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What Can Brown Do for You?, or, A Young State of Mind, or, Listening to Music that causes Distention between Two Faculty Members

So there is this band I kind of like.  Sigur Ros.  They are from Iceland.  Its 4 guys that make rock music.  Their songs are sometimes sung in Icelandic, or in a made up language called Hopelandic.  I have seen them twice, live, and it’s the most spiritually moving experience you can have at a show.  Most people that go to see them end up crying during their set.  The guys in the band say that they aren’t trying to create a spiritual experience, only something that reflects them and their country.  I wouldn’t mind seeing them again in the future. 


            And, there is this guy I work with who really enjoys this band of hippies to the max.  Ok, an understatement.  He cuddles with their albums at night before he goes to bed.  He bakes cakes and adorns them with candles to celebrate the release date of these albums.  He places them on an alter at night, lighting three candles around each, and prays to the God’s of music that this band be immortalized in the renaming of heavenly bodies:  the sun would be called John, the Moon—Paul, the Milky Way—Ringo, and the Horseshoe Crab Nebula—George. 


            So maybe that last bit is hyperbole on my part, but you get the idea. We are very passionate about our music, but it has a distinctly different tone and affect in our ears.  We listen to music for different reasons—we tell our students to listen to such-and-such an artist based on factors x, y, and z.  These factors are different for us, and thus we don’t exactly see eye to eye when it comes to judging music or what constitutes GOOD music.  And for that matter, we are both guys, which means we think we are right, and the other guy is wrong.  So rather than enjoy music in harmony, we dissect each other’s tastes, crack jokes about the music (that ultimately gets under our skin), and we create a nice little rivalry. 


            We are both relatively young guys with an eclectic taste in music.  Our lives have been changed because of the music we listen to.  We both teach music in our classes—mine study lyric interpretation, his study rock music, its roots, and its evolution to what it has become today.  We both feature music posters and albums in our room.  We “claim” to have an open mind about all music, but let’s face it, we have our allegiances.  We are loyalists to a certain few artists….and when are loyalties are challenged, it’s on.


            Loyalty, as defined by the prestigious, means “to be faithful to one’s oaths, commitments, obligations.”  I wondered to myself, why do he and I argue for our music so vehemently?  Would we be willing to go to war to fight for our right to jam to our…jams, and defeat the evil people trying to overthrow our precious musical foundation? 


            We argue for our music like we have given wedding vows to never betray our music, until death do us part, to defend it to the death.  For rich or for poor, in sickness and in health.  We’ve taken the plunge.  Tied the knot.  Two have become one.  If anyone here objects to this union, please speak now or forever hold your peace.  And it’s about then that one of us jumps into that solemn ceremony and screams….you can do better!


            The crushing part to that is: he isn’t making fun of our bride (the music); he is making fun of me.  He is, in essence, saying there are so many fish in the sea, why did you have to pick one from such a tiny pond?  Expand your horizons.  Go where no one has gone before.  Pull a Lewis and Clark.  Become Magellan.  Christopher Columbus your way into broader musical horizons! 


            The only problem is—it’s like he just insulted my integrity by saying that.  He insulted my bride!  And at some point, a line has to be drawn.  Not only do you have to stand up for something, but you have to defend it with conviction, passion, maybe even a little bit of lunacy, because after all, this is music we are talking about here…not a real person.  So, why get so bent out of shape over something that isn’t even ours to begin with?  We didn’t create it.  We didn’t invent or design this art form.  We don’t eat, sleep, and breathe it for the most part.  But why be so committed, why be so firm in creating DIS-harmony, when the whole goal to music is to join harmonies together in one, holy matrimony? 


            If one were to exam lions, there might be answers.  A group, or pack of lions that travel together, is called a Pride.  A pride consists mainly of females, and a few dominant males.  The females of course enjoy the security of traveling in large groups (for example, multiple girls going to the bathroom at the same time).  The males, for the most part, enjoy traveling with an entourage of eye candy.  But one too many males and the attention gets shared—and it affects the dynamic of the pride, and there ensues some tension, fighting, large scale disagreements.  In other words, DISharmony.


            So maybe this is our problem.  My colleague and I travel with separate Prides.  We are surrounded by great music.  We don’t want anything to interfere with our dynamic.  Our “ladies” if you will.  We get territorial.  We rawr with the best of them.   We intimidate the other males when they are trolling for the lion’s tale.  Our Pride cannot give in to the outsiders.  We need to stay strong, unified, stand up for each other. 


            However, there isn’t anything there saying that we have to eliminate the outsider.  We don’t need to kill.  We just need to stand firm, and kindly request to the lion to go find another Pride, or create one for yourself.  But the deeper aspect to all this is…there are many Prides that coexist together; they just don’t crowd each other’s space.  Because after all, there is plenty of jungle out there to roam, it doesn’t belong to us, and we can hopefully enjoy our own spouses without domestic disturbances!                                 


About R. Ward

A husband, father, teacher, and struggling man of God.

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