Sunday, December 19, 2004

The 70s White Girl I Really Am

I bought Carly Simon’s Greatest Hits the other day. And I’m not ashamed.

S was. He said he was going to bring the CD into work and put it on to make P crazy. I said he couldn’t use music I love as a weapon.

It’s not just Carly Simon (and can I tell you how excited I am that there’s a new version of her Greatest Hits that includes “Jesse,” because the one thing that kind of bummed me out about buying the one I used to have on tape, the one with “Anticipation”--which I heard on the radio the other day and inspired me to buy the CD--and “You’re So Vain” and “Haven’t Got Time for the Pain” and all that, was that it wouldn’t have “Jesse”). It’s not just Carly Simon but Carole King’s Tapestry and the Beatles and the Grateful Dead. I’ll take James Taylor too. And don’t get me started on the Eagles. For Hanukkah S got me tickets to see Elton John, though he’s excited about that too.

You might not think this is so shameful, but you don’t understand who I’m married to. While I was picking out my Carly Simon CD, he was looking for the new Mastodon CD. Yes, the new Mastodon CD. You don’t know? Neither do I. Here are the CDs currently in his backpack:

Hasidic New Wave & Yakar Rhythms, From the Belly of Abraham
Ted Leo & Pharmacists, Shake the Sheets
Nude & Rude: The Best of Iggy Pop

Guitar Wolf, Loverock
Tim Berne, Diminutive Mysteries (Mostly Hemphill)
Delays, Faded Seaside Glamour
Esbörn Svensson Trio Plays Monk

Charlie Hunter Trio, Friends Seen and Unseen
The Dillinger Escape Plan, Miss Machine
The Brazilian Beat Mix, Baile Funk
Panopticon, Isis
Les Savy Fav, Inches
David S. Ware String Ensemble, Threads
Steve Swallow Ohad Talmor Sextet, L’histoire du Clochard
The Fucking AM, Gold
Diplo, Florida

Some of those may not be quite right because I couldn’t tell which was the band and which was the title, but you get the picture.

The funny thing is, I have a reputation for being quite cool about music. I’ve just about always heard of the band, and I can give great CDs you’ve never heard of but are sure to like for presents. But any iota of musical cool I have comes from the most uncool of sources: boyfriends.

In college, a guy fell in love with me because when he asked what record I wanted to hear, I said “Do you have Music from Big Pink?” That I knew The Band was from Canada sealed his fate. Little did he know I only knew The Band because my previous boyfriend (who actually was still my boyfriend, though I hadn’t mentioned him yet) loved The Band. The men in my life have always loved music, played music, lived music. And I’ve mainly just lived with them.

Let me not misrepresent myself too far the other way, however. I do love The Band. And I love Wilco and Luscious Jackson and the Donnas (before they became hot--we’ve liked them since they were junior high rocker chick wannabes, really, we have) and Dave Alvin and X and Pink and the Jayhawks and oh I can’t possibly list them all (plus once you start listing things like music or books or movies you like, it’s hard not to think strategically about what kind of image you want to put forward, even though that is supposedly what I’m trying to get away from here) (but let’s face it, I’m basically a late-20th-century white girl). I’ve discovered a few of those on my own--a very few. But when push comes to shove, I’ll still turn to my 70s folk/pop favorites.

The major factor in my current relationship with music is how little control over it I have. I’m not one of those people who needs music. We have about 35 linear feet of records--yes, vinyl--and an equal length of CDs, and I rarely delve into them. Sometimes I want to hear a particular song or album; sometimes I just want music (usually when I have to clean). But I can live for a long time in silence.

However, I live with three people who can’t. S never doesn’t have music on, and M and E are close on his tail. These days it’s mainly E. Right now she’s listening to Pink, but a moment ago it was Dan Zanes and before that Rory Block. When S and M get home from M’s swim meet, it will be the Beatles (M’s current fave) or some obscure jazz or hiphop pick.

But at least I know that when the moment comes, the moment when I’m home alone or nobody else has claimed the stereo or is paying attention and I think it might be nice to hear some of my music for a change, I’ll have my Carly Simon CD. And I’ll play it as loud as I want and sing along too.

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