Friday, January 28, 2011

Music & Identity

In college, music became a central aspect of my identity. I lived for shows on the weekends – from San Diego to San Francisco – I made mixed “tapes” at least once a week. I remember listening to Blueprints for the Black Market and Never Take Friendship Personal o my way to the Antelope Valley every weekend one summer. Play me “Sun” by Mae and I automatically think of driving along Pacific Coast Highway at one a.m. my freshman year of college.
                I loved the self-induced anxiety of being at the front lines of a show – watching Anberlin andSaosin at a crammed pool hall in Lancaster, watching The Used for the first time in San Diego (hey, no judging of my past musical taste, please), hearing bluegrass boys jam it out at local fairs. Back in 2005, I wrote (albeit not greatly) about the raw energy inherit in a good show:
                The first show where the sweat raining out of my pores floods my body and matts my hair to my face. My arms and back are slippery with the wetness produced by the heat and energy that is all around the room. My legs get confused with others as my feet try and find a stable spot on the floor only to get pushed and moved in an erratic formation as soon as I feel I have a place.

It is amazing.

Amazing to feel others' slick bodies rub against mine, to feel the bass vibrate throughout my body and make my heart skip a few extra beats, to feel the energy escaping from those on stage to those of us in the crowd in a swirling, chaotic collision of sweat, emotion, and love for music. The anticipation that was once in the air has now evaporated and disappeared as though it had never existed at all. Now, all of us just live in this one moment, feeling the words course through our bodies and the strumming of guitars heat our blood.

Five years ago, and obviously a much more novice creative writer, this was my connection to music. But, somehow, music’s centrality has faded. I still love music. I listen to my swing, my Regina Spektor, and my Jill Tracy whenever I’m out and about on my own. But my days of scouring the internet for new music and gifting my friends “mix tapes” have come to a halt.
                I know part of this is interests shifting – starting a graduate program where my friendships are focused around academics, not taking as many road trips where music is the sole entertainment, becoming a new mama and being in throes of new mamahood everyday. But there’s the problem. I want Droidlet to love music; to be exposed to everything from The Ohio Players to The Black Keys to Nickel Creek to Explosions in the Sky and sift through all of it to find whatever music it is that touches his soul, that makes him want to dance in the sunlight and the dark, that makes him want to sing.
                Maybe, I’m being a little hard on myself. In utero, Droidlet went to a Killswitch Engage show and a Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings show. We listen to at least one musical a day and he loves dancing to “Do You Love Me” and (of all things) the Tarzan soundtrack.
                Maybe this is more a reminder to myself to listen to the bands I love. To blast Voo Doo Glow Skulls when I drive to class, to introduce Droidlet to jack when he’s in the car. Or maybe, I’m just long overdue for the self-induced anxiety of a show.  


  1. Your love of music is really inspiring!
    When I was very pregnant I took my in utero baby to an Ani Difranco concert and once my other baby was born we all went to the Lilith Fair. Showing our kids that we have a passion for music is valuable I think.

    I read your article on Off Beat Mama and I really enjoyed it by the way. Keep up the great writing!

  2. Thank you!

    That's wonderful. I have never seen Ani Difranco but she is one of my FAVORITES (hooray bisexuals mamas!).

    I can't wait to take Droidlet to Blues and Jazz festivals and when he gets to experience the first time seeing one of his favorite bands!

    Thank you for the support.