[Abby's Road] Music and mindfulness


Don’t you hate it when you excitedly tell a coworker about the early 2009 Christmas present of a Joy Division “Transmission” 12” [FAC 13.12 (12″) 1980] you received from your boyfriend and they look at you with confusion and scorn? No? Well, it stinks. Let me tell you why. Perhaps a lesson will follow.

Having a music collection, be it analog or digital, carefully arranged or littered with rogue records in the wrong covers (guilty as charged) is more than merely hunting and gathering items. It’s not like a ceramic frog collection one has at nine years old (guilty as charged) or little bits of sea glass clinking about in a jar from decades of family seashore vacations. The emotional baggage contained in a music collection is a powerful creature…with teeth…and little blinking eyes. For example, listening to Reading, Writing and Arithmetic by The Sundays immediately transports me to sitting behind an art museum in a 1972 Plymouth Valiant with my friend Ian back in 1990 – a memory of a specific day. Do I like The Sundays anymore? Not really.

I like what they make me remember.

Over the years I’ve realized that a passion for music – not playing an instrument, mind you – but listening to and discovering bands, record shopping and passing along new information about artists and musicians, is largely believed to be a teenager-y phase. Something one grows out of as life changes and responsibilities increase along with shoe sizes. Sadly, for the most part, it’s true. For a small contingent of us, however, it isn’t. I’m pushing 40 and still set aside an entire day for clicking my way through the rows and bins at Amoeba Records when in the Bay Area. It’s important. I am lucky to have retained friendships with a few people who made it through puberty, high school, college, are gainfully employed and still have the drive and interest for music I do. The guy who drove the Valiant? He’s still my best friend, despite living in separate cities, and we still try to out-do each other. The last biggie he unleashed on me was the acquisition of Unrest’s Perfect Teeth, boxed set on 7”. Blimey…foiled again. It’s a platonic love/hate relationship, you see.

Rewind to my Christmas present. A holiday message to all: remember the recent power of a melody or a really nice harmony at a specific second in a song and how that particular aural snip spun a really horrible day into a brighter one…or reminded you of a moment once spent with a long-forgotten acquaintance. What an amazing gift! Remember this as the years tick by and you, responsibly, as I did, go to school and find a job and pay your bills and taxes. Remember how music makes you feel RIGHT NOW. Hang on to it tightly. It isn’t silly. When I carry on about how magnificent my “new” record is and how thoughtful it was of the giver to select that specific item, I expect those around me to understand what I’m talking about. When I get a blank stare from a contemporary, my frustration is visible and for good reason. Music is my medicine. My scrapbook. Perhaps I’m at fault because I never explained why it’s so special.

I guess I just did.

[Abby’s Road] Introduction: A Trip Down Memory Lane

6 comments to [Abby’s Road] Music and mindfulness

  • I remember one year I poured DAYS into making a three disc Iron & Wine “box set” of rarities and live takes for my brother for Christmas. He got it and was like “Oh, thanks. That’s cool.”. HUH? Hours of trolling the net and hand stitching together this box…

    Anyhoo, be thankful you’ve even got one person close to you who shares your passion, because people like us who really feel music are few and far between!

  • I think our musical minds are completely parallel at this moment Abby. The key word I have been using and hearing a lot recently is ‘passion’. And you seem to be bursting with it :)

    A lot of people get latched onto the business, financial, and even ‘rockstar’ driven reasons for having some place in music. While all of those things would and could be nice… I can’t help but take a step back daily and have a quiet moment or chills with something that music has given me.
    (today it was remembering-then listening to-Wes Montgomery cover Eleanor Rigby. I used to vision the sound of his guitar coming out of Paul’s mouth)

    I think you’ve taken something that every music enthusiast needs to remember daily. Love the moment.

  • Oh Abby, I believe you will soon have the hearts, affections, and infatuations of many a music lover! But be nice, they are a fragile species.

  • It’s always sorta depressed me how many of the people I grew up with stopped paying attention to new music after college. That said, glad there’s so many of us still spelunking. (Spent an hour in the vinyl section at Newbury Comics today!)

  • Enjoy the now… make the memories, hang on to it tightly for a few more seconds to make it stick in your mind. Yeah… I’m making up my year-end lists and they’re not anything about what’s best or good or even favorites. They’re about what’s memorable and what I couldn’t stop listening to or listened to when ….. happened.

    And my #1 record this year? My #1 song, from that record? Yeah… it was a #1 moment too. An embrace, a gaze into the eyes of someone who, like your friend in that car (omg! I had a ’73 Plymouth Scamp! eeerie), knew the passion of that song with me. Passion in all senses, and knew in both senses as well 😉

    Let’s have so many more moments with music like that in our lives. Thanks for the reminder. Turn that shit off that comes on your radio or TV that’s for somebody else somewhere or doesn’t make you happy. Replace it! Put those people in your lives that give you a knowing look when that song comes on. Be brave. Abby, you inspire me. xoxo

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