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Unstuck in Time

As the snow tumbles down none too gently outside my window and the wind howls and the air is full of the sound of cars over-revving their engines, trying desperately to get unstuck like Billy Pilgrim, I am happy to be safe, warm and in a comfortable room with a piano.  Though I do wish the landlord would shovel the walk soon because I’m thinking of going out for a slice.

I mean I could do it myself but I’m a renter here and it’s not really my job. Plus I’m not totally sure where the shovel is and, anyway, I’m not sure I want that slice anymore.  What I’d really like to do is become unstuck in time and listen to music the way I used to.  At one time I actually had a stereo with actual speakers and it sounded great.

I would play Mahler and Shostakovich and Camper Van Beethoven at full volume and sit in the middle of the room and let it wash over me.  I could probably do that here.  I’m just a lowly renter after all, no one expects much of me.  But I don’t have the actual gear. I don’t have a stereo anymore. Or a record player.  I have a Sonos box and I have a computer with headphones.

And yes, headphones are nice but it’s not the same thing.  In Montreal recently I went to the Leonard Cohen exhibit and my favorite part was a listening room where we all sat in bean bag chairs in a room with speakers everywhere. You could feel the music in your bones.  It was wonderful.

I’ve become obsessed with the idea of recreating this room in a public space where people could gather and listen to music the way we used to before we foolishly threw away our stereos.  I keep thinking of that sensation of music in my bones and how thrilling it was.

A public space where we could sit and listen to music together could be deeply therapeutic.  In the Leonard Cohen room we couldn’t control what we listened to and I think that’s key.  That last thing you want is people fighting over what to listen to or someone coming in and playing like nine Meatloaf songs in a row. Or even one for that matter.  If there’s a musician anywhere in the world who can incite me to instant rage it’s Meatloaf.  Although Garth Brooks is right behind him.

At any rate, the idea is less about the aesthetic and more about feeling the music vibrate in your body which used to be the only way we listened.  The experience of listening to recorded music is sadly much degraded these days, what with earbuds, faulty connectivity and compression.  Not to mention that people don’t just sit and listen to music anymore  but maybe they would if it sounded better.

Of course I should probably just get a stereo and try it out here in my room and then work my way up to opening a public listening space with state of the art sound later.  Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll get started on it as soon as the landlord shovels the walk.  And I might grab that slice after all.

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