I'd rather have the quiet. I'm a public school teacher in a building of over 2000 teenagers. My whole day is full of talk and chatter and humanity. But no music. I still wonder at my new aversion to music.

When I was younger, my taste in music was largely informed by my older sister, Patti. She was a child of the sixties and a Beatlemaniac. In addition to the Fab Five, she turned me on to artists like Three Dog Night, Carly Simon, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, Yes, Electric Light Orchestra, and The Moody Blues. I'm forever grateful for that.

Later, I listened to Seals and Crofts, Cat Stevens, and anything Elton John put out. I went through a brief KISS period (didn't everyone, now really!) and bought KISS Alive! on vinyl and wanted "to rock and roll all night and party every day." But I got over that and moved on to disco like everyone else and stopped following actual artists and sold out and just went to clubs and danced to horrid music that had an incredible backbeat.

But then came the Eighties, and that's the music that I really still love. Or loved? Or choose to listen to when I think of music. My Ipod has Duran Duran on it. And "Voices Carry" by Aimee Mann, then with Til Tuesday, and Flock of Seagulls and Thompson Twins and Bowie and Dire Straits and Fleetwood Mac (so 80s--they ruled the 80s) and Frankie Goes to Hollywood and George Michael (before all of that) and Rod Stewart and Talking Heads (come on, "Once in a Lifetime!?" listen to it!) and Wang Chung and The Cars.

Now? Hell, there's like, no one now. Music, quite frankly, stinks now. I hate most of it. Rap? Please. That's not music. It's nagging. If I want to hear someone yammer at me, I'll call my mother up and finally tell her some of the stuff I used to do in college. Awhile back, I liked Train. But their latest song is crappy. I liked Anna Nalick. But she only put out one album; I played it to death and her career is, apparently, dead. Not too long ago, Gina put up a video of a good song by a band, Aqualung. I liked it, so I had Rick download, er, get me some more songs by them. But I've only listened to them a couple of times and I don't like all of them. That's how it is with me and music. I get disappointed and I give up.

But, my point--and I believe I did have one and I am getting back to it--is this: at some point, the music left my life. I find it disconcerting and aggravating to listen to any kind of music. I am bewildered by the number of my peers for whom music is still a large part of their lives. I wonder if silence is anathema to them, or if they do balance the music with quiet. I realize I am in the minority; it is I who is the oddity.

And it wasn't always this way.


  1. I have a hard time with it too. I REALLY enjoy the quiet and spend a lot of my time alone in my car just thinking. I also get annoyed at trying to listen to the radio and just getting commercial after commercial. And they play the same songs over and over and over. I have an Ipod, but don't use it. It's just so tiring to try to figure it all out. It's easier to be quiet. But I do miss music sometimes.

  2. I have an mp3 player on my phone, and I generally listen to about a dozen songs, over and over again. It holds many more, but at any given time, there's only that many that I want to listen to. A song is added or subtracted about once each month, and occasionally I'll wipe it clean and get into new music, but it stays pretty constant. I'd post my playlist, but it's just a bunch of embarrassing pop and a few oddball songs.

    When do I listen to music? When I'm walking somewhere. Or when I'm on public transportation. Or when I'm (hula) hooping. I find myself commuting, walking and traveling so often that I need something to keep me from getting bored.

    And no, zoning out isn't an option. I do that during math lectures ;-)

  3. Rap is not music- it's nagging...
    That is absolutely hilarious!

  4. Anonymous9:26 PM

    I do like some of the music that is NOW, but my iPod is loaded almost completely with old stuff I've "rediscovered" from listening to my XM Radio's "70s Channel". Tonight I've listened to Chaka Khan and Rufus, Bob Welch, Cass Elliot, Eddie Kendricks, the Isley Brothers and Leon Russell. Yes...I'm a fossil.

  5. I know you already mentioned it, but I highly recommend Pandora, because it will give you new artists in the same vein as music you already identify with.

    But, if it is silence you desire, then no music is going to do it for you.

  6. Anonymous10:43 PM

    I knew there was a reason I identified with you. I can't bear to listen to music anymore. Too many years of teenagers perhaps.

  7. I love music. I love my CD player in my car. I love rap...well, some of it...mostly old school. Hate metal (just thought I'd mention that). Don't think I'll be getting an IPod.

  8. Anonymous9:52 AM

    I was very into music until I had kids, and then I put it aside for a long time, mostly because I really LISTEN to music, it's not background to me. I don't like anyone to interrupt or distract me from it. You can see why music and kids don't go together in my life.

    My husband bought me an iPod and I'm completely plugged in. I love how small and portable it is, how it sends my music straight to my brain, and tunes everyone else OUT. I don't read on buses and trains because I need to pay attention so I don't miss my stop, but I can listen to my iPod and be oh-so-happy.

