Friday, November 13, 2009

Pink Floyd and Mexican Food

I once heard the finest song possible and I needed to own it immediately.

I'm a casual music fan and, at the time, I'd only purchased a couple CDs, so I wasn't used to the quick devotion that hipster kids and pot smokers seemed to feel pretty regularly toward songs. But I couldn't get this one out of my head, and I needed my mom to take me to the mall so I could claim this wonderful sound.

It had never happened before and hasn't since.

The song was Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond." The exalted chorus. The tripped-out horns. The backup vocals, and G-majors, and Blakean lyrics. I loved it.





I was still waiting to figure out my favorite book, movie, painting, and pal--don't we always think we'll find those someday, in a stimulating fantasia of discovery, maybe in Budapest or Seattle, maybe when we have a different haircut?--but I knew that moment that I'd found my favorite song.

(Because of my interest in the tune, the music-sharing sight Pandora.com tells me I'm probably a fan of extensive vamping. Yes. It was, is, the main feature of my musical and linguistic taste, vamping. I love a crescendo. I'll try to keep this short, though.)

At the music store, the only copy of the album in stock was gold-plated, a collector's edition. It was 32 dollars. I was 16 and mostly cashless. Those protracted guitar riffs and synthesizer solos were about to be my one and only asset. I held it in my hands for five minutes, wondering what I should do. The song is 26 minutes long, I thought. And it comes with all these other songs, too. Bonus! Plus, if I don't purchase, this will've been a wasted trip, for me and my mom.

I did it. It was mine.




Buyer's remorse hit half-way through the first play. The album was good, I guess, but it went on and on. On top of that, now that I'd invested, I felt pressure to love it and that pressure didn't help matters.

Basically, I'd asked "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" to the dance before realizing that she was only a little beautiful, kinda dull, and 26 minutes long.

Over the years, I tried to get my money's worth by showing the gold-plating to Pink Floyd diehards who might've been impressed; I read the liner notes to deepen my own fanhood; I even amassed a large Floyd collection to bury the 32 dollar faux pas with a dozen bargains. Alas. I listened to the thing twice. My mistake haunted me.

I told this story at breakfast this morning and my good pal Zach, a seasoned music acquirer, teased me lightly. I'd made a classic blunder. My judgment had been deafened by the rapture of a first-listen.

But the saxophone at the end was just so cool!

He patted me on the back, with reassurances that I'd been hasty but not in an un-okay way.

I felt a little silly, and said, "Well, it wasn't the stupidest thing I've ever done."

Zach and I realized together that this was an odd argument on my part. I was trying to defend a moderately dumb decision by saying that I've committed far worse sins of idiocy. We ate some home fries. I thought. It seems that I'd rather be considered a big moron generally than a slight one specifically.

I was saying, basically, You think that's dumb? You should see some of the other stuff I've done. Which stuff I'm not going to tell you about. Boy howdy, you don't even know!

I was in the same pose the classically-unimpressed person strikes when encountering Mexican food: this is okay, but it's not like the bounty I had in TenĊchtitlan.

We all know that guy.




That guy annoys me. So you've had some good Mexican food. So what? Compare and contrast, fine, but don't diminish the present by insisting you've had a more authentic experience in every other situation than you're having currently, with me.

Zach could have said something similar in my direction:

If you've done something monumentally stupid, stop wasting my time with these Pink Floyd trifles. Out with it! Tell me the depth of your denseness. Why this shroud of secrecy? Why the stance that there's so much more to you than you'll ever reveal? Shine on!

You've never been--so stop trying to fake it--better, worse, crazier, dumber, or more fascinating than you are now.

I ate some home fries.

1 comment:

Zach said...

When I was younger (about your age at the point of purchase here), when I didn't have as much money, as much access to ripped cds, as much knowledge of what was available, it was a rare thing for me to acquire a cd. After I gained access to my undergraduate college's music library and could listen to as much as I wanted, both things I'd heard about and things I'd discovered for myself, there came a feeling of advanced consumption, of a need to consume. The more I learned, the less I knew. This was exhilarating and a little depressing. Partly because any mass absorption of media leaves me feeling a little displaced after I cut the cord. But also because I realized that when there's so much at hand, the time I had for it had diminished. When my brother got Yankee Hotel Foxtrot we listened to it a lot. We had favorite songs. We'd put it in and skip around. DJ Shadow was a revelation. It was so cool. Sounded like nothing else I was listening to and I took care to hear the songs over and over again. Partly because of the paroxysm of discovery I felt, but also because I owned 30 other cds, instead of 300, instead of 3000.

I know that this first bit would, will, should lead to greater knowledge. To greater satisfaction of slaked tastes. But I miss listening to a CD in the way I used to: Because it was something I wanted badly enough to actually have. Because it's cost comprised a double digit percentage of my net worth. Because I was just so happy to get it at all.