Hush

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I like music.

After work, I stopped by Kennie’s Market to grab some stuff for Sophie. She had her wisdom teeth pulled this morning, and while the surgery went perfectly, she’s sore and deserving of a treat. She planned on a smoothie for dinner. I got some bananas and Breyers Fudge Swirl ice cream. She made her smoothie. Growing up, I called this a banana milkshake. I primarily drank them in the middle of a blazing hot afternoon after mowing two or three lawns. But wisdom teeth… Sophie had her ice cream smoothie for dinner.

Kennie’s is a cool grocery. It’s a regional chain with five stores scattered about my county; it’s part of the Independent Grocers Alliance and it’s employee-owned. Employees earn shares in the company through longevity. The other two grocery stores, Giant and Weis, are corporate, multi-state deals. People who shop at those stores say Kennie’s is more expensive and has less selection. My response to these complaints: Kennie’s is employee-owned.

Here’s an interesting fact about Gettysburg. Our Walmart isn’t a grocery store.

As I walked from the produce aisle (bananas) to frozen foods (Breyers Fudge Swirl ice cream) a song came on the sound system. From the first second, from the quiet, weird submarine-like sound that could be mistaken for an exhale or the end of a howl, I pegged the band as Deep Purple—an early British heavy metal band. I couldn’t place the song though. I needed to wait for the singing to start.

I’m out of practice. From ages fourteen until fifty-four, I was fairly obsessed with music. Three years ago, I essentially gave it up. I walked away from my side career as a spin instructor and my immersion in rock music ended. For those that don’t know, spin is an exercise class taught on stationary bicycles. There are countless schools of thought on how these classes should be constructed, and what exercises should be included, but the one constant through almost all classes is loud music.

As a spin instructor I listened to, considered and evaluated a hundred songs each week. I constantly looked for songs, obvious and obscure, to delight the people in my class. As much as exercise, music was my hobby. But now, I simply have no convenient time or place to listen to music anymore.

Early in the lockdown, a game went around Facebook where people posted the ten albums that most impacted their life. My list:

  1. Endless Summer – The Beach Boys
  2. Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles
  3. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
  4. London Calling – The Clash
  5. Leave Home – The Ramones
  6. Pornography – The Cure
  7. Album – Public Image Limited
  8. Nevermind – Nirvana
  9. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams
  10. Moon Over Antarctica – Modest Mouse

Here’s something telling about my list. All of these albums were released before the current century. I was fully formed by 2000. Well, that’s not exactly true, but my relationship with music changed after that. I stopped using musical genres to define me. Now I use words. By looking at my list of albums, I can summarize who I was through this period with a list of nouns: Simplicity, Alcoholism, Nonconformity, Grief, and Maturity.

The song in the grocery store was Hush, a real spin class crowd pleaser. As the opening chords began to bring the song into focus, I felt a pang of regret. I miss music. I don’t know when to listen to it. I can’t concentrate at work with music playing. My commute takes three minutes. I purposely run without music so I can be present in my run. Plus, we don’t have any sort of sound system other than laptops.

For a while, on our kitchen counter we had an Echo Dot (which everyone knows as Alexa—I honestly don’t know why they just don’t rename the product Alexa). The fidelity sucked. And like most computer products kept next to a sink, it quickly died. But at least with Alexa, I could listen to music while I did the dishes and made my lunch.

Blogging plays an important role in my house. It’s where I work out my problems. And the next day when Susan reads my post, she understands my problems too. She and I noticed yesterday that we’ve been on something of a spending spree since the lockdown ended. During the lockdown, we spent nothing, and we were quite proud of that. We never realized that we were just saving up three months of purchases for when the governor gave permission to leave the house again. Yesterday, I made a proclamation: No more spending! Now, one day later, I want an Echo Dot.

My guess is that Susan will green-light this purchase. She likes to listen to music in the kitchen too. It’s the one place we do things that don’t require concentration. Maybe we won’t get it immediately, but possibly in the next couple of months, after Donald Trump tries to buy my vote with yet another stimulus check.

And then: Alexa, play Hush.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

36 thoughts on “Hush

  1. Interesting list of albums that most influenced you! That Beach Boys compilation seems to be legendary amongst the generation who grew up with vinyl, I’ve never found it though. Not sure it was ever released on CD?

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    • Endless Summer was so accessible for a young teen starting to develop musical tastes. I doubt I would like it much now if I heard it. I’ll stumble on one of the songs from time to time and many elicit an eye roll. The other for me that hasn’t stood the test of time is Born to Run. Possibly I listened to it too many times, but you could probably say that about any of these albums. Another early album that didn’t make the cut is Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. A much deeper album than Endless Summer and I still love those songs.

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      • Beach Boys can definitely be daft, but when you ignore the lyrics and listen to the harmonies I think it’s still easy to get swept up by them (and the lyrics of Pet Sounds have actually held up really well). Born to Run risks hyper-romanticism and is sometimes way over-the-top, but I still think it has the rush of a young man (and band) taking their shot at world-domination and going at it for all that they’re worth. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is a classic double album in that it should’ve been a single, in my view, but there’s no arguing with the singles or, my oddball favourite, “Grey Seal”

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  2. I dragged Bob out to the trails the other day and the conversation went to music. Bob and I have very different taste in music, and although he does like some of the things I listen to, he says he just doesn’t have the patience to learn about a new band or new songs. And I have no interest in listening to his Oasis or The Grateful Dead. He started asking me about an obscure band that I enjoyed and had played for him before, but all that he could give me in reference was “the album cover was purple or orange.” So, I was at a loss. And I told him that I don’t even listen to music anymore. If I am driving, I am listening to an audiobook or the kids music. And I don’t listen to music when I run either. The kids have an “Ok Google” thing in the bathroom they play their music on when they shower. I guess I could do the same. And then try to figure what obscure band I like and Bob could listen to as well.

