I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes. I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale. Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not. In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey. I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site. With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment.
In thinking about how my iTunes Diary entries are now old enough to drink (Happy 21st!), I’m amazed at just how many musically-connected memories I harbor. I guess we all do to varying degrees, because music is always “there.” It’s kinda like the Force — it surrounds us and holds the universe together, or something like that in Yoda-speak. I listen to music every day; and even when I don’t have my headphones on, I hear music everywhere I go, from car speakers on the highway to muzak in the grocery store. Songs easily stick themselves to my synapses like burrs…nice burrs, the kind that don’t scratch or muss your hair. For about the past week, this sexy beast has been rattling around the ol’ gray matter:
The college I attended was located about an hour and half from my home. I didn’t have a car during those four years, so any time I wanted to or had to travel back home, one of my parents had to drive up and get me. It wasn’t the most appealing of situations since I had my license but just not a vehicle, yet I muddled through the what felt like ageless drives back and forth. My mother was usually the chauffeur, and during those drives we vaguely chatted about the weather and family and my studies. Soft classical or jazz always accompanied these light discussion, except for this one time…
Maybe I should have made better plans for my senior year spring break (sure seemed everyone else did), but I needed some time alone. With my parents at work and my siblings at school during the days, having several quiet days in a row was just what I needed then. So home it was. After my last midterm, I packed up the things I needed for that week and waited for my Mom to drive up to the apartment. Once she arrived, we loaded the car, and off we went. Just as I was settling in for the ride and about to ask about the state of my siblings, I heard The Moody Blues’s “Nights in White Satin.” I didn’t say anything, thinking it was just the radio. Though my Mom didn’t listen to the oldies station, my Dad did on the rare occasion — maybe he had borrowed the car or something.
We made small talk for a little while, but my mind wandered as I realized that The Moody Blues were still crooning in the background. I glanced at the radio’s digital display, which told me all I needed to know in two letters: “C” and “D.” Oh my goodness, I thought, my mother is listening to a Moody Blues CD! There are moments in everyone’s life when you suddenly see your parents as “human” — this was one of those moments for me. After years and years and years of associating my mother with quiet symphonies and charged serenades (this outside of very early years with Abba), to be present while she accepted something so modern (comparatively speaking) was bizarre and almost jaw-dropping. I didn’t say a word about it, but I was probably more than a little distracted during the drive.
At home that evening, I heard the Moody Blues again, this time wafting into my bedroom from my Mom’s office. “Question” was playing, and I listened for a bit and smiled. I didn’t know that much about The Moody Blues besides “Nights in White Satin,” and I liked what I was hearing. The next day (or one of the days that week), I scurried in my Mom’s office because I was simply too curious about whatever fascinating music collection she had somehow amassed! In and among all the classical albums that I expected to find, The Very Best of the Moody Blues was there along with several Yanni CDs (yikes!) and a couple Celtic albums. Nothing was quite as striking as The Moody Blues CD, which I summarily borrowed and copied to a cassette. (Yes yes, I had a portable CD player, but I still had lots of tapes and a working Walkman, thankyouverymuch.)
I really liked the whole album, but only years later would it help me rappel into the cavernous depths of progressive rock. I began gathering prog rock songs onto my iPod a couple years ago, and every now and again I go back into the vaults to find a few more hidden gems. “Question” by The Moody Blues was one such find. With my tape collection long gone and any thought of my parents being anything less than music-lovers long forgotten, it appeared under under one of those “you also might like” headings. It speaks highly to late 1960s/early 1970s pro-peace sensibilities, which is tops among my favorite musical eras. But more than that, “Question” will forever remind me of that weird and wonderful car ride home when my steadfast perception of my family was nicely rocked (and rolled).