Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tuning Up

This time I'm not even going to bother apologizing for not writing here for so long. Anyone who knows me understands it has been an insanely busy time, and that most of my days have been spent writing in various forms so that when I do have free time, words only seem to come out of me in what seem like meaningless little dribbles. I find myself somewhat inarticulate in conversation these days for that reason, searching for the right words I would normally have at the ready. The high roller vocabulary has been used up for other purposes and I'm only left with spare change when I can manage to form cohesive sentences. I don't love it. My number one New Year's resolution for next year is more literary balance.

But one thing I am changing right here and now is listening to more music. It's hard to believe that at one time in my life music was so important to me that it informed much of the structure of my day - from what would be played upon awakening, to dressing and primping, to accompany cooking and meals, to take with me in transit, to recreation. Somehow that went away. I don't know if that was depression or simply a change in routine, but I am amazed that sometimes whole days go by when I don't listen to an album in full. That's very unlike me. At least it would have been.

Last week I was writing a cocktail article and decided to challenge myself by naming every drink after a song or musical term, to get me back in the groove. One drink was inspired by "One Rainy Wish" by Jimi Hendrix, because despite mostly brownish liquids, when shaken together, they were sort of a burnt gold. Which got me thinking about golden roses. Which got me thinking about a rather peculiar, funny dream about a good friend. Which got me thinking about that song - "Golden rose/the color of the dream I had." How long it has been since I heard that song! WHY has it been so long since I heard that song? I used to listen to Jimi all the time.

Sure, Jimi is everywhere, especially if you go to bars as often as I do, and I am always happy to hear that sharp guitar and the clear, warm cadence of his voice. But how long had it been since I had actively chosen a Jimi Hendrix song and pressed PLAY? It turns out at least twelve years. When my husband and I split, he took most of our classic rock album/CD collection with him. Jimi was one of the first artists we ever bonded over, and though I eventually replaced most of what he took, I never bothered with Hendrix.

Coincidentally, yesterday would have been my 17th wedding anniversary. It was a day very much like yesterday was - sunny, crisp, warm during the day, cool at night. The sort of day that reminds me of "Golden Brown" by the Stranglers (yes I know that tune has nothing at all to do about weather or autumn or leaves, but crisp autumn weather always inspires that tune just as the first stark, cold day of winter always begs for "Desire" by Talk Talk.) For several years October 12th has passed with barely a thought beyond "Oh, yeah. That happened." However, yesterday got me thinking about all the things in my life I have now that I wouldn't if I had stayed married. How grateful I am for those people and experiences, especially the day after knocking down whisky with Scotsmen after a big booze convention! The only thing I was really missing about my ex was our intense musical connection. It was time to listen to Jimi again.

Silvermine, CT fall of 2012

I had a long talk with my friend John over a backyard fire pit last night about him - and I recalled the first time I remember ever hearing his sound - in a Sam Goody record store in Westport, CT when I was six! I had grown up in a mostly classical and musical theater household. Though they were exactly the right age for it, somehow the music of the 1960's, Woodstock and the Summer of Love completely bypassed my parents' cultural existence, so there wasn't a whole lot of crunchy guitar in my environment yet. This was a completely new and interesting intonation to me. I was with my father, who was picking out some classical records, and said I could choose one thing for myself. However when I asked for what they were playing, I wasn't allowed. My dad HATED it, and he didn't want to have to hear that "noise" blasting out of my bedroom. At least not yet. Six-year-old girls grow into twelve-year-olds and he must have known there was time enough for music like that in our lives. For now, something less offensive to his ears. What did I end up taking home that day instead? I don't remember. Maybe I'm afraid to remember. So much bad music existed in 1977 for me before I knew there was good music. It was probably a K-Tel compilation that included a disco rendition of the Star Wars theme.

I didn't end up buying my first Jimi disc till high school, a greatest hits compilation. It was actually one of the first CD's I ever purchased instead of vinyl. That was one of the discs that ended up on the truck to West Virginia, where my future ex-husband was moving. This was before one could easily attain any piece of music from the Internet, mind. A rule had been made that whoever gets possession of a certain artist's music gets the entire catalog, not individual albums, despite who had them first. So he had brought most of the Hendrix to the relationship - Axis: Bold as Love, Electric Ladyland, Are You Experienced?, Valleys of Neptune. Mine went with him. It was a stupid rule, but we had been arguing incessantly for nearly ten years. I think our music collection had been keeping us together for as long as we stayed. Now I just wanted it to end. Fine. Take it. For peace sakes, take it. Take it all.

I'm glad it's time again. Gotta love the cycle of autumn. I owe it to my ears to keep them happy.

Cheers, all!