Sunday, September 24, 2006

On Music

Two bloggers have tagged me for the currently circulating music meme, The Dread Pirate Rob at Musings of a Distractible Mind and Traveling Doc at Borneo Breezes. For the dwindling few of you who don’t know what a meme is (hint: short for me-me-me-me-me), a meme is a question or set of questions to encourage (or force) self-revelation. The current music meme asks for seven songs you are listening to right now, and instructs you to pass the meme on to seven more bloggers.

This morning I read OncRN’s response to this meme, and I loved her description of her attitude about memes. I agree. I am very self-revealing, but in my own way and time. I never feel like I can answer the questions correctly or completely; in fact I tend to want to argue with the questions.

So my answer to this meme is that I can’t answer what is asked. I will get around to some self-revelation here in a minute, but some discussion has to come first.

Many bloggers who have answered this meme have responded that “the iPod doesn’t lie.” So they produce a quick list from iPod and there you have it. Well…I don’t own an iPod. Or an MP3 player. Or a personal CD player. The majority of my life is spent either at home, where I have a lovely sound system, or at work, where I have no time or brain space for music. The distance from one to the other is less than one mile and takes less than 5 minutes to “commute”. If I am anywhere else, it is likely to be on a boat or snowmachine where it is too loud to listen to music, or on a dogsled where the only music I want to hear is panting dogs and whispering sled runners. So this technology that provides music in your ears everywhere you go and up-to-the-minute access of all that’s new and hot on the cutting edge is simply not part of my life.

Dare I tell you? I don’t even own a cell phone. The service in Bethel is pretty Neanderthal; no digital is available, only analog. That means no caller ID, no different ring tones for different callers, no voice-mail messaging, no camera capability, and no use whatsoever more than five miles out of Bethel. It simply does not work if you’re up the river fishing or if you fly over to Anchorage. I do wear a beeper on work days and can always be reached by the hospital operator when anyone needs to page me. That is enough of a leash.

Back in the days when I lived in cities…Spokane, Seattle, Chapel Hill, Santa Monica…one of my favorite weekend pastimes was book store and record store browsing. I especially loved smaller, non-franchise type record stores with knowledgeable, helpful staff and listening booths where you could preview new stuff before you bought it. I’ve always had pretty widely varied and somewhat eclectic tastes in music.

Forget listening booths; Bethel doesn’t even have a record store. Or a book store. OK, there is a single stand-up, turn-around rack in the grocery store with some CDs on it—a selection that you might find at a truck stop in Montana. Not exactly the cutting edge of the music industry in any genre. And the helpful and knowledgeable guy who is ready to make suggestions for new stuff to listen to based on what he already knows you like? No, he doesn’t work there.

Well, what about radio, you ask. Radio is a reasonable way to keep up with what’s going on in the music world. But not in Bethel. We have two radio stations. Period. One is an FM religious station (no thanks). The other is an AM station that is the bag lady of radio. They broadcast a little bit of NPR (portions of Morning Edition and All Things Considered), local news (excellently done by Henry’s niece Andrea the news director), charmingly (!) local programming like the Birthday Call In show (thirty minutes of people calling in to wish someone a happy birthday, five days a week), and in-your-face political analysis/talk radio such as the weekly Talk Line (which Dutch refers to as the Dumb and Dumber Show). Every other Tuesday night, they broadcast gavel-to-gavel coverage of the full four to six hours long city council meeting for an evening of edge-of-your-chair excitement. Sprinkled in amongst these gems is some music programming, often chosen and hosted by local people who do not have careers in broadcasting or journalism or music, but just want to do an occasional radio DJ gig. You can actually do that in Bethel. Some of them are even pretty good. But as a source of information about the latest and greatest in popular music, our local radio station isn’t quite it.

