1.01.2005

what i'm listening to

It occurred to me that I blog about what I'm reading, but never about what music I'm listening to - a testament to the tiny and inadequate claim music now makes on my life. As someone who once lived as much for music as for books, I feel this as a loss. Music doesn't fit naturally into my life as it used to. I have to make a special effort to listen, and too often, I don't.

Ever since Allan discovered the joys of file sharing, he's been announcing finds that might appeal to me and asking if he can download them for me. (Nothing right now on the mixed ethics of free downloads. I am a writer very concerned with copyright issues; suffice to say I have seriously mixed feelings.) In all the many reports of what was available, the first that really made my eyes light up was a 1978 Springsteen show: all 3.5 hours of it on DVD.

I'm coming to liberate you, confiscate you...

I was among the legions of high-school fans who impatiently awaited the resolution of The Boss's legal troubles, which would bring our first opportunity to see him. Sure, the critics and older folks had seen him in now-legendary club dates, but the kids were still waiting. I saw everyone in those days, concerts were a regular part of my life, but a Springsteen show existed on another plane entirely.

Watching the DVDs the other night, I was transported back to those breathless days... barefoot girls sitting on the hood of a Dodge drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain... and reminded how music can never again speak to us the way it does at that age. I don't ask - or expect - music to give me solace or guide me through or fill a void or offer escape the way I knew it could then.

Bruce's wild exuberance onstage was transporting. But of course I was never just a party girl, and his songs of loneliness and alienation and searching reached deep down. I was known to be a Stones fanatic, and Joni Mitchell will always be my idol, but only Springsteen brought those feelings together - the excitement and release of rock and the poetry that seems to spring from our own souls. How many 40-somethings do you know who carry the lyrics to Thunder Road in their wallet?

It's a town for losers, I'm pulling out of here to win...

When Allan and I met in 1985, I had no one in my life with whom to share my intense love of music. (No one to go to baseball games with, either.) Allan was doing college radio, caught up in REM (still very young and on the indie-college circuit) and other '80s roots-revival bands like The Blasters, Jason And The Scorchers and Los Lobos. He brought me those and I, from a slightly older sensibility - having been raised musically by my older siblings - brought him Dylan and The Band. And we had a lot of common ground in The Stones, especially Keith, Talking Heads, The Clash, The Ramones. From there, we explored blues, country, bluegrass, cajun, and any other traditional sounds we could find.

I understand nothing will ever feel like Springsteen did in those early days - not because the music isn't as good, but because I've grown up. But I'd give anything to stumble on new music that hits me the way REM did in 1985. The only thing close has been, maybe, Aimee Mann.

There's a lot of new(er) music that's very good and that I enjoy, but I'm hungering for something more. I want to hear something new that makes me want to shout from the rooftops, to annoy my friends by insisting they listen to this great new band. To run to my computer to announce it to you.

6 comments:

Kythryne said...

Have you heard anything by Over the Rhine? Their stuff is hit and miss, in my opinion, but when they're good, they're very, very good. Films for Radio and Good Dog Bad Dog are two of the albums I keep in very frequent rotation.

I'm quite certain I'm forgetting at least one other recent discovery, but I'm tired and can't figure out who it might be. I'll post again when I remember...

One of these days, we should really get around to that lunch we've been meaning to do for oh, the past year or so. :)

L-girl said...

Thanks for the tip, I'll see if I can check them out online. And yes, lunch! I'll email soon. :)

sleepybomb said...

i was lucky enough to see the boss in new orleans the summer of '75,all wide eyed and 19. that was the 1st time, but not the last.
i remember feeling like he was just one of us up there, one of the guys in the gang. he still has that effect on me, and his passion about music and the art of the song was very infectious.
he fired me up, and not long after i had a band. by the end of 79 we were opening for talking heads, the ramones, the police, yadayadayda, and now i am here.
i still can't get enuff music, and am still waiting breathlessly for the next big thing.
until then i have to be contented with the u2 show in san jose april 8. . . oh well . . .

L-girl said...

Very cool! Did you ever get up to the NYC area? What was the band's name? I may have seen you...

I saw Bruce many times after that, too - including the night John Lennon was killed, two things forever linked in my mind. He still floors me, too.

sleepybomb said...

we were the big fish in the little pond. just did the chitlin' circus! played from corpus christy, to key west, no further north than memphis. and the only pop band with a upright pianny.
we wrote everything ourselves and butchered the rest, and a merry time was had by all.
and i remember all too vividly the night john was shot too. . .
i'll tell ya that later . . .
m.a.

L-girl said...

i thought it might have been more local, i guess opening acts are like that. betcha had a blast...