Other Ears

Cross-eyed Rosie 3I used to claim to enjoy any and all musical genre as long as the music was “good”. I would list only two exceptions: Rap and Country Western. Somehow those were the only two genre I’d never had the patience to tolerate. Then one day I spouted off in this vein to a fellow grad student. The next time we crossed paths the fellow handed me a CD. It contained his own select mix of rap music.

Suddenly I was hearing rap for the first time. I was hearing it through someone else’s ears. It took only a few trips across that CD before I removed rap music from my list of absolute exceptions. I had ears to hear once a kind person chose not to write me off as just another ignoramus and challenged me to try out his ears, if just for a bit.

I still don’t listen to a great deal of rap or hip hop, but I am hopefully just a little less likely to write music off based on just a few bars of intro and a few decades of prejudice. Whatever the genre, somebody cared enough about something on their inside to bring it out in just that way. In most cases it took a whole bunch of people who cared enough to bring a piece of music out in fully orchestrated and engineered form, and often a whole bunch of people had to identify pretty intensely with this music before it had a chance to reach my ears. Given all that, there must at least be a possibility that my world will be enlarged and enriched over the three to ten minutes it might take to witness the heart of another person – or if not the heart, at least a person’s angst, anger or funny bone.

And of course live music is always best.

I have once or twice when passing through Nashville taken the opportunity to attempt a cure for my aversion to Country Western. I found it strangely difficult to find live CW there. The Grand Ole Opry, at least on the night I popped by in the company of an orthodox jewish banjo player of my acquaintance, seemed to dance all around CW in their efforts to entertain and engage. I popped in to the Station Inn one night, but was treated instead to an evening of comedy – mostly making light of CW. Another night I drove 30 minutes out of town to hear a fellow named Adam Pope. All three of us in the audience were well entertained, but not with country western. I highly recommend his Shot in Reno track. Maybe I just didn’t know where to look in that town.

So before you inundate me with mixes, bear in mind that I apparently define Country Western very narrowly. There’s even a possibility my definition is nothing other than Bad Country. None-the-less, I have promised myself to listen with new ears so it probably behooves me to borrow yours should I get the chance. If only for a bit.

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