Sunday, January 6, 2013

Noise, Noise, Noise

I never listen to music. Well, maybe never is too strong a word. I rarely, if ever, listen to music. I'll occasionally put on some Buddy Holly or a Minnelli soundtrack to listen to as I'm cooking, but that's about it. I reckon that I listened to approximately three hours of music each year between 2009-2012. At least, listened to music of my own volition.

As you know, I used to work in customer service. An enormous element of the customer service environment is constant blaring pop music. That music never goes away. From the moment the store opens to the minute the store closes, there is always music playing. Usually the same music played over and over again. The music coupled with the sounds of chatter, walking, screaming children, cash registers beeping and general every day grocery store noises was completely overwhelming to me. If it had just been one of those things going on, I would have been fine, but it wasn't. It was bedlam. I really didn't even know what music was playing - - it was all just insufferable noise blended into a dastardly cacophony set out to destroy me.

It clogged my brain and the horrible noise (as it came to be called in my house) felt like an honest to god personal attack on my psyche. The horrible noise exacerbated my depression like nothing else. And I couldn't escape it! There were speakers in the break room, outside near the benches, even in the bathroom. I used to go into the break room and plug my ears/close my eyes to try and escape. No luck. At one point, I also put in ear plugs to try and drown out the sounds, but that didn't work out very well for obvious reasons. I was fucked.

By the time I got home every day, I felt like my brain and even my body had survived some sort of audio war – me vs. everyone else who loves noise. I needed absolute quiet for at least a few minutes when I walked in the door, preferably on my bed in a dark room. I asked Jake, who absolutely loves music, to only listen to it when I was at work. I couldn't stand to hear any sort of horrible noise in my own home.

Thankfully, it's been almost six months since I left the horrible noise. It's taken all of that time and many hours of quiet to put this into perspective. Last week, Jake started playing John Dowland's Clear or Cloudy next to me. For the first time in God knows how many years, I actually heard beauty. The music wasn't grating or even annoying, it was beautiful, sublime even. I almost cried. My brain is starting to forgive me for putting it through hell for so many years. Intrigued, I started listening to more John Dowland and snippets of music I'd been sort of interested in these past years like Gene Autry and  Dean Martin. I heard the beauty in their music, too. I'd completely forgotten how music can make you feel, the emotions it can bestow.

I'm so happy. I'm so inspired. I'm so grateful.

I listened to this Gene Autry number around thirty times yesterday:

And here's the John Dowland piece I was telling you about:

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