I’ve got the opening theme to Portlandia playing on endless loop in my head. I’m not referring to it by its song name or artist because I learned it first from Portlandia. I’m not current on music, or I might have known about the song back in 2011. Heck, I’m not current on TV either, never having watched the first season of Mad Men and only seeing the first season of Portlandia a week ago because the library carried it.
“Current” is definitely the right word for the state of understanding recent developments, i.e. knowing current events, or knowing what song is currently playing. If all our information is a river (I think it is), those who are current with it swim at pace in the most turbulent and forceful parts (the current) of that body of water. Those who are behind and don’t even think about swimming in that stream (like the author) are just looking at the river and all its swirls and ripples. I happen to look at it all rather wistfully, poetically if my brain is working. I have a list called “Music to listen to” that contains music recommendations from friends (whom I trust more than Amazon or Pandora). I’d say that list has six items added to it for each item checked off, on average. I find staying current pretty stressful. I rent multiple CDs from the library and listen to them while driving. Sometimes my car’s CD player thinks I put in a coaster and beeps at me with the CD halfway out. If it does actually play, it feels like homework if I’m working to stay current. “Have you listened to the new Vampire Weekend?” I did pick it up from the library and I didn’t know what to do with it. Nothing stuck. I don’t even remember how any songs went. I reply to that question with, “Yes, it’d be a fine weekend for a campfire.”
I like unasking questions. “Mu,” said Jōshū.
And yet the album The Campfire Headphase sticks with me, especially the song Dayvan Cowboy, even though the songs are just loops of guitar sounds. Why? I don’t know.
I don’t listen to lyrics. My good friend P will repeat sections of songs we’re listening to when he thinks the lyrics are important. I miss the words until the fifth repeat. I usually just nod on the first repeat and politely say, “Mm. Yeah, that’s a good line.” If I want to be moved by words I prefer reading them on paper. Maybe that’s why I like a lot of music that’s just sounds and no words.
Coming full circle, I only like the part of the Portlandia theme that plays during the show’s opening, i.e. the part without words. Once the robotic vocals come in, I lose interest. Then the song becomes something I “have to” interpret. Beats never need to be interpreted, only felt. Jazz never needs to be interpreted, only felt. I don’t think I can feel spoken or sung word.
Missing: adenosine; reward: $$$