More and more lately I feel like the odd one out.
It used to be that only the serious music lover or band fanatic was continually plugged into their music.
Now the iPod, iPhone and their various imitations are everywhere you look.
And everyone is plugged in.
I don’t think I’m ever going to own an iPod.
I’m no Luddite. It’s just that the idea (and the reality) of sticking noise producing things either into, or over, my ears has no appeal. I understand that some people have a particular aversion to ear buds. They ‘can’t stand them’ and that therefore gives them licence to buy the (coincidentally currently trendy) 1980s ear muff style headphones. It’s not that I am physically uncomfortable wearing a particular type of headphone or earpiece. I just don’t like being plugged out of the other sounds around me. And I just like the sound of ‘silence’.
I’ve never been particularly big on music, in the sense that it is not constantly part of my life. Days go by where I don’t listen to any.
There are certainly some songs that I really love and appreciate when they play. And I would never want a world without music – music touches our souls. But I have never had this need to have music on all the time.
Sometimes I do find it really helpful to play some music to relax, or conversely to help energise myself or cheer myself up.
A particular favourite ‘pick me up’ song is Des’ree’s ‘You Gotta Be’ because it gives recognition to the fact that times can be hard, but you need to be strong and hopeful for the future. Some people hate the song I’m sure. But to me, it can be just that little something that helps me get through one of the periods of deep depression I sometimes get.
I think for me music is a way to help move me to the ‘places’ I want to get to. Whether this be motivating myself to run with strength (for which my favourite is a classical piece by Sibelius), to crawl out of depression, or to enjoy the absolute fun of kicking back your heels and dancing and singing along to dear old Neil Diamon’s Sweet Caroline and giving the kids twirls and dips whilst grooving to the catchy beat.
Whilst I like the odd classical piece, mostly I love music with lyrics. When I learnt the piano I was only ever really interested in learning the pieces that had words to go along with them. If I could say the words in my head as I tried to remember the piece I usually got the notes right. I knew the tune through my connection to the words. My site reading skills were abysmal so I just couldn’t play things when I had no words to remember the tune.
When I have music on I can’t help but engage with the words and what the pieces are saying. I like trying to interpret the poetry and gain some reflections on life from songs. Again to some it may be cringe worthy, but I’ve found great value in pieces like John Farnham’s A Simple Life for this reason. The words are great, but the music gives even more power to them. I love the passion and emotion and the way music can take you to places that even the most powerful orators would find challenging to do. Good music is easily as inspiring as the best speeches from the West Wing. The lyrics are like poetry.
I get a lot out of music, but music is not my backdrop. It is not something that I can have on all the time. And when there are times when it is on all the time, it’s kind of sad because the good songs lose their meaning and to me the music becomes kind of irritating, and is just noise.
I like the sound of ‘silence’. I’ll often drive along in the car with no radio on and just be free to think and reflect. I love running, but could never run with an iPod. I value the time and space for thinking and breathing to much. I love the fact that when there is no noise around you the world slows down. When I road home on my bike this afternoon, I was taken in by the silence around me. No car noises, no walls between me and the sky, the wind and the birds: just the real world around me, slowed down and able to be absorbed. Sure it’s not really ‘silent’, but it’s a whole lot less noisy.
So that’s why I’ll never own an iPod. Or if I do own one it’ll be to play music via speakers: music that joins me in the real world, out there and loud, not music that separates me from it.
Funnily enough I really do like Simon and Garfunkle’s Sound of Silence. It’s kind of unrelated to this post in that it’s talking about the danger of silence and people who can’t communicate with each other, but maybe with all those headphones on all the time we’re not communicating.
Do you plug in to an iPod?
How do you engage with music in your life?
What do you think when you get on a train and realise that the majority of people are tuning out from the world around them?
(Rest assurred this post was written with plenty of singing and grooving – it can’t be helped if you click into some of the You Tube links!)
Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/masha_k_sh/2360999996/sizes/o/in/photostream/ with thanks to masha_k_sh.