Home is where the lyrics are…
Listening to, and appreciating music has been at the front of my existence since I was young. I bought my first record, Harry Chapin’s, Taxi, when I was in the 3rd grade. I was captured by the movie in my head. I have been buying and listening to music of all kinds ever since. I have often thought of music as my home.
Through adolescence, well into my adult life, I have always apportioned some percentage of my weekly wages, and directed them to the local record shops. This had been how I collected music over time; 1-2 albums, 1-2 times per month. I would dream about having a collection so vast, I would have instant access to any music I wanted to hear.
We live in an amazing age…
In this era, electronic media and music sharing services have evolved, and platforms like iTunes and Spotify exist. My life-long dream of instant access to all things music has been fulfilled. Unlike cataloging records, cassettes, and subsequently CDs, tracking electronic music has required more structure due to the high volume of music available. Playlists were born.
My Spotify playlists were several years in the making, and ongoing creations. They involved thousands of songs from many genres of music. They represented the musical genres I have been most fond of including the Paisley Underground, Alternative Country, Blues, Traditional Country, Punk, Classic Rock, Bluegrass, and more.
Of them all, my favorite playlist was titled, Old, Odd, And New. It was an amalgam of alternative country, paisley underground, some Scandinavian hard rock, and a lot American garage rock from the mid-west and the east coast. The primary theme of this playlist was that it contained songs with filthy guitar sounds, raspy voices, and consisted of songs created largely by artists who never had much success. This playlist was the soundtrack of my recent life – it felt like home.
It may sound trite to compare the loss of music playlists from an electronic medium to the death of a loved one, but I’m about to do that. Several weeks ago I woke one morning, turned on my Spotify browser, and attempted to queue up the playlist I named, Morning Start. It was 800 songs or so, and was the music which lured me through my morning rituals of showering, making coffee, letting the dog out, checking email, and prepping for the day ahead.
As I attempted to navigate my browser, it looked noticeably different – all my playlists were gone. My Spotify browser had the look of an application just downloaded; a factory reset kind of look. Morning Start was no longer there. My stomach sank.
It felt like I was looking into my child’s bedroom, only to see the child missing from the bed – as though he had been kidnapped. ..
Trying not to let my emotions get the best of me, I followed a progression of logical steps required when dealing with technical snafus. I restarted my computer. That didn’t help. I uninstalled the Spotify program, and subsequently reinstalled it. That didn’t help. I began searching youtube and internet message boards to see if others had suffered similar afflictions, and to learn how they resolved the issue. I had no luck there.
Finally, I contacted Spotify for help. I received only this simple statement several hours later:
“We are not able to explain why your playlists disappeared. Short of the steps you have already taken, we have no suggestions for you. We are sorry for your difficulties.”
My loved ones were gone. I was sad, depressed, and very emotional for days after my loss.
Humpty Dumpty, three chords, and the truth…
My playlists were art in continuum. They were sculpted by me, malleable and always changing. They were organic, and well represented the changes in my recent life. Several days after they disappeared, I came to accept there would be no ransom payment, no search party, and no beautiful conclusion – they would never be seen again. Closure.
Each day, after I accepted said closure, and as spare time would permit, I attempted to begin the process of reconstructing those playlists. With each attempt though, came an increasing realization that my playlists could never be reconstructed – no more than a lost loved one could be brought back to life. It was time to let go and move on.
Home where the heart is…
Two-thousand miles and several weeks removed from the playlist crime scene, I found myself in Chicago for the event of a lifetime.
My daughter’s mother and I had just attended our child’s college graduation. It was early on a Sunday, and before most people walked into church that day, her mother and I had watched our daughter walk, along with 3,000 other students, into the next phase of their lives. By 10:00am commencement was completed, and the three of us were in a taxi headed back to our riverfront hotel.
I was on one side of the bench seat in back of the taxi, my daughter on the other side, with her mother in-between us. Shortly after we entered the cab, I looked over to see my exhausted daughter laying her head on her mother’s shoulder. In that sweet moment, I knew at that my daughter was home. She was at peace, in her happy place, resting comfortably on the one shoulder she knew would always be there for her. It was music to my eyes.
Playlists be damned, nothing else will matter to me more than that sight so long as I live. In that pure, perfect moment, I realized how insignificant any material object is. I also realized just how very significant family love is. The love of a momma, the love of a daughter, and the man who sees them both with awe and with great appreciation; we were captured by the music of the moment, and we were all home.
The living versus the idea…
A child too, is art in continuum. She was sculpted by me, by her mother, by her circumstances and environment, and by her own free will. Malleable and always changing, she is organic, and well represents that which helped sculpt her.
She is a playlist of another kind. Unlike my silly music playlists, my daughter is the product of love, not of a need to fill a void of entertainment. She represents the genres of joy, intelligence, happiness, love, humor, and many others. Seeing the look on her face, as her cheek rest on her mother’s shoulder is all the music I will ever need. Sometimes music is to be seen, and not heard… Be well. rc
Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I push the “stop” button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from Townes Van Zandt. Enjoy….