Every once in awhile I’ll talk to someone and the topic will turn to music.
“What kind of music are you into right now?” I ask, expecting any number of answers. I’m never surprised by someone’s musical tastes. Smooth Jazz? Great. Showtunes? Fabulous. Experimental Dissonant Finnish Warcries? Awesome. Still, though, I’m never quite prepared when people say:
“Oh, I don’t really listen to music.”
Whuzza huh? Excuse me, I’m sorry. I thought you just said you don’t listen to music, which would be crazy, because it’s music, right? Everybody listens to music. I know, stupid of me to think you would say…oh. That’s what you did say? That you don’t listen to music? Really? That’s what you said?
At that point, I’m not entirely sure that whoever I’m talking to is human. If I trick them, I think, possibly they’ll reveal themselves to being some kind of space-unicorn. A breed of shape-shifting mole person, possibly, that has made their way to the surface and made a fatal error in their human-disguise. I try to catch them with other tests of their humanity. “Great, that’s tubular,” I say. “And what are your thoughts on standard hydration? Do you drink things? How about air? What’s your favorite type of air to breathe? I usually prefer Clear Mountain but I have those days where Musty Basement really speaks to me.”
It’s about this point that the conversation ends.
I’m totally aware that music isn’t on everyone’s priority list. A love of music doesn’t always include listening to it. People don’t have time or money to buy CD’s and IPods. Their cars don’t have the radio, or when they’re alone at home with that dusty old piano, they rarely think to play or don’t remember how. I’m aware of this, but it doesn’t make it any easier to understand.
See, I have this theory that music is very much like food. It’s not the first time anyone’s made the connection:
But here’s where I differ. When people don’t get enough carbs, they crave bread and pasta and the Olive Garden in general. Their bodies instinctually seek out what they need. I find it’s very much the same with music. Example.
I’ve been hunting for some new music for awhile. It’s been weeks at least since my ITunes library has elicited that beautiful little chill associated with a really fantastic song, and so when Laura suggested a CD swap, I was enthusiastic about it. I filled her computer with The Postal Service and old Dishwalla albums from my brother, and little mixes featuring Ingrid Michaelson and Timbaland and Ke$ha, whom Laura reserves a special and hilarious ire for. On the drive home from her place, I plugged in my IPod and prepared to listen to what she had given me. I skipped forward to Carla Bruni, because Carla Bruni is a supermodel and the First Lady of France and I am of the firm opinion that it is illegal for people to be talented in too many ways at once, so I had to satisfy myself that she sucked at singing.
Oh my God you guys, she doesn’t.
As soon as I heard Bruni’s Raphael, I felt completely and totally satisfied, like I had needed that song for a long, long time without realizing it. I listened to it about twelve more times on that drive. Even though I couldn’t sing along with it I could feel all the chemicals in my brain fizzling and popping in direct reply. I felt like those people you see in movies, sitting in the symphony audience with their eyes shut, swaying slightly, their hands drifting around in the air like they meant to conduct but had suddenly forgotten to.
Except, y’know, I was in the car with my eyes open and my hands on the steering wheel, because otherwise I would kill people and go to jail forever.
Anyway, point is that when I heard that song, my body immediately shouted, “Yes! That’s what we needed! That’s what we’ve been looking for! Give us more of that!”
The confusing thing is that I don’t know that I would have loved Carla Bruni this much a year ago. At that point, I was really into The Presidents Of The United States Of America. I had just graduated college. I missed my friends. I missed the freedom and excitement of limited responsibility, and so whenever I heard the wild, cheerful strain of Froggy it was like a vitamin shot. I needed some fun and joy, and I got it out of music.
Now, though, I miss the intimacy of living with my significant other. The days are getting colder, and a little rainier. I’m craving a warm body next to me on the couch, and a kitchen full of steam and cooking smells. As summer starts drifting into winter and I find myself in an empty bed at night, I’m looking for a jolt of sweetness, easy relaxation and romance. Enter Carla Bruni.
So there. What I’m trying to say is that songs are vitamins for the soul. I can always identify my needs by seeing what music strikes a chord* in the pit of my stomach. Right now it’s Carla Bruni. During the vacation that we leave for on Thursday morning, it may be Muse or the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. When Taylor returns from his internship, I may go back to The Presidents, or maybe I’ll meander towards all the quiet guitar-y music that fits winter so well. I’ll let you know my prescription when it changes.
What kind of music are you into right now? Does it change a lot?