The Sunday Salon – In which I reveal a few non-music facts

OR the totally true tale of a tone deaf reader

Music and books is a topic I see around but a topic I don’t understand and not for lack of trying. In general, I don’t listen to music and when I do it tends to be music I’m very familiar with; I don’t try out new music often. And I don’t try out new music while reading at all. The only place I regularly listen to music, and admit it’s for distraction purposes, is in the car while cursing snarled traffic. This doesn’t mean I don’t like music, because I do. I appreciate classical while cooking, I love songs I can sing along to in the car on long road trips, and when I see a song someone is listening to mentioned on their blog, I click on the link. I may not understand the connection but I’m curious as to why someone would pick that song.

Haruki Murakami is an author that falls into this topic. He’s been influenced by Western music and in particular jazz. Go ahead and google that if you don’t believe the woman who admitted in the previous paragraph to knowing nothing of music. Side note: I once saw Winton Marsalis play in Chicago. It was an interesting concert mostly because I didn’t understand any of it. Jazz is too discordant for me; I can’t find the rhythm. I spent the entire concert watching others to figure out why they were into it so much. I probably should have been paying closer attention to the concert itself though. What can I say; I was newly out of college and knew nothing. Anyway, while this Murakami/jazz connection has been made, and he’s admitted to enjoying jazz, I don’t get it. How can someone listen to something so random and write something so interesting? Maybe I need to try listening to some jazz while reading his books to understand it better.

Moving on to last night… We stopped at a friends’ house for a tree trimming party and were regaled with the sounds of Mary Poppins. They have a two year-old who knows and can recognize the different songs and was insistent on the one she wanted to hear. I didn’t recognize any of the songs. Yes, I was outshone by a two year-old when it came to musical knowledge. Shortly after, we stopped off at a bar to wish another friend a happy birthday. He loves music and his standards were played: Springsteen, U2, The Pogues. While flipping through the song list, I noticed several punk selections. I love punk. I know, I don’t get it either. You would think it would fall into the way too discordant category of music for me since I don’t understand jazz but I heart punk like you wouldn’t believe. And I have a most favorite song — Waiting for the Man by Nico and the Velvet Underground.

Here’s the connection I have to punk. And wait for it…it’s a book — The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. The main character, Henry, loves punk. In one scene, he’s waiting for someone, who happens to be a drug dealer, and he starts singing the song to himself. (Yes, the song is about a drug deal if you’re not familiar with it.) I went and looked it up because, well, I don’t remember why I did but I did. And I loved it. I fell in love with the song. Each time I hear it, I remember reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. Oh, memories. So anyway, this is my one and only music/book connection I have ever made to this day.

It’s what you get with a tone deaf reader. You were warned.

But I’m going to ask anyway. Do you have recommendations? I’m willing to give almost anything a listen.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy the company of some friends. Happy Sunday.

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2 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon – In which I reveal a few non-music facts

  1. I never liked jazz or blues until I read Murakami and then during After Dark I decided to buy Curtis Fuller’s Blues-ette album and it really transformed my reading of Murakami. Now I have a special Murakami soundtrack that I’m building with each book. I have Curtis Fuller, Coltrane and Bob Dylan so far. I LOVE Bob Dylan and I confess to not being remotely bothered about him before.

    I listen to music whilst reading quite often and try to match the music to book if I can but it isn’t always possible. It’s more because I hate getting stupid interruptions – like people coughing or smacking their lips, or the TV. But now I find it hard to read without music more then anything.

    I wouldn’t say I’m a particularly well-listened music reader or that I know a lot about music, compared to some. I just tend to come across it accidentally quite often though TV or films. I love film soundtracks – John Williams, Hans Zimmer both fantastic. Some soundtracks have a better impact on me then the actual film itself! Not a fan of The Last Samurai but the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer is beautiful.

    I read Shogun to that soundtrack – along with William’s ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ and now whenever I listen to that music I can feel that book within me. It’s quite strange. On a similar level, I listened to Karl Jenkin’s The Armed Man (neo-classical) whilst reading The Count of Monte Cristo and still, almost 7 years after reading that book I still feel it when I listen to that album.

    Recently actually I’ve found a lot of music through http://www.last.fm because it gives you recommendations based on what you’ve listened to and you can listen to radio stations for different artists that will group similar artists together etc.

    You can see what I’ve been listening to lately on my profile: http://www.last.fm/user/thebookcoop

    I was searching for Danish music there whilst reading a Danish book and came across a group called Under Byen and Micheal Simpson. It also introduced me through them to an icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds whom I love.

    I love this sort of modern classical, minimalist music and listen to quite a lot.

    I’m not a big punk fan… as such. Oddly, if I can associate music with a book or a film I tend to like it a lot more. I grew to like The Clash because of Rachid Taha (Arabic rock) who I discovered through the Black Hawk Down film (that was boring, but great soundtrack). So as you see I tend to piggy back music. If I listening to The Velvet Underground (which I’m listening to now on youtube) after it was mentioned in a book or elsewhere I’d probably like it more.

    I guess what I like about soundtrack music is that it tells a story and music I like usually becomes associated with stories.

    Saying that… this Velvet Underground group is quite good though I’ve never heard of them before. I’m not that much into punk I think.

    Right now I’m into Christmas carols and annoying Christmas pop! Just trying to get into the zone.

    • I keep meaning to look into last.fm. Thanks for the link. I should try the soundtrack route too. I prefer songs without lyrics when I’m doing something like reading or writing. It’s what I tend to listen to at work when things get noisy. It helps to block out the noise but isn’t distracting. When I listen to songs I know I end up getting lost in the lyrics and never quite get on the writing/working.

      I’m glad you’re liking Velvet Underground. 🙂 I think you can still enjoy them even if you don’t love punk.

      I should put on some Christmasy stuff. We have friends coming over and our place is finally all decorated and that would put it over the top!

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