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.