    I love John Mayer, Counting Crows, the Dixie Chicks, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Sheryl Crow, Lyle Lovett, John Mellencamp, Green Day, U2, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Steve Winwood, and even Justin Timberlake. I haven't found a hip-hop artist I like yet, but I'm looking. The song Kanye West did with John Mayer intrigued me.

    I often listen to one song over and over and over again. Listening to music inspires my art and my writing.

  9. I saw Duran Duran in concert in Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh and just in the last couple of years.
    I bumped into John Taylor and Nick Rhodes at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. It was crazy.

  10. danielle--i used to think john taylor was the cutest one. my sister had the hots for simon le bon, who she thought was "the bad boy." she always likes the bad boys.

    v-grrrl--i was under the impression that justin timberlake WAS hip-hop.

    tera--i had you figured for a r&b gal.

    plain jane--i bet we have more in common than just this. do you love brian williams? hate the current administration? like bunnies and pandas and koalas? think that men who wear hats indoors should receive a citation? SEE!?

    gina--i used to do pandora back in the day. sometimes, i still use it at christmastime during class when the kids are doing vocabulary. but not real often because they get pushy about it. "can i bring in a christmas cd?" invariably, it causes trouble. sometimes there are jehova's witnesses in the room, too, and that's an issue.

    wordgirl--i used to groove to chaka khan and rufus. "tell me somethin' good" is a classic that no one can stay still to.

    princess--once in a while i can get off a good one. but, honestly--doesn't it sound strident and cranky? who needs that?

    i.h.--those are the standard music times that most people are plugged in. i just can't do that. it's too much.

    mrs. who--but i find that i don't miss it. it's all very odd. i mean, it's not like i can't pull it out and turn it on and try to get used to it again. but right now, i just don't have a place for it. i'm just sort of bewildered as to why.

  11. Funny, I was cooking earlier and considered getting my ipod because it was so quiet in the kitchen. But then I realized I was enjoying the quiet and didn't bother. You are not alone.

  12. scarlet--i'm not afraid of the quiet, and i truly enjoy being alone. i realize much of it is due to my career. now, when i'm cooking, i need the quiet because i'm constantly having an internal monologue of The Nance Cooking Show going on inside my head. seriously--i need to cut back on my Food Network viewing. it's obviously a problem.

  13. The only radio I listen to is the 15 minutes before I leave for class in the morning (I have my alarm set to radio). In my car, I listen to CDs, but I only listen to my favorites because I like singing along.

    But at home? Almost never. One of my roommates almost always has music on, and I think that would drive me nuts. I like my quiet time, especially now that I have roommates around all the time who are inevitably talking. I sometimes, very rarely, listen to classical music when I'm trying to buckle down and study hard.

  14. I love music! I'm not too picky becuase I mostly like "music" not song lyrics. So I don't pay much attention to those. I hate music radio, love talk radio. But the only talk radio I really listen to is republican talk radio. Then I have to listen to my husband call me a closet republican and hear all about what an awful person I am. Really, I'm just trying to get a grip on what the "other side" is up to. I call that being smart, he calls it cheating. Anyway, I used to love my car cd player, especially the 6 disk changer. But that died a year or so ago and is still waiting to be repaired. The single disk player is on the the fritz and only plays sometime so I hardly even try to make that work anymore. I love my mp3 player, it's pretty fancy and does lots of cool stuff. But I don't use it to often becuase I forget that I even have it.

    *I had lots of debates with students about mp3 players in your building today. I hate that conversation. Just put them away!!!

    Whew! I've said too much...I'm tired now.

  15. One more thing...I'm liking this layout!

  16. Oh Nance, but I do LOVE R&B! I probably know just about any song that comes on the radio...that sations I listen to of course (shut up Nina)! :)

  17. I love my iPod, but, when I'm home alone, I listen to podcasts. I am mad for (the new) Battlestar Galactica, and one of the creators does a podcast to accompany each episode. It's a bit loopy, since I'm not watching. Oh well.

    The iPod music is absolutely required for long car trips.

  18. nancy in a2--i can't imagine listening to someone talk about something i'm not even watching! how funny!

    tera--so, i was right! just a feeling i had.

    nina--my husband scouts the competition as well. i leave that to him; it infuriates me too much to listen to those idiots. i get steamed up enough watching meet the press. and thanks for mentioning the new color scheme. i like it pretty well, too. sorta preppy, but sorta sophisticated and stylish without being real boring. at least that was what i was going for.

    jen--with lots of roommates and lots of talking and lots of different musical tastes, you probably will either use earbuds a lot more or cherish a little silence a lot more!


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