Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Music Moments

The Dubious Weather blog is on leave and will return soon.

One of the things that I think has changed due to streaming media is that it reduces the opportunity for big moments. There is such an incredible amount of content that the singular, unforgettable moments are reduced. 

I thought about that yesterday, and I remembered three moments with music that were incredibly powerful, the kind of moments I haven't had for a long, long time. 

So here they are. 

The first happened when I was in college. I had a friend with a nice stereo and an excellent collection of records, and I used to go over there and listen to records when he was in class. 

Beanbag chair, too. Ultra. 

One night, he was going to a party and he told me to listen to Dark Side of the Moon. He also very specifically said to use headphones. 

I put on the headphones and closed my eyes.

I can't image a better way to listen to that album for the first time. It was so incredible, so overwhelming, that I was speechless when it was done. 

In my memory, there was a full moon that night, and it was pouring into his room, but that may be a case of me embossing history. 

Either way, I didn't need the moon for that to be a moving, unforgettable moment. 

The second moment happened when I was living in the hill country in Texas a few years after graduation. It was a little cold in late fall, and I remember having jeans and a jacket on as I went to do a little fishing at a nearby lake. 

I was just on the bank, casting an artificial worm, and I had headphones on, and I was listening to Neil Young's Harvest for the first time. I think I was a little melancholy that day, and the combination of my own emotion and the palpable melancholy of the album was so beautiful that it took my breath away. 

Part of that memory is that I was listening on a cassette Walkman or similarly huge device, and it was such a weight in my pocket, which was nicely symbolic for how the album affected me. 

The third, and (unfortunately for me, the last) happened a few years after that, when I bought a compact disc player for the first time. The first CD I ever bought was Tunnel of Love by Dire Straits, and it was also the first time I'd ever listened to a CD player through headphones. 

Oh, my god.

It's a superb album, and the mastering was absolutely incredible, and it felt like the band was playing in my living room. I know that CD mastering eventually became an exercise in manipulating music instead of presenting it faithfully, but at first the sound was so unbelievably pure. It was totally transformative.

I've had some nice moments since then with music, and I still listen to it all the time, but nothing's ever matched those three. 

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