The Musical Question
What is more embarrassing than writing about the music you don’t intellectually love or or ethically love but actually love?
Is there a way to write about music without lying?
How can anyone not listen to music in the car?
What does a lullaby in a language you don’t know and a tradition you don’t understand mean?
Is a good pop hook an epiphany or advertising? Is ecstasy a lie? Does listening to a sad song when you are sad increase the sadness or does it help give the sadness a shape? Does angry music draw out or release anger?
Can a bad song have good lyrics?
If stories give us the shapes of our experience and art gives us our perceptions of line and mass and color, does music give us an understanding of sound? But how is a lawnmower like a clarinet?
What does it mean that the repetition of a beat or a figure in a song can be both anticipated and received with surprise, and even joy?
Why should anyone else care that the Hole CD sometimes starts skipping during “Reasons to Be Beautiful”? Why does it matter if the song you love does not come on even once on the radio all of your shift at the warehouse? What does it matter how it felt to be drunk on the dark bus through New Jersey at midnight with headphones on?
What was music before it could be recorded? When you remember music, what exactly is happening?
Why does John Coltrane look worried?
Where does a song exist?
How can you fall out of love with a song you love?
Why are people impressed by the sound of the pipe organ, when to me it is like being drowned in a gold stupid ocean? Why do I not love the songs other people love?
Can you listen to a song wrong?
What is music other than wavelengths and time?
Why do Phil Collins songs make me think of the waiting room of my childhood dentist’s office and why do I feel an inexplicable tenderness for that room and those hours, the cloudy day outside and the smell of toothpaste, the old paperback book of brainteasers on top of the stack of magazines?
What if death does not mean silence?