Life without — well, not as much — music

I recently remarked to a FaceBook friend that music plays a severely curtailed role in my current life

Truth is, though, I don’t listen to much music at all these days.  I sold 90% of my record collection, and I don’t even have a dedicated CD player (let alone MP3). I don’t think I’ve played a record since I moved here last August. I go out once a week or so, though, but it’s to listening rooms.

When the friend responded that she didn’t thing she could go lukewarm-turkey as I had, I rambled on. Here’s a slightly extended version:

For many years, when I didn’t have the phonograph on, I’d have a music station on the radio. Then I stopped listening to music radio, because it got too hard to find one that played anything I wanted to listen to.

Remember that for many years, music was my life. It wasn’t uncommon for me to be going out five nights a week; and if it wasn’t part of my job, I might go anyway just for the hell of it. That went on for decades. Same goes for records: though I got dozens of free promos per month (and kept maybe 1/3), I’d pay my own money for as many more — generally reissues and imports.

The newspaper I was working for went under in ’89, but I continued to freelance (among other things) a fair about of music stuff. But I wasn’t getting as many free tickets, and prices to everything larger than a club rose above what I could handle. And, of course, I was getting older.

In 2005, otherwise successful brain surgery cut off all hearing in my left ear; age had worked its wonders on my right. Since then, in many situations it’s been physically painful to listen to music in any but the most intimate live environment.

Not that I’ve given up on music.  The places I go these days generally seat (and I mean that I don’t stand anymore) fewer than 100 people, and the bands don’t play loud. I still have trouble with the lyrics. Some musician/friends play here from time to time; I see them. I’ve discovered a few new (to me) acts, and now seen them several times. Hell, I even bought the Salty Suites‘s CD the other night, though I mey never play it, just because I like them so much.

I seldom spend more than $15 cover, maybe a couple bucks for ice tea (sometimes dinner), and there’s always plenty of free parking.

There are exceptions to the “small club”/”must be seated” rule: since moving here I’ve seen The Monkees and Nashville Pussy, though not on the same bill; and a couple hours of the Ventura County Blues Festival — which, this being Ventura County, was headlined by Johnny Rivers and Savoy Brown.

My car radio buttons are all talk stations. While living in Hollywood, I had one for the jazz station, but we don’t have one of those here. I mainly listen to NPR-affiliated KCLU-FM. They play some music, generally late at night when I’m not listening; usually, it’s news and shows that sound kind of like “This American Life” (of which there’s a dazzling number).

I’m happy as can be. Still buy music DVDs from time to time — most recently, “Sound City” and the Eagles documentary. I’ll even watch them, one of these days. But for the most part, it’s TV. And sometimes, I shake my fist at the screen when the closed-captioning doesn’t work right.


One comment on “Life without — well, not as much — music

  1. marsa hightower says:

    Never liked large venues and sitting in the audience. Thus the move to publicist and the backstage life. The muted music; the stories. Handing out backstage passes and corraling photographers. These days, listen to vinyl, cassettes, CDs (yep, still have the equip) and try to enjoy hip hop. Not much luck thus far. I dance to the Stones on full volume with the vacuum running and the dog wisely hiding in a back room. Hope to be in Belize soon and sit in the sun at Crazy Canucks Beach Bar listening to the music of rock and roll ex-pats while sinking my feet in the sand.

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