Archive for April 7th, 2010


Musically Inclined

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality, Yesterday's Memories

The title of this posting is a little misleading. I’m not talking about my musical talents – I don’t have any to speak of, although my wife claims I sing fairly well at lower pitches (not quite as low as bass, but somewhere in the neighborhood). In this case, what I’m referring to is listening to music.

I enjoy a variety of musical styles, from country to pop, classical to jazz, and blues to New Age. My collection of a hundred or so CDs reflects my eclectic interests. With such a wide variety of tastes, choosing what to listen to at any give time can be a challenge. For years, many people have worked around this by copying, or “ripping”, their favorite songs from their discs onto their computers, and then arranging them to play in just such an order that the person is delivered into musical Nirvana. In the days before ripping software and CD burners we did something similar, only with LPs and cassette tapes. If you don’t know what those are, pretty much anyone over 35 should be able to explain them to you.

These days, the ultimate form of achieving an enlightened state is to put a computer-created arrangement of favorite music onto a portable player such as an Apple iPod or some other MP3 device. My children have all owned MP3 players (not iPods) for several years, and after having owned vehicles in which the radio was either broken or stolen, I decided that I wanted to jump on the MP3 bandwagon too. When I brought up the subject, my children didn’t believe me, and started asking me questions such as “why do you need one?” and “what would you do with a MP3 player?”.

It took a while, but finally my wish was fulfilled. My older son’s MP3 player had died, and he was a bit down over it. I found one at the world’s largest flea market (eBay) for a decent price, so I purchased it for him as a surprise Christmas present. The real surprise, however, was on me. When the player arrived and I unpacked it, I found a note tucked inside the shipping carton: “Dear Mr. Bernier, as my way of saying ‘thank you’ for your order, I have enclosed an extra gift. Merry Christmas!” Looking further into the carton, I found the seller had given me a second MP3 player! This one was much, much smaller than the one I had purchased for my son (1Gb compared to 4Gb for him), but I figured this would be perfect for my own needs, and put it away until my son had opened his gift.

With a MP3 player finally in hand, I set about trying to put together a song arrangement that would send me off to Nirvana along with everyone else. After all, why should I be left behind? I soon found that having a decades-long musical history in my head didn’t make it any easier to put such a collection together. TWO MONTHS later, after sifting through dozens of albums, ripping here and mixing there, I finally had my list. I downloaded the collection to my player, plugged in the headphones, and hit the Play button.

Ahhhh! Favorite songs from more than thirty years of listening filled the air. I closed my eyes, and the memories came flooding back. But that all-important question needed an answer: did I reach Nirvana, like so many others before me?

No. Or at least, not yet. I don’t know if I’ll get there either.

I may still be on the road toward enlightenment, and I may never get there, but at least the musical memories will help me pass the time…