Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Music in my Head

Its 1982, I’m listening to FM 104 and these words come from the speakers:

Little ditty about Jack and Diane
Two American kids doing the best they can

Jack and Diane is a song by John Mellencamp or John Cougar or John Cougar Mellencamp or Johnny Cougar or whatever he was calling himself at the time (Johnny Cougar, was that the best you could do John? It sounds like the 10 year old brat down the street. “Who broke the window?” “It was that little Johnny Cougar again!”) The thing is I hated this song back then. It has a distinctive opening and I immediately knew what song it was. I couldn’t explain why, but Jack and Diane made spiders crawl out of my skin and slap me with tiny barbed clubs. The radio knob would become as elusive as sanity to Glenn Beck when I grabbed for it to change the station.

I can’t explain what it was that I hated so much just as I can’t explain why I don’t hate it anymore. I heard it on the way to work yesterday and happily sang along. Whatever made me sweat 25 years ago has dissipated with age. The same goes with Bruce Springsteen. Back in the 80s during his heyday as “the Boss” I couldn’t stand his music. Part of it I think was the moniker The Boss: The Boss of what exactly? And it seemed like everybody else in the entire world liked Springsteen. I was on an island. When I told someone I didn’t like Springsteen’s music I got stared at like rutabagas were growing out of my forehead or I had just shit in their salad and called it a burnt crouton.

Now, again for reasons I can’t explain, I like some of Bruce’s songs, especially Rosalita. I don’t like everything he does, but the stuff I don’t like I don’t hate anymore. Bruce must be so relieved.

The point of all this is that our minds are constantly screwing with us. One day I have no use for country music and a few years later I’m singing Folsom Prison Blues in the shower. In the early 90s I’m happily listening to Nirvana, smelling the teen spirit along with millions of others. A decade later they bore me to death. Why do our brains hate us so much that it will mess even with the music we listen to? I tried to have a nice friendly chat with my mind on the subject but it started playing the Bee Gees to distract me. Twenty years ago I would have resisted but now I just start screeching “Stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive”.

I don’t know what changes in us that our likes and dislikes in music alter. Perhaps our minds continue to expand and become accepting of something that was previously distasteful. To make room it kicks to the curb the songs that don’t stimulate us any longer. I don’t know the exact answer. What I do know for sure is that I still hate The Talking Heads’ Burning Down the House. Hate it with a passion.

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