Betty Duffy

Monday, January 5, 2009

Songs of Rebellion, Songs of Hope

I like to think I can walk and chew gum at the same time--that I can be an over-the-top Catholic and still listen to electronica, read my Magnificat every day, and my Harpers every night. Most of me is in God-land except for this hand and this foot that I keep out in the world just to stay in touch, and also because I like the world (probably why I'm not a saint). So I went out in the world today for the first time in a long long time. I took a walk outside with my husband's new ipod, which means that I was able to listen to all the songs I haven't been able to play for the past seven years with kids in the back seat because they (the songs) drop the F bomb.

Music is a double edged sword for me. I LOVE it. I played the cello through gradeschool and college, so my growing up was immersed in classical music. When I was in the convent, music, except for liturgical music, was more or less banned because of its ability to conjure up old emotions and memories. And I am an emotional person. Every day after lunch, I had permission from my spiritual director to go for a run, but I did not have permission to take my headphones. I did take them, nonetheless, and though my selections were not necessarily fight songs (Joni Mitchell, Beethoven) the music always made me feel restless and rebellious. As a married woman with children, my rebellion is more or less the same. I have a bad day or get in a spat with the hubby, and what do I do? Buy a pack of cigarettes and drive around in my mini-van listening to Lucinda Williams. Bad, Betty. Bad.

The ipod is interesting. The sound quality is so good and the experience of the music so much better, it just begs to be shared. And yet, as soon as you put music on some public listening device, you lose the experience to background noise or to awkward events while listening, like someone who insists on making eye-contact that says, "This song rocks, doesn't it?" or a listener who needs to show his intimate familiarity with a song by singing along.

Sharing music always falls short of the intended purpose of sharing, because what I really want to share when I share music are my internal visuals, the fantasy that the music conjures, or the feelings it inspires in me. In those mix tapes I made in high school for the boyfriend, each song was meant to convey a message: I have esoteric taste in music. You would like to have a romantic moment with me to this soundtrack. This is the fantasy impression of me that I would like you to have. I want you to have the same feelings I have when I listen to this song.

But it never works out. The guy in the car with his bass thumping is sharing his thug fantasy with the world. He is sounding his mating call. But all I feel, sitting there inside my house with the window panes rattling, is irritation. How many babies has he awakened up and down the street?

So, therefore, I am not going to put a "music to listen by" thingy on this blog. I am just going to say that I really like Bjork and especially her song, "Unison."


Betty Duffy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pedge said...

Hmmm, a deleted comment. .Who could it be? The Kitchen Bitch, maybe. HA! Hey read June Cleaver, she has a thing where you can send her a post and she'll put it on her sight. You should do that. Delusions of Granduer, maybe. Not that you are having any trouble building an audience on your own. I'm going to listen to your song right now, Later, P

Betty Duffy said...

No Pedge, the deleted comments are all mine. I'm suffering from blogger's remorse. It is time for me to quite bemoaning the fact that people have feelings, and begin to treat them with charity--which is where this post should have gone rather than the superfluous way it went. Why do I insist on keeping myself rooted in the world? Even if only halfway?