Friday, November 6, 2009

It Chooses You (Part 2)

Music and the road have many unseverable connections for me. Ultimately, the fact that these things happen "on the road" (as opposed to when I am at home) is even more remarkable, and is tied up in all sorts of (probably) crazy things that I believe about my destiny, my purpose and my passions. I so enjoyed the family road trips of my youth that I am probably permanently damaged by them (or perceived as such by others). An inexplicable fondness for an I-40 rest area or any momentary romantic notion of McDonald's french fries would serve as ample evidence, I'm sure. I am so passionate about traveling by car to faraway destinations that I have for many years believed it must be an essential part of my destiny to do so. This passion would not have become so firmly cemented were it not for the inexorable connection it has with music, however. Without the innumerable songs that somehow have been and continue to be woven into my memories and experiences on the road, most of these would mean much less. It's possible that Abbey Road is only my favorite Beatles album BECAUSE of the fact that I heard it so many times on road trips. Would Sgt. Pepper be my favorite if it had filled that role instead?

Early this afternoon as I sat and awaited our departure from Houston, I thought about how I used to get so irritated with my parents for not being ready to leave for a day of driving in a timely manner (or what I & my brother DEEMED to be a timely manner). I hadn't thought about that in quite some time, and I realized that I had never pinpointed WHY I was so irritated by being made to wait. I truly disliked the delays because it meant LESS time in the car, and ultimately LESS time in headphones. You may ask at this point why I didn't just spend the time waiting in headphones, and the only answer I have is that, for me, it would have been like, "Oh, I'm sorry, it's going to be another two hours or so until we go to the gourmet mexican place. Here are some 7-11 nachos to tide you over." Literally, music with the road trip and music without the road trip were two different things, and when the knowledge exists that the latter will occur eventually, the former loses much of its luster.

It's funny, because I've heard a lot of criticism of the automobile lately as a place to listen to music. I think it's ridiculous. The closeness of the space allows the sound to behave more efficiently, I think. At least that's my experience. Certain records sound better in the car. I can still remember when I was in college, and my parents bought a Ford Explorer that had a ten-disc CD changer already installed. I wanted nothing more than to just drive around and listen to music in that thing for hours and hours on end. I got to drive it to Atlanta once, and it was one of the most enjoyable drives I've ever had with just me and the music.

Also, in my adult life, there have been many months and even years when most of my listening was done in the car. If I want time to sit and listen to music at home, I have to actively cultivate it (this is mostly done by staying up later than I should and losing sleep just to spend some quality time with the stereo and my record collection. However, this enables some enjoyment of music I otherwise might not ever access; see the Two Records, Two Beers entry).

Many days I feel like if I didn't have music to listen to in the car, I just would refuse to drive altogether. Mind you, I spend time in the car listening to podcasts and NPR as well, but many of the podcasts are directly related to music, and I really only turn on NPR in the car about once or twice a week.

Music in the car and music on the ROAD are two different things, though, and I really long for the days when twice a year, for days at a time, I would just sit in the back seat while my parents drove and jam out to my cassettes. Now, I trust my iPod to deliver, and many times it does. Perhaps more than ever, the music is choosing me, and it's entirely possible that it always has. Maybe the music that influences us, changes us the most is choosing us...Maybe there are reasons that Jefferson Starship was blowing my mind in 1984, Pink Floyd and They Might Be Giants in 1989, Frank Zappa and Aphex Twin in 1996, Wilco in 2005...and so many more throughout.

What music is choosing/has chosen you?

1 comment:

Jason said...

OK, so why haven't we hooked up for a road trip yet?