If you need to pick up Valentine’s candy, not to worry: the stores are well-stocked. There’s EASTER candy everywhere, for crying out loud. I walked into the grocery store last week and boom. Teetering stack of mini-eggs. I still haven’t finished my bunny from last year. Will I ever catch up?

And so rotate the commercial holidays, encouraging us to distract ourselves from loneliness or existential quandaries with a little bit o’chocolate, or cards that tell someone how much we love them better than we can say it ourselves. Sometimes I wonder about the people employed as card writers: do they come home, exhausted from work, look at their sweetheart and declare I have nothing left to give?

All this talk of love, the red stuff everywhere, got me thinking of someone I was in love with. This was an earth-shattering kind of love. I would have done anything for that guy, moved across the country, given up my job, that sort of thing. It was all-consuming. It had the accompanying drama you would expect: he’d break things off, go back to someone else; I’d get mad and then cry, swear off men. He’d come back, the relationship would get rolling again, I’d get scared and tell him to leave me alone, he’d cry, we would stop talking. Again and again. But it was worth it because it was love. Love makes you blind to the ridiculousness that might eventually drain anything that’s left of you.

I was thinking about him recently and realized I have no idea what kind of music he likes. Well, I know vaguely – he had similar tastes as me. I could probably make some predictions. But his favourite artists? No clue. Weird, because he was a musician, and my work is all music-related, and you’d think for two people in the biz, this would be of utmost importance. We never really talked about it, though.

I suppose I could go find his albums, now in the ex-boyfriend box, and figure it out from what he was writing himself. I saw him play concerts, but couldn’t exactly link what he did to an artist he might like. I wonder if he’d be hard-pressed to come up with one of my faves too.

Is this true of other musicians, critics, academics, songwriters, producers? Do they get home from work and want to talk about anything but music? How about John Cusak’s character from High Fidelity, categorizing his friends and girlfriends by their musical taste – that to me seems to be the norm, rather than the exception.

There are people who freely admit to rejecting potential mates on the basis of musical taste, like this guy on a first date, who I’ll quote (check out the full article here). I don’t like The Doors either, but I shudder to know that this type exists: “She put on a Doors record. I fucking hate The Doors, and immediately lost a little respect for her. I’d lose respect for anyone who thought The Doors are a cool band to like.”

Maybe real, working musicians prefer to avoid the topic. Or they realize that if they mix their business with pleasure, that all of the pleasure of their business will soon disappear. Could also be dangerous for the career:

I have lots of guy friends who claim they don’t talk to their wives about music, which frees us up to have good chats about it and then go home to focus on other things. My dramatic boyfriend and I had conversations about everything else: books, traveling, people we knew; he’d call me late at night and we’d talk about how much we screwed up our relationships for hours, and then he’d call me the next morning and we’d continue where we had left off.

One must seek a balance, depending on what one wants. I definitely don’t want all my free conversation time taken up by music, when I could talk about wine, reading, wine, makeup, TV, the impending apocalypse for which we better stock up on wine, wine, or beer. (Actually, I have nothing say about wine, I just drink it.) Yet one must be able to come home and vent about one’s work to their partner, correct? and if one’s work centres on music, then that will obviously be a conversation topic. There is also the inevitable negotiation of stereo space, should either partner want to have music on in the house, or agreements to be negotiated for which concerts to spend money on.

When all else fails and you realize you’ve spent over a year with the person beside you, as I did with my drama man, and you have no clue who they listen to, you can play this song:

and use it as both an apology for not knowing, and a test to see if they’re really compatible with you. Because if they don’t like Steve Earle, they probably aren’t.


Views: 515

Comment by Easy Ed on January 12, 2014 at 5:45am
I've never heard this term of ex-boyfriend box, but it conjured up an image of a lifeless body cut and chopped up in little pieces. I like it. And I liked both songs you've chosen here. Steve's song is one of the finest love songs ever written that so vividly shows how too much wine or name your vice can effect both people. And Fleetwood Mac...if their story isn't the modern day Greek tradgedy with a happy ending, I don't know what else it could be. My ex and I were not simpatico in music nor our favorite types of chocolate. Both seem a better guage to use than anything else I can think of.
Comment by Gillian Turnbull on January 12, 2014 at 8:27am

erk...it's just a few old letters and cards. and in this case, a few albums. most of the other ex-albums remain on the shelf.

That's one of my fave Steve Earle tunes.

Comment by Paul Wilner on January 12, 2014 at 12:33pm
Comment by Easy Ed on January 12, 2014 at 12:42pm

@paul: when i saw this scene in the film it was quite a revelation to what a putz i was...am...whatever.

Comment by Paul Wilner on January 12, 2014 at 5:57pm

not you, man, just the guy guttenberg played in the movie. namaste...(ellen barkin sure looked great, though, didn't she>) 

Comment by Hal Bogerd on January 12, 2014 at 7:25pm

Great clip but that's not Guttenberg (I'm too lazy to look it up).

Comment by Paul Wilner on January 12, 2014 at 8:23pm

ack ii, i had a sinking feeling you were right. daniel stern? anyhow,  it wasn't mickey rourke. alphabetically yours, pw...

Comment by Hal Bogerd on January 13, 2014 at 11:54am

No problem, I loved Guttenberg in "The Wrestler"

Comment by Paul Wilner on January 13, 2014 at 12:08pm

Yah, those tag teams with Antonino Rocca and Haystack Calhoun were memorable...I forgot who got custody of the Vic Damone B-sides...


Comment by Easy Ed on January 13, 2014 at 1:23pm

poor gillian....these guys always hijack the topic. next up will be a discussion on bobo brazil.


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.