Lift Yourself From Once Below
Praise the anger,
bring it on home
“It’s just that sometimes, I wish I had someone to share things with. For example, when I saw all of Paris from a skyscraper, I wanted to say to someone “Isn’t that beautiful?” But there was nobody there.” — Paris, Je t’aime (14e arrondissement)
Lately I have been thinking about music. It is so diverse, and yet it is all just sound waves. People have such different opinions and interpretations of songs that there can’t really be an objectively “perfect” song, just like there can’t be an objectively “perfect” piece of art.
Tom and I have fairly different tastes in music, but with enough overlap that there’s no need to squabble over a figurative radio dial. Still, it seems that the majority of the songs I really love, he really hates.
It’s an odd feeling. Partly because I normally get positive reactions in sharing the music I love; so to not get that from him feels bad. Driving to Edmonton last Friday, I was, by the end, actually a little depressed about it. I didn’t talk about it because I know discussing my feelings before I’ve thought them through only causes confusion for everyone, myself most of all.
So I’ve been asking myself: why does it make me sad that he hates what I love?
After all, a taste in music is very personal, dictated somewhat by exposure, and we’ve had different influences on our own taste— enough that it’s surprising that we even have the overlap we do. He likely did not, as a kid, sprawl out on his dad’s chest and listen to Sting or Peter Gabriel on Sunday afternoons, or listen to poppy hits or old classics a thousand and two times in epileptic snippets while practicing the tap or ballet dance before tomorrow’s recital. (I remain attached to the songs I first heard in ballet class, regardless of any popular consensus on how “good” it is.) I like a song for how it makes me feel, not necessarily for how well it’s crafted, and spend little time deliberately learning about the people behind the music I listen to. I only ever ask, “who is this?” so I can find it again later.
For a time, I used to get a ride home from work with my mom. The timing worked out perfectly to walk to her office after work, and it was way nicer than taking the train. Since most of our lives are lived in winter, she likes listening to songs about warmer days. So we listened to Boys of Summer by Don Henley many times. I didn’t learn until later that apparently it’s a song people love to hate. I can never hate it. It reminds me of my mom. One Christmas, Kim hired her nephew to paint snowmen and reindeer on our office windows. While he was painting mine, he said, “Hey, turn up the music! Kim’s not in!” and I laughed. He asked if I had any Don Henley and I had only that one song. So we listened to it, neither talking, all the way through. And it felt like we had a moment, two humans connecting for a short time by way of music.
And that’s the answer to the question. Connection. I can’t have that particular connection with Tom, the person I want to connect with most of all. People share things they love because it magnifies their own emotion when someone else is enjoying it, too. Despite it all, people like what they like, and luckily I bond with Tom through other things (which do include a couple songs.)
It’s been a struggle all my life to stand up for my own opinions, but it’s go time now because Tom has strong ones and is good at defending them. It’s easy for me to misinterpret people like him and get hurt over things like, “I can’t believe you like that awful song,” (which I’ve heard a lot over the years) because I hear it more as a judgment of me than of that song. It’s a bigger deal than it should be, I know, but when I love something, I love it a lot and it despairs me when people won’t give something a chance in order to connect with me.
In the end, though, it’s definitely okay to love a song all by myself. They are my memories, after all.