Homecoming

I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot lately…
Feeling somewhat guilty because I don’t write as much as I’d like.
Feeling guilty because I don’t write as much as I’d intended to.
I spend a lot of time trying to figure out exactly what it is I should be writing about…
Because the truth is, I want to write about everything.

I feel like a blog should have somewhat of a focus, though.
And I know my writing tends to be better when I have a focus.
No matter what topics I consider when I reflect upon my writing, my interests, and my life in general,
I always end up coming back to the same thing.
Music.
There was a time in my life when I wanted to be a music journalist.
That passion, that desire played a huge part in dictating the events of my life thus far, and in shaping who I am.
From the time I was 15 on, it’s been about the music.

It seems so obvious, one would probably wonder why I didn’t just stick with that in the first place.
Well, I’m not going to get into that right now. Perhaps some other time.
I’d much rather tell you about my day…

From One Fangirl to Another

For months now, I’ve been staying up until around 4 or 5 in the morning. No particular reason, aside from the fact that I don’t seem to get tired at night, so I stay up working, or browsing the web, or hanging out with some nightowl friends.
Well, my best friend just started working overnights, so I’ve decided to sort of match that schedule, working from 10pm on rather than in the afternoons. Despite the fact that I’m used to staying up until sunrise, I find myself getting really tired around 3am (usually). Maybe it’s because I’m writing about taxes and HVAC systems instead of casually reading articles and chatting with friends. I don’t know. I usually stop working at around 4 or 4:30, and I climb into bed to watch a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother until I fall asleep, usually around 6am.
This, of course, means I’m waking up much later than most people. Today, I woke up sometime around 3. Without getting out of bed, I decided to check my messages. While scrolling through posts on Facebook, one in particular popped out to me.
A local acquaintance of mine had posted that she’s taking her daughter to see Coheed and Cambria when they come to town in September.
She wanted to know if anyone had any contacts…anyone who might be able to help her get something signed for her daughter.
I immediately shot another acquaintance a message, asking if it would be possible to make this happen. He said of course, we can figure something out the day of the show.
It took less than 3 minutes, but it absolutely made this 17-year-old girl’s day. Her mother sent me a message saying that she was screeching at the top of her lungs…lots of “OMG”, and “they’re my favorite band!”.

I can’t help but smile, thinking about it. I remember being that 17-year-old girl. It feels good, helping her out. But it’s a little more than that, I’ve got to admit. Over the last few years, I’ve lost a lot of my passion and enthusiasm for the music scene, both local and otherwise (but especially local). I won’t get into why right now (again, maybe later), but seeing this girl’s excitement reminded me of everything that I loved so much…and it helped to soothe the parts of me that have been feeling scarred and jaded lately. I started to feel good about it again.


In the Clearing Stands a Boxer

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that I haven’t been listening to music much lately. I just don’t dedicate the time to it anymore. I used to listen to the radio all the time in the car when I was driving, and that was often how I’d hear new songs. Well, it’s been a year and a half since I’ve had a car. I’m never all that interested in searching for the music I want to listen to online…I get annoyed with algorithms that try to predict what I *really* want when I search for “Dion – The Wanderer”, because the results never seem to be quite right. So I just haven’t really bothered.

Thankfully, my best friend listens to music constantly. No, “listens” isn’t the right word. He studies music…consumes it. And he thinks I’m lazy and super-lame for not doing the same thing. I make excuses, but I know he’s right. I’ve been neglecting an important part of myself.

Lately, he’s been listening to a lot of Simon and Garfunkle.
It’s interesting how you can know someone so well, for years, and still learn things about them.
Three years, and this is the first time I’ve noticed him listening to Simon and Garfunkle.
Why does this matter?

Well, we’ll have to go back in time a bit.
When I was a kid, my parents had a lot of records. I mean hundreds of records…LPs, EPs, 45s.
When I was in high school, my favorite record was Simon and Garfunkle’s Bridge Over Troubled Water.
I don’t really remember my parents ever putting the record on and listening to it from beginning to end. I don’t even know who the record actually belonged to. It wasn’t like the Elvis records, which I knew were my mom’s, or the Johnny Cash records, which were clearly my dad’s.
Bridge Over Troubled Water became mine.

I’d wait until no one else was home, and I’d take the record out, setting it delicately on the spindle.
My favorite track was The Boxer. Years later, I still remember it was the sixth track on the record…the first track on side two.
I’d set the needle down…listen to the pop, crackle, and hiss…
and then…the haunting echo of the vocals…the gritty bass harmonica…the heartwrenching narrative, building up to that chorus that sounds like a broken, yet determined heart crying out. And then that percussion, sharp as a whip crack.
Sometimes, I’d listen to the song and cry, feeling the loneliness that was conveyed. Other times, I’d read through the lyrics on the album sleeve, imagining this boy walking the streets of New York City. No matter what else I did, though, I listened. I put myself into the song, listening to every single part until I could find my way around it the same way I knew my home.

Over a decade later, I’m still finding new appreciation for the song. Thanks to my friend, I now know a little bit about harmonica and fingerstyle guitar, both which feature prominently on the track. I’ve seen the way songs are recorded now, so the idea of using two 8-track recorders to capture the multiple tracks, and the fact that there are 100 hours of recordings packed into this song which comes in at just over five minutes long absolutely blows my mind.

The song was recorded around 1968…that’s 44 years ago…yet the techniques remain incredibly innovative. Listen to that percussive note in the chorus. That “whip crack” that I mentioned earlier. Have you ever heard anything quite like that? Any idea what makes a sound like that?
I couldn’t recognize it, so I looked it up. Well, it turn out they’re just drums. So what makes them sound so unique? Well, they set the drums up in front of an elevator shaft. Brilliant.

I can’t say enough about this song, so I’ll stop for now and just let you listen. Just a warning, though…the versions online don’t often do it justice. Do yourself a favor and pick up the album. Find yourself a record player and a good set of headphones, and then take it in.

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  1. Pingback: In the Clearing Stands a Boxer « Shades of Gray

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