I love music of just about every type. I was raised on a steady diet of country music, which I no longer listen to. But as soon as I discovered Steppenwolf and the Doors (yes, I date myself, but I was far younger than most when I went to the Dark Side). While my young friends were listening to the nefarious bubblegum music, I would present my Mom with a new 45 from the Amboy Dukes (Ted Nugent), Deep Purple, or Iron Butterfly. When we were 6 and 12, my sister and I were sent to live with my uncle in LA. After the summer, he sent us to our grandmother in Savannah. I later learned he told her he couldn’t take that awful music any longer. Yes! At the proud age of 12, I was already making people crazy! I planted myself in the music of the 70s and 80s, and there I sit to this day–although some of the 90s and 00s do occasionally creep in. I listen to music when I write unless Word is reading my book back to me and always have it on in the car.
This brings me to another kind of music I seem to enjoy less and less as I get older—the ubiquitous “background” music out in the world at large, melodies I can’t seem to get away from. This blog began with a conversation hubby and I had recently. We went to a popular drugstore chain, so I could get my second Covid booster (yes, my arm is sore, but I feel fine). As soon as we stepped from the car, we were assailed by the intense, blaring notes of a funeral dirge. WTH? I kid you not! It poured from hidden speakers like some weird version of Phantom of the Opera (which it wasn’t). Was the pharmacy doing a haunted house in July? Actually, I admit, I liked it—we both did. I felt like I was watching Dark Shadows or something. We went inside. As we waited at the pharmacy for my shot, a weird mix of artists making up the store music screamed at us— Billy Joel, Elton John, Taylor Swift, Adele, plus some hip-hop I admit I don’t recognize. It was a bit loud, but I liked most of it. I understand where they’re going with the mix. Music is so personal that it’s impossible to please everyone. As we sat, I thought about all the music the public is subjected to, so I pulled out my phone and started cataloging the music I encounter on a day-to-day basis.
- Book store music is creepy and makes me look over my shoulder to see if anyone is following me. It’s supposed to be quiet, so all those people reading the book or magazine they don’t want to buy can concentrate.
- Music in the grocery store makes you boogie up and down aisles. If the customer gets lost in the music, they buy a lot of things and then wonder where they came from when they get home.
- Another note about drugstore music—it’s so loud I don’t feel bad about calling out for hubby two aisles over, so he knows where I am.
- Music in the bathroom at my doctor’s office is also loud, so you don’t have to hear someone else do their bits of business.
- Restaurant music is set at just the right volume, so it isn’t overpowering. However, you can still talk about people at other tables. You do have to shout a bit at your server. Maybe they’re slowly losing their hearing!
- Hardware store music is usually country music. It’s designed to either make you stay and browse and buy more than you need or get you out of there fast, so you don’t take up good ole boy space.
- Big Box store music is like that drugstore— Mixed up for the customers; it keeps you moving happily through the store and again, buying lots of stuff. You usually fail to notice the lack of employees around to help you.
- Malls are strange. They play a lot of seasonal music. Whatever the time of year, what’s in the background is usually soft and nonintrusive. I often wonder what those of other faiths think of the Christmas music playing. Maybe they don’t know the words, so they just enjoy the notes. I also wonder where they get some of those truly awful versions of carols.
- Department stores (anchor stores) often have the same music playing as the mall. Because the store is enclosed, the music is usually louder. I can deal with this, but not the occasional customer I run into who insists on singing aloud. Why are they always off-key and one note behind the melody? I used to glare at them when I was younger; now, I just scurry off in another direction. Let them sing. I don’t know what’s happening in their world…but I don’t have to listen to them!
My take on my list? Wear earplugs when you shop!
Music is very emotional to me. It can make me cry, raise me up, inspire me, and soothe me. Once, long ago, I was asked, as part of some idiotic exercise at work, would I rather lose my hearing or my sight? I don’t know what they thought they’d get from that reply. I still can’t answer the question. For me, it’s impossible to give up either. So, no more loud music, eye examinations every year, and I hope both last a long time!