Friday, 18 May 2012
When I was a child, I didn’t really listen much to music. I read. Or played. Music was background noise for adults.
My brothers, I thought, had horrible taste in music: loud, ear-deafening, dark screaming vibrated from their teenage bedrooms. Consequently, thinking contemporary music to be all of this ilk, I shied away from the music of my or nearby generations. I preferred my mother’s penchant for the romantic ballad or even the military marches my father played on the 8-track cassette deck of his late 1970s Cadillac.
I only remember enjoying one album as a child: something by Cat Stevens. My parents would put it on the record player in the evening, and I would listen to the friendly man sing whilst I ran barefoot on the grass in the backyard giggling at the moon as it chased me. Cat Stevens always reminds me of a full moon and soft grass underfoot.
Maybe it was the record player itself that put me off embracing melodic adventure: records were sensitive things that had to be held with care; once you had fitted the record snugly in place, the next challenge was to gently lower the needle onto the rotating vinyl. I hated even just watching this process; I was certain a hand was going to slip, and the record would be scratched forever. God forbid I be given the responsibility to lower the needle. I was a kid who was afraid to get ice cream cones – preferring the cups – because I always managed to see a ball of ice cream spill off and roll under the driver's seat of my father's Cadillac (Shhhh. Don't tell; I never did.)
Whatever the source, I’ve never had the most keen ear. I do enjoy a good song – and when I find an album that I like, I will play it over and over and over again (just like my mom with those romantic ballads and my father with those military marches – I wouldn’t know about my brothers though; I couldn’t discern one album from another).
What I definitely know about music I enjoy: when I do listen, I can’t do anything else. I can’t read or write or study. Maybe I can fill in my timesheets, or cook … I suppose I can chop an onion and sing along to Sonny and Cher. That is just about it, though.
I have always been a bit in awe, and a bit jealous, by what seems to be the whole general populous’ ability to listen to music whilst supposedly concentrating on something else. I cannot comprehend ho those types who purport to ‘live for music’ are able to appreciate it by giving it their full attention whilst putting some of their attention elsewhere.
Do you listen and read / write / study concurrently? Do you do it well?