Hump Day: Eclectic tastes soothe savage music fan

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

With Christmas over, I’m having quite a dilemma. I’m not sure what kind of music to listen to anymore while I work. I know, eh? Stop the presses. Get the pope out of his stained glass window-making class! Interrupt Queen Elizabeth while she works on her list of who’s getting beheaded this week! This is more important!

I work from home — and usually in silence except for the odd hisses and growls from of the multiple daily wrestling matches between the two cats or the ultra-annoying sound of the dog scraping her teeth across a bone that she’ll chew until she’s literally exhausted herself. Fingernails on a chalkboard have nothing on the sound of that little dog’s chops grating incessantly on the skeletal remains of what was once a very nice cow, I’m sure.

My beloved classical Christmas choral music no longer appeals to me. Quite frankly, I need a break for several months. If I hear that kid whining about not having any gifts for Baby Jesus except for the ability to play his drum again, I’m going to break his drumsticks over his head and send him packing along with Alvin the chipmunk and his hula hoop for a long walk on a short pier. And Frosty the Snowman? If I see him walking down the street, I’m going to invite him inside for a glass of ice water and then block all the exits as I corner him and point a hair dryer at him. Pray for a power outage, Frosty!

Yeah, I never thought I’d admit it, but it’s time to move on from Christmas music, at least until August. Don’t judge me! As the character Sheldon Cooper often says on the hit CBS sitcom Big Bang Theory, “I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested!”

I find it difficult to listen to current pop music while I’m working because it’s too distracting and frenetic. It’s always nice to have something soothing in the background, but I’d rather work in silence than listen to something that annoys me. Long gone are the days when I was a kid and could only do my homework in front of a blaring TV and a chattering family around me. And just for the record, I did pretty well in school despite it.

When my brother and sister and I were kids, our parents didn’t hush everything down to lullaby tones when we went to bed. The television stayed just as loud, and they didn’t lower their voices, either. This pretty much meant we could sleep through anything. When I went to university and stayed in residence for my first three years, it was also pretty noisy at times. You get used to it.

Heck, I remember very clearly once when my parents put the television volume down after I was in bed. It was very quiet. Too quiet, actually. I broke the silence and yelled from my bed, “Mom-m-m-m-m? Can you put the television up?” She did, and I slept like a baby within five minutes. Like I said — no worries, my mother had me tested.

Eventually, I got my own apartment and got used to it being quiet. “So this is what going to bed in silence feels like. Ooooh… I like it.” These days, I can’t sleep without earplugs lodged halfway into my brain. Makes for interesting efforts with the clock radio trying to wake me up in the morning because it’s so loud it could wake the dead. When I take out the earplugs and hear the actual volume of the radio in the morning, I’m actually quite horrified at myself.

Earplugs, television,can’t sleep… where was I? Oh yeah, music. Got off on a bit of a tangent there.,Anyway, so I’m trying to figure out what music to listen to. Most of the time, I listen to AccuRadio (www.accuradio.com), a free online music service with literally dozens of channels for every genre of music, from country to rock, classical, jazz, new age, pop and everything in between, even year-round Christmas music.

Sometimes, I’ll turn on the smooth jazz channel. It’s kind of funky. I like it for a bit until I get sick of it. Classical is good background music to work to, I find, as well. I can choose composer-specific channels (Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, etc.), time periods (baroque, renaissance, etc.) and even instrument-specific, such as piano and even oboe! You want to listen to classical music featuring the oboe all day? They have it!

I do have a soft spot for good old country twang, though. Hank Snow, Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff, Buck Owens and all that gang. I also love country music from the late 1960s and 1970s from the likes of Bobby Bare, Charley Pride, Charlie Rich, Bill Anderson, Glen Campbell and Marty Robbins.

Even the sad songs from that era make me smile — well, except for Dolly Parton’s. Have you ever heard Me and Little Andy and Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark? Those songs could make a stone burst into tears. I remember hearing her tell a story once about Me and Little Andy and about how she stopped performing it at concerts because it made the audience members cry too hard — especially the men!

Just harkening back to that good old country music puts me in a good mood. Charlie Rich’s The Most Beautiful Girl — is there a better country song than that? Perhaps there is — Buck Owens’s Act Naturally. Or maybe Bill Anderson’s Still? How about Patsy Cline’s I Fall to Pieces or Crazy? Or maybe Bobby Bare’s heartbreaking Sylvia’s Mother about a young man and his true love’s mother who keeps them apart.

Yeah, so I think I’ll do the country twang and 1970s country thing for a bit. Great stories. Great memories. Great artists. Great musicianship. And, most importantly, songs I can actually understand the lyrics to. That seems to be a rarity these days.

One Response to Hump Day: Eclectic tastes soothe savage music fan

  1. Hi Brian
    Good column. I’m so glad that I get your newsletter down here in Florida and can read your weekly columns. I too, like a variety of music. I was never a country fan though, I’m from the good old Rock and Roll era of the 50s’, 60s’ and 70s, although I do sing some of Patsy Cline’s songs down here at Kareoke. “Crazy” is my speciality!!!!
    They do have a nice radio station here called “The Dove” WDUV 105.5. They play all oldies but just the easy listening ones. None of the hard rock or loud stuff. It’s really a nice station to listen to.
    I like music on all the time so I either put the radio on to this station or the TV to the music channel’s “Easy Listening” or the “Oldies.” Don’t like it too quiet in the house, but again not too noisy.
    Keep up the good work and keep those good columns coming.
    Dianne