Music and Me Through the Ages
Posted on May 16, 2012
I am NOT a music nerd. I have music nerd friends. My wifesy is a music nerd. My brother is a music nerd and a music teacher. I like music, but I’m very sad to say that I’ve become a bit of music-tardo. I hear something and I like it, but I can’t name the group or the song title, most of the time. Wifesy and I have a running joke and it is – sometimes I don’t know the difference between Led Zeppelin and Def Leppard. Of course, I know now because Wifesy has found this eccentricity of mine appalling and I have thus been schooled. Led Zeppelin is the groundbreaking British band with one of the best guitarists in the world and Def Leppard is a hair band with a drummer with one arm. See, I do know. I don’t know why I confuse the two in the first place. I think it’s because their names sound similar to me.
It’s become hilarious around our household. I just called up to Wifesy, just now. She’s getting ready in the loft area of our lodge and I said:
“Led Zeppelin is the ground breaking British band and Def Leppard is the hair band with a couple of hits.”
“Oh, my god,” said Wifesy. “This is tragic. Tragic. I can’t believe I’m still explaining this. Tragic.”
I laugh. (I think there’s part of me that enjoys this.) “Well, I want to make sure I say it right in my post.”
“Yes,” she said. “That’s correct. It’s like this: Led Zeppelin is George Carlin and Def Leppard is Howie Mandel.”
Oh, okay. Now she’s speaking in a language I can understand.
We’re very different in this way. Wifesy has always loved music. It surges through her body like an electrical source. I dig music, but when someone tells me a good story – in particular a good story that is funny – I practically levitate.
I’m drinking out of a coffee mug right now. It has Stevie Nicks lyrics on it. It’s hand painted by Wifesy’s best childhood friend and I love it because it holds the perfect quantity of my morning joe. This hand crafted Stevie Nicks mug is of no surprise to me because I’m pretty sure Wifesy thought she was Stevie Nicks as a child. She was religious in her pursuit of the Nicks. Wifesy was a singer and went on to run a recording studio before becoming a vet. As a child, I thought I was Harriet the Spy. I carried around a small notebook and wrote down everything that everyone said. I’m still writing things down. So, watch out if you talk to me.
I call up to Wifesy a second time, “What was the name of Stevie Nick’s band again?”
Wifesy practically throws herself off the balcony. (Honestly, she sounded like she’d been hit.) “FLEETWOOD MAC. FLEETWOOD MAC!” She yells.
And I know that, but somehow it doesn’t always stick. Band names. Song names. I can’t recall it quickly like I can recall every good story I’ve ever heard and every good comedian I’ve ever liked. I can even do this thing where I put on Sirius satellite radio – tuned to the comedy channel – I cover the display and I can guess 9 out of 10 comedians by the voice and the bit. It’s just how we are wired, I suppose.
Now, I played some music as a kid. Truth be told, I played the cello. I kind of hated the cello. My parents were not well off when we started living on Long Island after moving from Queens. I had to play the cello because my parents couldn’t afford to rent a band instrument and I wanted to play in the band. Seriously. I think the band instrument was like a $50 rental FOR THE YEAR. And yet, it was still too steep. So, I had to play an orchestra instrument, which I think rented for like $25. I tried to go for the violin or the viola, but they were all taken. I was left with my cello. When I went to pick it up we looked at each other like a chubby girl and an awkward boy with a skin disorder would. We were forced to dance together because everyone else had already been paired off.
But, we made the best of it. The worst part was lugging him around. In grade school, you only received one cello. So, you had to lug it to school and lug it back home to practice. I was 11ish, so the cello and I were the same size. Imagine a date you’re not really fond of and now you have to carry the fecker to and from the dance floor, which is about a mile away. We’re all lucky I didn’t smash it into a million pieces. But, I didn’t. I ended up becoming sort of good at it. I was either good at it or no one else was playing the cello. It was one or the other. I say that because at the first opportunity, I gave it up. I played from around 3rd grade when you choose an instrument through until 9th. In high school, I gave it up. I almost continued because Fame had come out and that girl played the electric cello and almost made it seem cool. That and the orchestra teacher approached me and told me he would give me an automatic A if I joined them. For a millisecond, I felt like those boys who are good at sports, but like other things too and get stalked by the coaches. “Play for me and I’ll get you a car and all the tail you can handle,” he seemed to be saying. But, I gave it up anyway. You have to like what you’re doing. I learned that lesson early.
My parents were strict and going to concerts was tough. So, don’t judge me, but my first concert was Menudo. My early association with Menudo is the reason both Ricky Martin and I are gay. Not really, but I think it would be nice if the ultra-conservatives pointed their energies somewhere else and I think Menudo is a good target. Let’s blame Menudo – for EVERYTHING. The middle east crisis – Menudo’s fault. The economic depression – Menudo danced all the money away. The skinny jean trend? Menudo caused it with their tight pants and moose knuckles. In reality, Menudo was my first “chaperoned” concert. My cousin was boy crazy and in love with all of them, so my aunt offered to take us. I think I went just to get out of the house. Plus, it was a trip to the city and that for me was always cool. The first concert I went to, of my own volition, was Heart. There, see, do I at least get some credit back for that one? Heart was a very good first concert choice if you ask me and if they’re playing nearby, I’d still go and see them today.
I think you can guess which concert was Wifesy’s first. It was Fleetwood Mac, of course. She followed that up with both Prince and Berlin. I was not as cool as Wifesy, but I can tell you, I was funnier. At least that’s what I try to tell myself.
Apparently, music can help take certain people out of a catatonic state. I watched this incredible video, below, and was blown away by the transformation in the elderly man. Just yesterday, I heard a great piece on NPR about how they’re now using storytelling to help people with dementia. Interesting, isn’t it? It would seem that both music and storytelling are doing the same things to the brain, only through different mediums. So, when Wifesy and I are in the old age home together…if we go loopy, play her some Fleetwood Mac and spin me a good yarn. We’ll come back to the present, right away.
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