I used to have this ridiculous habit of obsessing about what music should be playing when a person comes to the house for a visit. Hours might be spent standing in front of the giant rack of CDs (and before that, LPs) in the search for the “perfect” recording. What “perfect” means I really do not know. It was of course different for every visitor, because not everybody wants to hear cat shrieks simulated with tenor saxophones, giant walls of distorted electric guitar, or explorations of the resonances generated by refrigerator compressors. For whatever reason, the selection seemed very important to me. Why? I’m not sure (yet).
Now that I’ve brought this up, I realize that I do a similar thing with reading material. If there’s an article that I’ve found particularly interesting, or a great book I’m making my way through (or have recently finished), I like to leave it out in the open for all visitors to see.
Is there some pretension going on here? Am I trying to make myself seem more hip, or more literary, than I really am?
The answer is a definite “No.” While I might be proud of having a copy of a magazine on my coffee table that features a cover photo of one oddball or another, the truth of the matter is that by this action, I’m attempting to start a conversation. The question in my mind is this — “Hey, have you ever heard about this?” I’ve always been something of an evangelist about music, and am genuinely disappointed when I can’t get a person interested in something new. It’s hard for me to believe that a person’s curiosity can be squelched by time and/or circumstances, and yet it seems to happen to most people.
A little while back, I subscribed to the magazine The Wire. Each issue is a new treasure trove of “out.” Now that I’m a subscriber, I get access to their entire online archive. I’m afraid that I may visit the archive and never make it back out! This is exactly the kind of thing I’d want sitting out for friend to check out. It’s full of articles and interviews with interesting musicians. Or at least…musicians that I’m interested in.
But I guarantee you that any conversation generated by this material will be quite short-lived. It’s not even just attention spans. It’s comfort levels. Most folks are just not interested in pushing their own boundaries. It’s kind of a shame.
P.S. Books found on my coffee table: American Dreams: Lost & Found – Studs Terkel; Weird New England – Citro, Moran,Sceurman; Good Bones and Simple Murders – Margaret Atwood; Life – Keith Richards.