Category Archives: Music

Music Lover

I think I’m addicted to my iPod.

When I first started making a fuss about wanting one, Joe groaned.  He thought I just wanted one because it was cool, and we would spend a lot of money on it and I’d never use it.  To test me out, he bought a cheap imitation MP3 player on eBay.  It came with badly translated-to-English warnings not to “damage the auditory” by playing it too loudly, and it had a real affection for Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”  Every time I turned it on, it started with that song and usually returned to it several times.  Even when you skipped to a new song, it usually came back to “Graceland.”  Maybe it was trying to tell me something.  You had to push every button five times before ANY song would come on, and I never did figure out how to actually put music on it.  Joe had to do it, which probably contributed to his willingness to buy my iPod.

I used the crappy little player for months, tucking it in my pocket while I did household chores, always making sure Joe could see that I was using it.  So for Christmas last year, he caved.  I now have my slender, perfect, bright pink iPod, which made me as happy as if he’d bought me jewelry.

I figured I would use my iPod while cleaning or exercising, or maybe as something to help me on long car trips when Joe refuses to switch the radio off the bluegrass station.  I had never really been one of those people who just sits around and listens to music, unless I was driving.  If I’m just sitting around, I am probably reading.  I like singing along with music while I cook or clean, walking to the beat while I’m on the treadmill.  I like having it on in the background while I grade papers.  But as I used my iPod more and more, it became kind of like a security blanket.  I loaded it with all the songs that I thought I might ever want to listen to, and organized a ton of playlists to fit each new mood.  I started downloading podcasts and radio shows.  My iPod has become another thing I make sure I toss in my bag before I leave the house, with my phone and book and journal. 

Joe makes fun of it, a little.  Being the music snob that he is, he scoffs at the slight loss of sound quality that occurs when music is transferred to the tiny player.  I don’t really hear the difference.  He also gets a little paranoid at the idea that iTunes and other online music stores will cause the ruin of the CD and the destruction of independent music stores.  I have to admit, that one stops me a little.  I can’t stand the idea of not being able to walk into Ear-X-Tacy and browse through hundreds of albums I’d never think to look for online.  I’m uncomfortable with the thought that I may be helping to put them out of business, but I think, for me anyway, my iPod has had the opposite effect.  It’s made me enjoy listening to music more, and has made me eager to try new artists.  It’s given me a way to test out new songs without making my husband’s ears bleed.  We buy a lot of CDs still, and the only difference is that many of them now end up on my iPod, where I listen to them a lot more than I would have in the car or while washing the dishes.

So yeah, I am addicted to my iPod, but it’s actually probably improved the quality and quantity of music that I listen to.  But sorry, Joe–I’m still drawing the line at bluegrass.

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Weekend Frustration

I just have one thing on my mind on this bright and beautiful Sunday morning:  LOUISVILLE FANS SUCK.

Those of you who have been reading Joe’s blog already know that we went to see Springsteen in Nashville on Thursday night, and that it was a fantastic concert.  Bruce is an amazing showman.  It was a great place to see him because everyone there seemed to be there to see Bruce.  When he talked, they got quiet.  They sang along with songs and got on their feet and danced, but even a short person like me never had any problem seeing the stage or not getting trampled on.  People were very considerate.

In contrast, last night we went to Louisville to see Dylan.  It was actually just outside Louisville, across the river in New Albany, but it’s still close enough that Louisvillians swarmed the place.  It was a horrible show.  The concert was outdoors, so people had plenty of room to move, yet they didn’t want to move to the music–they just wanted to move their mouths.  The people behind us and beside me would not shut up.  They carried on the most idiotic conversations at top volume during every song, discussing important things like who was going to go on their next beer run and how much beer they really wanted.  We couldn’t even hear Dylan sometimes.  At one point, we moved down a seat to try to hear better, and the guy next to me immediately leaped into my seat.  Joe leaned across me and shouted at him for a few seconds until he aplogized and scooted back down.  He quickly volunteered to get away from us for more beer for the group, but of course very little changed when he got back.  The whole experience got me thinking about my frustrations with Louisville fans in general. 

The thing is, I love Louisville.  I lived there for the first three years of my married life, and I still think of it as my adopted hometown.  It’s a fantastic city.  I just don’t understand why people who are normally so civilized and pleasant to be around can so entirely lose their brains when they get in crowds of people.  The last Dylan concert we saw in Louisville, in the parking lot at Jillian’s, was typical of this fan base.  Dylan’s performance was great–at least what I could hear of it.  It was another outdoor concert, but the fans somehow still managed to drown out the music.  People were smoking everything but their shoelaces.  Stinky, sweaty, beer soaked men were everywhere.  One man waved a copy of Catcher in the Rye and begged his friends to burn him with cigarette lighters.  By the time Dylan reached the middle of his set, I had beer running down my legs and splashed on my shirt.  Incoherent screamers were out in full force.

