“I need music,” my wife told me.
We were painting the living room (in blessed silence, I might add) when the desire for something to fill the void overcame her.
So I turned on the radio.
After ten mind-numbing minutes of advertisements, the first selection turned out to be a b-side oldie. I was eighteen when it was new. That was fifty years ago and I hated it then.
I hate it more now.
“Honey,” I said, “that song is fifty years old.”
“Uh-huh,” she said through a smile.
“Think about this,” I told her. “What if we were listening to the radio in 1968 and a song from 1918 came on?”
She didn’t get my point, but she got enough of it to turn her smile into a suspicious frown. By now, the track had ended and a shrieking guitar introduced the next b-side oldie.
I get it. The exuberance of rock’n roll changed the course of the universe. It was all so new, so revolutionary and so alienating then – but now, fifty years on, all those musicians are on Medicare and the message just isn’t the same. Why are we still listening to them?
It certainly isn’t for the artistry, I could only count three chords.
Perhaps it’s for the nostalgia.
I doubt that though. I was an idiot in the late 60’s and everyone I knew was an idiot. Idiocy is not something one should look back on with fondness.
What then is it?
As if to answer my question, she shouted over the screeching guitars, “It’s a classic!”
“Ah,” I said, “you want classical.”
My favorite preset button brought up Dvořák’s String Quartet No. 12 “The American”.
“Ugh,” she cried, “you complain about old music, then you play that.”
I tried another channel.
Talk Radio… A bitter old white guy complained about the country going to hell…..
NPR…. a smug young ivy leaguer complained about the country going to hell…..
“Leave it there,” she shouted, “I like that song.”
I did too.
We listened while we rolled new parchment white over old parchment white.
“Why are we doing this?” I asked.
“Because the paint is old.”
“Can’t have old stuff.”
“Nope, we can’t.”
The song slowly faded into stillness… which lasted for one peaceful moment, then…
RAP, %$#^, RAP, %$#^ …
“Turn it, turn it,” we both cried scrambling over each other in a panic.
The unmistakable lyrics of country….
Problems, we all got ’em
Let ’em sink down to the bottom
Doesn’t matter who or where you are
We’re gonna spend the weekend in the deep end of a dive bar.
“You know?” I say, “some things never get old.”
“Nope,” she says, “they never do.”
“Like going to The Pit.”
“Not until the living room is finished.”