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    • Oh, right, that purple… or orange album cover. Funny. I actually like Oasis and the Dead. One benefit for me is my kids have moved away from the radio pop that they used to like. Sophie skews towards punk and Eli is into 70s hard rock. So I guess I lied, When I’m driving with my kids, I hear some music. But I’m NEVER in control of the stereo. This morning, I looked on my new laptop for my music drive and I can’t freaking find it. I spent hours copying music over from my old PC. I’m gonna be really ticked if I need to do that again.

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  3. I do miss the days when a song or album would just grab me and excite the “wow I love this!” part of my brain, as it used to happen often. I also used to spend hours looking for new music to listen to but it just doesn’t happen anymore. New album by that awesome band? Cool, listen to it once or twice and move on. I hope you guys get your echo dot and can enjoy some tunes again soon.

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    • I think the rebirth of Alexa in my house is a given. I’ll just need to be better about requesting a wide variety of music from her. Before, I’d request the same four or five songs over and over.

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  4. Early in the pandemic I unearthed a twenty year old radio, CD, Cassette player! It’s now on top of my refridgerator. When my husband is in the shower, I turn on the radio to my only station.
    I also have an old ipod. I downloaded every CD I owned to that about ten years ago, whether I still liked that music or not. The download occurred about 3 laptops ago so I can’t change anything. I believe from what I have read that if I plug an ipod into a pc to add some music, the Apple device might mess with whatever I downloaded. Oh well, I have over 100 albums of familiar music that a play through a bluetooth speaker.
    I have an Echo that the kids gave us for Christmas which has never been opened. Hmm. I may have to figure out what to do with that. My husband worries about Big Brother with that.

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    • Yeah, the listening in factor with an echo is creepy, although amazon would point out that your iphone does the same thing… with a camera too. The problem with using the echo to play music, you need to subscribe to a streaming service. We did with amazon music in an effort to be integrated. These subscriptions really add up. Hulu, Netflix, Disney, Prime, etc. We really need to cut something.

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      • Good info. Part of the reason I haven’t tried to set it up is because I have no idea how it works. Wasn’t sure if it worked by draining my phone or if it is more like it’s own device. I have research to do. Requires streaming service. Aha.
        For TV we now have DirectTV and Prime. We cut Netflix at some point. No matter how much we have we still have a hard time finding something we even want to watch. Currently we are on Rizzoli and Isles reruns. LOL

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  5. I thought I heard you callin my name now, hush! Hush!

    Great piece, great list! “Endless summer” takes on a different context this year dunnit? Like everything! Susan! Green-light the purchase! Jeff! Buy a real wireless speaker! IKEA has an amazing model for $70. Problem is, they don’t ship. IKEA! Get your shit together. They’ll have your lunch. Already have.

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    • Ooh. Ikea’s a long drive. We road tripped there once for meatballs and browsing. Everyone was disappointed. Best Buy is marginally closer.I don’t think Susan’s read it yet, and I don’t think she reads the comments. I’ll let her know your vote. Ya know, I just remembered that I planned to weave in a bit about how we didn’t hear rock songs in stores until the late eighties or early nineties. Everything was easy listening elevator music crap. Just one more reason to shop at Kennie’s. Metal!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes to Kennies! No to Weis! Dutchies! Sorry, they’re my heritage so I feel I can say that. No Weggie’s in your area, I presume? They crush the Giant in my old town, Allentown.

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      • Wegmans is a hefty drive, one my mother in law makes weekly. I can’t believe it’s THAT much better. Although she always buys us sugared orange cranberry bread at Christmas time. That’s worth the drive.

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  6. We are lucky. We can just put a music channel on the TV and listen while we are in the kitchen. We spent very little during the lockdown too. We didn’t know it then but we were saving up to pay a veterinarian bill. 😦

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  7. Fantastic post. Now, you got me wondering about my own Top 10 list. Music is one of my passions. A MUST have. Felt sorry for my neighbors, whilst working from home, today, jamming to Mc Hammer, as OF COURSE, ‘You Can’t Touch This!’ Had my earbuds way loud. Awesome. Got paid to do work whilst making a joyful noise and chair dancing and taking care of work issues. Life is good, even when its hard. 😎❤

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    • Ha! I’m completely tone deaf. The thought of me shouting along with headphones on is laughable. I really wish I could play music while I work. I just wouldn’t get anything done. Long car drives are best for me and music (and being alone in the car I can sing along without embarrassment) but I never drive anywhere.

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  8. Regarding “Hush,” I don’t know which is louder–the music or the clothing worn on the album cover. I actually said, “Oh my god” out loud when I saw it. Also, I assume the title of the album is ironic. I turned my volume up because I couldn’t hear anything at the beginning…and then scrambled to turn it down after the…ahem…music started. (Can you tell I am not a complete fan?) But, it reminded me of listening to my husband’s favorites–including a great deal of Clash and Sex Pistols. So, you are my memory lane instigator. Thank you.

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    • I dunno about irony. This was the sixties. I suspect they were being earnest. Sorry about suckering you into listening, at least it’s not the sex pistols (but in truth, I’m a big fan of the sex pistols). Your husband had great taste.

      Liked by 1 person

    • My wife says get the Dot as well. Probably this weekend. Thank you on the album list. It’s hard to decide what is in and what’s out. So many albums I LOVE that didn’t necessarily “impact me” per se.

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