Musical Detox

I never learned to play an instrument, my singing voice is horribly off key, I know nothing about how music is made, and if you played a classical piece for me, I couldn’t tell you what instrument was making what sound. But I love music, mostly for the way it condenses emotional states and releases them in a 3.5-minute catharsis. It has been a great inspiration for my writing.

However, some music can be like “junk food” for your brain because it’s repetitive and the lyrics are disgusting, degrading, or just plain idiotic. Crappy music that I listened to repeatedly in high school is still in my head now, 10 years later. If someone mentions legalizing marijuana, Sean Paul’s “We Be Burnin'” immediately jumps into my head and doesn’t leave. On the talk radio station I sometimes listen to, a tiny clip from a song I had heard 13 years ago started playing as a transition, and I instantly recalled all the lyrics to the song and it got stuck in my head for the next day or so.

Music is pretty much unavoidable. You hear it in the grocery store, in the dentist’s office, blasting from car windows, and so on. But is it really necessary to have music on all the time? Earlier this week, I walked into the eye doctor’s office, and Maroon 5 was playing. I wrote an earlier post about the ubiquity of Maroon 5, so this didn’t shock me. But as I wandered around the floor looking at frames and waiting for my pupils to dilate, Maroon 5 songs kept playing. It was beginning to get annoying, and I was wondering why they’d play that kind of music in an eye doctor’s office. Why not classical or smooth jazz, or something without smutty lyrics or even without vocals at all? Is it a proven scientific fact that playing horrible pop music helps sell eyeglass frames?

I stopped listening to music (except classical and Gregorian chant) a couple of months ago, mostly so I could try to forget about all the nasty lyrics I used to brainwash myself with. As I walked around the eye doctor’s office, my vision getting blurrier and the sunlit world outside getting more and more painful to look at, I began to think that maybe if I hadn’t given up music, the constant playing of Maroon 5 wouldn’t bother me that much, or perhaps it would fade into the background and I wouldn’t have noticed it at all.

So essentially, I’m waiting for all these songs to cycle out of my head or get shoved somewhere so deep in my memory that they’ll get lost completely. It’s been good to have days when I have nothing in my head except my own thoughts.