I have a podcast library on my phone. It’s a mix of politics and current events, personal stories and interview shows. On occasion, I listen to one. A lot of people I know, my kids included, listen to them almost every day. And I don’t think it’s just a generational thing. My peers recommend what they think are good, or even essential podcasts to me, on a frequent basis. I just can’t seem to get with the program. I feel like I might be missing a lot. But my head is stuffed with thoughts all the time. And I read constantly. How many more voices do I need – that is, ones who are speaking? When Michael and I took long road trips, we primarily listened to music, but changed things up by adding in history books or humor. I remember a number of our choices which were really great when you were driving on a two week long trip.
But interestingly, music was always our first choice. Whoever was driving got to choose whether we’d listen to a random playlist or specific artists off the iPod. The passenger usually read or just enjoyed the passing scenery. Often we were silent for hours, drifting along in the comfortable rhythm of us and whatever was playing.
Back then there were still CD players in cars. Last year, I rented a car for a lengthy trip to the East Coast which was a mom-son deal. I spent a lot of time at the library, choosing a widely varying selection of books on CD, figuring we’d take turns picking genres. Imagine my surprise when the brand-new car was player-less. I guess everything’s on Audible or Sirius radio or whatever. Miraculously, the first generation 30-gig IPod that was loaded with 2500 songs from Michael’s iTunes was picked up by the sophisticated technology of the car so we had good music.
During this quarantine time, I’ve been spending as many hours as I can, weather permitting, outside in my garden. The work out there is endless, my attempt to create a beautiful habitat and natural space while dueling with the weeds and the uninvited creatures who laugh at my efforts to contain them. At least I think they’re laughing – I know I would be if I was one of them. As the line from Jurassic Park goes, “life finds a way.” When I’m out there, I have earbuds in and I’m listening to Pandora, usually set to random play. I like to hear old favorites and am also happy to hear something new. I’ve been led to hearing new artists and feel like I’m not getting totally stale as I age. One of the things that really annoyed me about my in-laws was that they called big band music from their youth “our music.” I thought then and still do, that having one small segment of all the art that was available in your life, define who you were forever, was not a good thing. I still feel that way. So here are some of my station choices on Pandora. I don’t include classical music or my new age options on these as I prefer those as my indoor nighttime sounds.
I get a lot of variety out of these. The music keeps me moving and sometimes I just have to stop and dance. Having let go of caring what I look like as I’m enjoying myself is a plus during these episodes. The only time things get a little weird is when I’m working in the front yard and can’t hear when I’m being greeted by a neighbor. Or when someone is trying to get by me on the sidewalk which I’m dominating with my moves. But here’s the thing that’s been driving me a little nuts in this already bizarre time. When I hear a song from long ago, my mind prepares itself for the next cut on the album. And of course, that doesn’t play. I still have so many whole records tucked away in my brain. I’m sure there’s not a single Beatles album I couldn’t sing by heart. Those are still going strong in my memory as I inch closer to the end of my seventh decade on this planet. I think I heard my first Beatles song when I was twelve in 1963. Lucky for me, I was ahead of their curve because of having a penpal from Liverpool in 1962, when she told me about a “boss” local band called the Silver Beetles. That’s a real thing – you can look it up. Anyway, back to the albums. I know vinyl album collecting is again a “thing” in the music world. Just months before he died, Michael sold our massive collection to an independent store in St. Louis. I miss the album covers,the feel of them and the sorting of them, in our house in alphabetical order by artist, not genre. But they took up a lot of room, our kids didn’t need them and his expert knowledge was necessary for the sale. I still have a few here and I also have a turntable. Perhaps that’ll be a collector’s item some day. I even have a machine that converts vinyl into CD’s but in today’s world that’s a technological dinosaur.
I still have my Beatles CD’s, classical CD’s, Michael’s Grateful Dead collections, his house favorites compilations and many more. A tiny portion of the amount he amassed in 27 years of being in the music business before becoming a teacher. But it’s still plenty and I’m not ready to part with them. In the past few days, as I’ve been mulling over my daily choices, music, podcasts, reading and other ways to stay busy and relatively sane, I zeroed in on my early years with Michael, when our lives were low key and we could spend hours lying around together, listening to albums and just staring at each other in amazement at our good fortune at finding each other. Some who know me well would have doubts about my ability to spend hours without saying a word. At least one that was anything other than vocalized. But I was actually talking to Michael with my mouth shut, as he was to me. May is my hard month – in a few days my birthday will be here, while my wedding anniversary is already gone. Then it will be three years since Michael’s death. So hard to assimilate when he’s still so alive to me. And so polite of him to not die on my birthday which would’ve been just awful. So. I was thinking of all that music and those tunes which roll through my mind every time I hear one of them from Pandora, waiting for the next one. Those albums still fill me with the same thrills they did back in the day. So here’s a selection of some memorable ones. There are just too many choose from.
Some other day, I’ll talk about the ones that caused total melting for a lifetime. I’m going to stop thinking about this topic for now.