Music wasn't really that important to me when I was little. My fellow students in elementary school were stunned that I didn't have a favorite radio station. I did listen to KJR, some, and I enjoyed music, sure.
(I even once turned two speakers facing each other, with just enough room for my head between them, and stretched out on the floor and listened to the stereo, a little too loud, for a couple hours or so. By the time my parents caught me, it was too late -- I was half-deaf for three days.)
It all really clicked for me one Christmas, when my parents gave me a tiny portable radio with headphones. I was entranced by it, and started tuning around to find a radio station to listen to.
This was the beginning to the 80's, and KUBE 93.3 was playing the beginnings of New Wave. I fell in love with it. I started buying tapes and 45's, cataloging my favorite bands, my obsessions. Music wasn't just something to listen to -- it was something to line up on a shelf, something to hold on to and own.
It got worse in the days of Napster and Audiogalaxy. I could never just enjoy a song any more -- if I liked it, I had to know what it was, I had to have it, to listen to it again, play it for my friends.
It bothered me to listen to radio stations like C89.5, where I really liked the music, but where they rarely mentioned the artist and title. How was I supposed to reach out and grab hold of it if I didn't know what it was? I couldn't appreciate the song I was listening to right then -- I was too busy thinking about the next time I was going to hear it.
I don't know what's changed. I don't know how I've started to let go.
Part of it was listening to C89.5, actually -- listening to live DJ mixes, accepting them as ephemeral, enjoying them anyway even though it would be impossible to hear them again. Part of it is just trying to let go in life in general; to live in this moment instead of the next.
I listen to all kinds of music now. I still listen to C89.5, I listen to KEXP, and they play all kinds of great music, and I may never find out what half of it is and I may never hear it again. But why should I care when I can just listen to the radio again and hear more great music tomorrow?
I've been trying for years, to borrow an image from Crowded House, to catch a deluge in a paper cup. Lately, I've been trying to just stand still, face upward, eyes closed, and let it all wash over me. Wash me clean.