I considered that maybe it was just the Dylan crowd–he does bring out some odd people, although these two Louisville area shows were definitely the most miserable of the six Dylan shows I’ve seen.  But then I remembered the year we had season tickets to U of L football.  Every game could have been a Dylan concert–the mood was the same.  People showed up drunk and just kept drinking.  Fights broke out at almost every game.  When people wanted more beer, they threw empty cups at the beer vendor.  They screamed obscenities at no one in particular, causing parents to hurry their little children down the bleachers.  The team wasn’t bad, but the fans made the games a misery.  Last year at the UK/UofL game in Lexington, fans couldn’t buy beer inside the stadium, so people in red stood in clumps grouching about the inherent unfairness of expecting anyone to watch football sober.

I know people go to games and concerts to have a good time, and I’m all for that.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with a little beer and conversation with friends.  But when I go to a game or a concert, I want to SEE what I bought the ticket to see.  I don’t need to have people blocking my view so they can re-count their beer orders three times, or listen to someone cussing at the top of his lungs for the sheer pleasure of hearing his own voice.  Have some consideration, people.  That’s all I’m asking.

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Tift Merritt

This is a weird day.  I’m still trying to wake up from an odd night of sleep, and my brain keeps catching on random thoughts.  To try to get myself moving, I am watching the Food Network–Emeril is on–and reading blogs about one of my favorite artists, Tift Merritt.

I’m so excited because I get to go see Tift in concert in a couple of weeks.  She’s finally coming back to this area, and I’ll be able to see her play twice.  For those of you who have never heard Tift sing, you’re missing out.  I fell in love with her music when my hubby was still getting the magazine No Depression (the fact that it’s out of business now is a absolutely a crime).  We stopped by Ear X-tacy in Louisville, and I was restless for something new.  Joe scanned the alt-country CDs for a few minutes and pulled out her second album, Tambourine.  “I think she’s someone you’d like,” he said.

As usual, he was right on.  (But don’t tell him that.)  Tift’s melodic voice manages to sound comfortable and passionate at the same time.  She sounds like someone you could be friends with, someone it would be easy to get to know.  Her songs on Tambourine quickly became some of my favorites, and I think I like her latest album, Another Country, even more.  These songs have a personal quality that makes them easy to connect to.  Tift worked on this album during an extended vacation in Paris, and you can hear her rejuvenation in the songs.  They are a relief to listen to when I’m stressed out, especially “I Know What I’m Looking for Now.”

I also have to recommend The Spark, Tift’s radio show, in which she interviews artists about the way they work.  It’s a relatively new enterprise for her, and the offbeat shows are lighthearted and fun.  It’s a new program, so she hasn’t done a ton of interviews yet, but the few that are available are interesting.  They can be downloaded from iTunes, and listened to from her website and on Marfa Public Radio.  My favorite so far is her interview with Nick Hornby.  Check her out and let me know what you think.

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Born in a small town.

“Educated in a small town / Taught the fear of Jesus in a small town / Used to daydream in that small town / Another boring romantic that’s me.”  –John Mellencamp, “Small Town”

“Small Town” is my favorite Mellencamp song.  I love almost everything about being from a small town.  I love sitting on my front porch overlooking farm land, and moving to the back porch to see the thick stretch of trees bordering the yard.  I love waiting in line at Subway and chatting with the guy behind me, whom I’ve known absolutely for my whole life because we went to church together, and our parents still do.  I love how quiet it is out here and how people still wave when they pass you.  If I ever get bored, Louisville is just a couple of hours away; Nashville is even closer.  I feel like I live in the best spot possible, if I could choose from anywhere in the entire world.

But small town life does have its disadvantages.  You can get so used to your small-town routines that sometimes, without realizing it, your vision can narrow until all you focus on is the predictable patterns and experiences that define your little corner of the world.  My husband, who didn’t grow up here, is obsessed with eating breakfast at a little diner on the edge of a nearby town.  When he first mentioned it, I was shocked.  “Why can’t we eat there?” he asked.

“Well…I’ve never eaten there before,” I said.  My husband thought it was stupid, and he was right–I honestly could come up with no better reason.  Why shouldn’t we stop in some Saturday morning and have breakfast on the way to the grocery?  I didn’t know.  All I knew is that I had never, ever eaten breakfast there, and so there must be something wrong with it.  Right?

Part of the reason that my husband and I moved back here is that we were hoping to have kids quickly, and this is an excellent place to raise them.  We’re still hoping.  I’m excited at the thought of raising my children in a small town, where they can run down to the store for a Coke or take off on their bikes without my freaking out that they’re going to get kidnapped.  But I worry about the smallness of mind that can accompany small town living, the ruts you can get into where you won’t try a diner because it’s not your habit, or you won’t accept someone because they behave or look differently from you.  It doesn’t have to be that way though.  I hope that my children, whenever they arrive, will be able to sink their roots deep into this place and always have it to call home.  I hope they can experience lazy summer days lying in hammocks and long hot evenings catching lightning bugs.  But I also hope that they always keep their minds and hearts refreshed and renewed, that they stick to their faith in Jesus, and that they experience the great big world outside this place and all it has to offer.

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