OK, yes, there is the internet. Somehow I have not managed to get the whole streaming thing down yet. Maybe I haven’t tried hard enough. One thing that I have noticed in general is that aging has a tempering effect on that fire in the belly to always be on top of what’s newest and hottest in those areas of life that are strictly part of the Comfort Zone. Things like food, music, clothes, movies and probably lots more; familiar is comfortable to many of us fifty-somethings, and the search for new-and-hot is less urgent than it was twenty or thirty years ago.

Music has the ability to evoke memory almost as intensely as smell does. I can listen to classic rock of the late sixties (Chicago; Blood, Sweat and Tears; Earth, Wind and Fire) and be right back in high school. Let me hear early Beatles songs and I’m twelve years old again (yes, nephew, that was Paul McCartney’s group before Wings). And the Big Band sound of the forties brings back images of my parents jitterbugging in the living room when I was five. I love them all.

I studied piano from adolescence through college and love classical music. I played guitar in high school, and love folk music. I dated a fiddle player in graduate school and learned to love bluegrass and string band music. Jazz, blues, Motown, yeah…love ‘em. I majored in theatre in college, so—Broadway musicals! Right there! I can sing the lyrics to dozens (though with my voice, you don’t really want me to).

The one area of music I’ve never really liked is the loud and screeching category. Cacophony. Whether it is heavy metal or Bartok. I’ve never been fond of rap, though the ER Nurse Rap from the UAB Medical Center (thanks, Grunt Doc!) is truly great.

So, back to the music meme (finally!). All of the above is by way of explaining to you how it is that I am a retro-grouch in a technologically challenged environment. I don’t listen to single songs; at best I listen to entire CDs, which I still call albums, though I no longer have a record player.

Some of my favorite artists to listen to, in no particular order:
Tina Turner
James Taylor
Norah Jones
Josh Groban
Tingstad and Rumbel
The Pointer Sisters
Manhattan Transfer
k.d. lang
Tracy Chapman
Phoebe Snow
Elton John
Indigo Girls
Simon and Garfunkel
Cleo Laine
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Leo Kottke

And classical: just about anything by Chopin, Mozart, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Lizst. Any piano played by Van Cliburn or Rubenstein. Any violin played by Perlman. Any cello played by Yo-Yo Ma. Any flute played by Jean-Pierre Rampal.

So have I answered the meme? Essentially, no. Have I been compliant with the spirit of the meme and been self-revealing on the subject in question? Definitely, yes. And as for the seven others to pass it on too…Ob-Gyn Kenobi, Health Psych, Navel-gazing Midwife, TBTAM, Intueri, Wandering Visitor, and Tales from the Emergency Room.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous wolfbaby said...

That sounds like a great list to me!!!... i don't have any of that fancy gear either and i live in the midwest... LOL.. but i do get lucky with the radio stations;)

Sunday, September 24, 2006 6:33:00 PM  
Blogger Borneo Breezes said...

I like what you did with the meme--never heard that word before blogs and really is tagging cultural? But I think I got the lowdown on how music fits into your life.

Monday, September 25, 2006 3:53:00 AM  
Anonymous ozziedoc the 4th yr med student said...

Another wonderful post. I have access to all the technology going, but prefer to avoid it.
Have you considered doing a medically themed 1/2 hour radio programme? Sounds like they need you!

Monday, September 25, 2006 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger TBTAM said...

thanks for the tag - this is going to be fun!

Monday, September 25, 2006 7:11:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Doctor said...

Uhm, this post is pretty revealing, whether you wanted it to be or not.

TBTAM is back? Oh how I missed her. I'm gonna go check it out right now. :)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 3:52:00 PM  
Blogger healthpsych said...

Thanks for the tag.

Hmm. Now I get to embarass myself by revealing my musical taste (or lack of it depending on the viewpoint) :)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Where's the Judas Priest?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006 8:21:00 PM  
Blogger always learning said...

Doh!

I was just reading your post, thinking, hey, nice taste in music! Definitely didn't expect the tag (and it's 2months later!) :D

Josh Groban has an amazing voice! Have you ever listened to Charlotte Church?

Thursday, November 23, 2006 7:24:00 PM  

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