No Room for Music


I dropped it into the conversation. “Yeah, I’m going to see The Stones in July.”

There were four students in the room and they all squinted. Never a good sign.

“The…Rolling Stones.”

Squints narrow.

“Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.”

And then one of them said this: “Oh yeah, my grandfather loves them. But I think they’re kind of lame.”

I repeat: My grandfather loves them.

I repeat: I think they’re kind of lame.

Grandfather.

Lame.

I have heard old people say things about remembering exactly what they were doing when President Kennedy’s assassination was announced by Walter Kronkite.This was like that, but with a Slovak accent. I had never before actually heard blood pound through my ears and I found the whole experience rather painful and sad.

Two of them have admitted to liking the music of Justin Bieber. I was not going to go down easily in the face of that truth and so I instantly leapt to the defense of my choice. “Oh come on people! They’re such a great band.” They stared at me. “Sympathy for the Devil?” They stared. “Beggar’s Banquet?”

They

Stared

I opened my mouth to speak again but clapped it shut. They hadn’t retorted at all. There was no agreement nor was there banter. They were just staring at me, the way I stare at people when I feel to bad for them to argue with them. I half expected one of them to come take me by the elbow and sit me in a chair and call some paramedics. But they didn’t. Instead, I went on with the lesson.

This isn’t the first time it has been suggested that I am old. And, to be honest, I really don’t mind it. I am not one who wants to be hip, cool, in the in crowd, or fashionable. This is probably because at no time in my life have I been hip, cool, in the in crowd, or fashionable. I think I was on the list to be in the in crowd once in college, but someone obviously blackballed me and I didn’t get in. No, old ain’t the problem.

It’s the fact that they don’t like my music. Although, admittedly, this has been a historic scenario for me. In a time when my friends were listening to class rock like The Doors and Pink Floyd, I liked what my parents listened to – comedians like Steve Martin, Doo Wop like Dion and the Belmonts, and musicals. I was not on a lot of party lists. While I was working at the university garage, my coworker, a large Yinzer who found very little use in beating around the bush, invited me to bring in a tape for our garage radio. I brought in a Harry Chapin tape.

My anxiety developed as did my coworker’s eye rolls and scoffs. Finally he said, “Man, you have to take this tape out. I’m about to kill myself.”

“Oh.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, in a rare show of concern for my feelings. Then he asked “How did this guy die again?”

“He was decapitated in a car accident.”

He somewhat neutralized his apology by adding, “I think he was listening to his own music and drove off the road.”

I never brought in another tape, though he consistently invited me to.

I’m not a hipster, so I want people to like my music I suppose. If I am excited about it, I want others to be excited about it too. this goes extra for when it’s in class, since the students are paying for a class and I want it to be worthwhile and enjoyable. Thus I have fidgeted through student watching movies I have brought in, reading articles I’ve found, and songs I am playing for them. I think next week I’ll bring in Beggar’s Banquet. I’ll make believers out of these Beliebers.

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