The loneliness of music

There are a few things I don’t do (much of) any more. My sexuality is a lot less exotic: I’m less attracted to comedy; and music is still an important part of my life – maybe more than ever before – but I’m less inclined to play. I also read less, or at least, less crime fic and procedurals.

In each case, I am not sure how much the change is the natural progression of age, how much its some sort of psychological effect, how much it’s the hormones helping me to react differently. Though I have my theories. Which could, of course, be entirely wrong.

The sex side is one where I am pretty sure now I developed a lot of tricks and techniques along the way to avoid doing what always felt icky (like penetrative sex). Maybe I’ll pick up on that again later, but part of the joy of transition is being able to start from scratch which, in my case, is probably from the perspective of a fairly romantic woman.

Comedy… may have been diversion: I’m not sure. Since I developed a stage set or two that mostly focussed on self-hate and sending up my body, it does make me wonder whether the seeds of now weren’t sprouting prematurely a couple of decades back.

And the reading? I have always found conflict difficult to deal with: and now I find I am reacting even more strongly to anything that hints at conflict. Which makes murder and mayhem not a good place for me to go. FFS! I end up crying over some of the personal stories in the cheapie mags like “Heat” and “Real Life” – so crime procedural is decidedly dodgy.

But today, it was music that caught my attention. No doubt I am reading far too much into one wistful moment. Or two.

Down at the local pub, taking the boy for a twenty-minute xbox-break, that turned into a two-hour explore the woods and race around after other pre-teen boys episode. And, it being bank holiday, the pub has installed a load of rare ales, and is hosting several bands over the weekend. Good but middle of the road, given to reprising a lot of bittersweet stuff from the 70’s.

I ended up listening to covers of tracks by the Eagles I hadn’t heard for twenty years.

Looking, listening, remembering. “Music was my first love”… (that’s a line, for anyone up on music trivia, to dredge from memory!). I used to love sitting at the piano, playing thru stuff that I could play… and then, when I got bored with that, heading off into improv territory. I suspect, like most amateur musicians, I was far too obsessed with working in minor sevenths, for the melancholy value.

But it gave satisfaction, of a sort.

Looking, listening. I loved listening this afternoon. But remembering, it struck me that music, getting inside music the way blokes do is such a lonely thing to do. Sure, there’s the camaraderie of bands. But still, music is essentially a desolate place to go.

I wondered, as I wonder at so many things nowadays, whether some gender generalisation is allowed here. How lonely it is to be a bloke: how music fits that loneliness very well.

At the bar, I chatted to Sue, a local therapist/nutritionist. Well, we chatted, and smiled a little as we both fell into rhythmic motion – too half-hearted to be really dancing – at some tracks. Oh yes: there is a loneliness too to being female, but it lies elsewhere than this (as another conversation reminded me powerfully).

But music – and dance – feel like a place where women often come together, whilst, watching the guys on stage – really watching, it felt as though music is where guys often go to deal with being alone. Which may be why I don’t need to play it quite as much as I did.



2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Circadian said,

    That’s an unusual angle. I may have to think about how I think about music now. Guess I always associated music with socialising – when I was younger, it meant being with a group of people going to a concert, or going to some dance thing to meet people. As I’ve become older, I listen to music mostly by myself, so it is more of a lonely (selfish?) thing. The style of music I listen to has also changed. Less beat-driven (for dancing), and more introspective. I wonder if that is due to getting older? (I won’t say “getting more mature” – as I think most women already appreciate, men do not mature – just that their toys get bigger and more expensive!)
    Anyway, one of the amazing things about music – doesn’t matter from what era, from classical to the modern day music via folk etc – is the way it can still express feelings or emotions that are difficult to put into words. My tastes may change, and some things that I used to like can make me cringe now, but i think that music will always stay with me.
    Writing this, I suppose that my relationship with music has changed. It’s now more personal, and less about being with others. I still get the urge to share something new I find with friends, so there is still a smidgeon of social aspect left, but I think the change is more down to age than gender in this case. As I’ve become older, the range of activities change. Responsibilities change what I can/cannot do (get away with!), so the all-night clubbing is out, and the music that goes with that is not so suitable to listen to in the half-hour or so free time that I may have.
    Interesting piece – sorry for the ramble, but I was just writing my thoughts as they came to me. Music does have a hold on me still, so it’s a piece close to my heart. Hope to see others thoughts on this too.

  2. 2

    kerri (australia) said,

    thats spot on, about music is “”where guys often go to beat loneliness”” i have said to greg who is miles away from myself and the kids, are you listening to music again , his reply “” well kerri , I like listening to music when i am bored and lonely”” he listens to that trance music all sounds the same to me…lol… very intuitive jane. )

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