Thursday, February 24, 2011

So I Married A Musician

--Adrienne Miller

I don't have great deal of musical talent. And that's probably being generous. I can't say that I don't have any. About a year ago I discovered that I have a knack for the harmonica and there are a couple of lullabies that, if I sing them really softly, my kids will settle down. So, hey, that's something. But other than that, I've got nothing.

I can't sing. I can't keep a beat going on my own for more than thirty seconds. I tried to play the clarinet when I was in sixth grade and was politely asked at semester's end by the music teacher to find another elective. (Which reminds me, I should totally do a post some time about all the things I've tried and been asked to never do again. The list is surprisingly long. When I fail, I do it spectacularly.)

But I love music. It's my go-to inspiration, my muse. Drop me in the middle of nowhere and as long as I have my ipod, I'm good. Some people need silence to create, but not me. Just about everything in my life plays to a soundtrack. Stories, car trips, even laundry day, they all have their own playlist. 

So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I married a musician, and a really good one to boot. Tom is the opposite of me in so many ways. He's a self taught musician who can play just about anything with strings-guitar, bass, piano, ukulele. Oh, and drums too. He writes music. He improvises. He has a freakin' degree in jazz theory. I didn't even know there was a theory behind jazz, let alone a degree you could earn in it.

It became apparent pretty early in our relationship though that we did not hear or experience music the same way. I listen to a song the same way I look at a painting like Van Gough's Starlight Over The Rhone. I see it as one thing. I feel frenzy in it, the crazy. I'm moved by the visceral reaction I have to it.

Tom, on the other hand, sees each individual stroke, each little brush of paint. There is no totality. It's not a painting, it's a thousand touches of paint. He might see them as cleverly applied, but they don't fill him with abstract inspiration. 

This has led to a couple of polite disagreements about music in our household. We each have the bands and playlists that can only be turned on when the other one is out. There was the time I told him we had to leave a Dream Theater concert at intermission if there was going to be any hope of saving our marriage, or the time that I drank my way through a night at a combo jazz club just to keep my sanity. 

It goes both ways, of course. There are bands of mine he outright hates - Foo Fighters,  Kate Bush, Counting Crows - all for things he sees as 'musical sins'. And here you didn't even know there was divine morality in notes, did you? He teases me mercilessly about my love for Damien Rice. After seeing on iTunes that a song of his was twenty-one minutes long, he commented, "What is it, five minutes of singing and another sixteen of him quietly weeping in the corner?"

Will we last? Probably. But where some people advise that separate bathrooms or bank accounts make for a happy marriage, I advocate for separate playlists.


Tom Neely said...

When comes to music and art and the likes, I think agreeing to disagree is the only way to go. It gives you so much to talk about. And who doesn't love a good debate.....

Sophie Littlefield said...

i love what you said about the way each of you experiences music. I think there's something to that, for sure. I'm more like you, Adrienne, but I know just enough that a small thing can set me on edge, like a note slightly out of tune or a bit of rushing. Sometimes I almost feel like it's an impediment to really enjoying a piece.

Martha Flynn said...

Please come sing me a lullaby so I will settle down.

Gigi Pandian said...

In my house we always argue about whose computer playlist we'll use when we have people over ;)

Rachael Herron said...

Kate Bush? He doesn't see her GENIUS? Okay, I guess that's all right. Separate playlists are a great idea.

Mysti said...

Your husband is funny :)

I was asked to pick another language after one semester of German. But I ended up w/a degree in Linguistics. so, sometimes it's us, sometimes it's the teacher!


Adrienne Bell said...

Sophie - Sometimes I love my blissful ignorance. Every now an again Tom will tell me that there is something 'wrong' in a pop song and then be astounded that I don't care even a little bit. I just like dancing to it.

Martha - anytime, but don't you think that your coworkers will be a little weirded out by a someone singing Hush Little Baby to you in your cubicle.

Gigi - I relate. Last time we just The Killers (one of the few bands we agree on) into Pandora and let it do the choosing for us.

Adrienne Bell said...

Rachael - I know! Who doesn't love Kate Bush? I think it's the pitch of her voice that gets to him, and I get that. Sarah Brighton's voice makes me want to pierce my eardrums with screwdrivers.

Mysti - I'm afraid the music class was all me. But I've also been "asked" to quit the girl scouts and my high school debate team (after going to National Championships). I can be a rather big pain in the ass I'm afraid.

Unknown said...

I could just hear that comment in his snarky mode. :) Made me laugh out loud.

And advocating for separate playlists should be a standard article in Wedding magazines, right up there with compromising on finances and seating charts.

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