MY MUSIC SELF - a personal essay
There wasn't a 'pee in my pants' moment recently (yes, you are correct, I said recently; now move on). I didn't have spinach in my teeth while talking to a colleague. I didn't fall on my ass in front of a group of people.
I’m embarrassed by my iTunes library, or rather, lack thereof.
Let me explain this odd, yet relevant, insecurity.
I grew up in the world of IM and Napster. I had a computer that I had built myself, with a monitor the size a Xerox machine. Dial-up in our dorms was so slow, for the time it took to download a track, I could have run out to Walmart and bought the whole damn album. Plus, I worked 30 hours a week through college, and when I wasn't working, I was drinking (truth, sorry mom). I didn't have time to download music. But, back then I wasn't embarrassed of my music; I was busy socializing and I didn't need my own music.
After college, I entered into my first 'in-love' relationship. Well, I was in love; he was not (but that's for another time, a different essay). No hard feelings though; what I learned from him and that relationship has stayed with me into my 30's and helped define my Music-Self.
Within a 3 year period, we went to over 30 live shows; mostly smaller venues, but some arena concerts and big-name bands. There were many Tuesday’s when we would show up at Best Buy at midnight to get the newest release from the flavor of the month. I’d read the backs of the albums to see if I could recognize any of the producers or session musicians (with the intent to impress him). He would tell me what he had heard, read, researched about the album, the tracks, and the artist. He taught me the secret of how to open a CD case without the sticky tape cock-blocking you. And then we would listen to the whole album. Three times.
When I got my first laptop, I ended up giving him my computer (not the one previously referenced...that one died many years before, RIP). He knew of all the 'free' sites, to download and share new music, although he vehemently defended
himself about it because he also bought all the albums as well. And this was true. While he effortlessly and quickly filled up the first version iPod, he also had over 5000 CDs (it was a bitch when he moved). He always had the music; I didn't need my own.
Until I was on my own:
What happened to the music?
Was I still allowed to like the same music that he (we?) liked?
How do I 'download'?
Where do I hear about all the new music news?
And most importantly, who WAS this woman?
And here we are: seven years after that relationship ended, three boyfriends, five jobs, six moves (for me and my dog) over three states later, I’m finally at the point where I can start buying new music.
But I don't want to!
Now I feel behind the times. I still want a CD. I don't know about the Cloud, or if Pandora is better than Spotify. I'm not sure what a 'Genius' track is. I still want to tear that annoying piece of tape off of the CD case (I know you want to know the trick). So, I find myself buying CD's in the Starbucks's line (There. I admitted it.) I have friends that make copies of new music for me fairly often, and for them I am grateful. Receiving an iTunes gift card sets off an anxiety attack for me: "Do I buy that old Van Morrison album that I've always wanted? Or do I get the new Amos Lee? I really should get the newest Prince album, but I also need running music, so I should probably . . .” See how unnerving this can get?
I’m not embarrassed about my music knowledge and experiences. I speak music well. I know indie musicians as well as what I like about big name artists. I can recommend local artists. My New Year's resolution a few years ago was to go to any and all music venues in the DC area that I had not been to before. I get bubbles in my stomach before a live show. I have been told that I have a good ear for music. I can tell when a singer is off pitch, or if a band is not harmonizing well. I love to speak live-music with people. But, you wouldn't know this about me, if you glanced at my iTunes, where my library is unimpressive, bordering on non-existent.
So, this is why I am embarrassed. I’m embarrassed, but yet, accepting of myself at the same time. We all have a story on how we got here, and mine has proven to have many rewards along the way. I know that, one day, my music library will be filled to capacity, whether it is with digital tracks, and real CD's or amazing memories from live shows. I’m enjoying listening to it all.