Music is a Miracle

It is only now that I’m beginning to realize how much I love music. I mean, it should be obvious, but it doesn’t fit in with my self-image. I’m a movie guy. I’m a reader. I’m not a musician. I only listen to music all the damn time. I’ve spent a chunk money on Sonos speakers that will allow me fill the house with music.

My imagined pen-name is TW Nelson – a combo of Tom Waits and Prince’s surname. Not a Sedaris, not a Fincher. Musicians.

Vinyl is a miracle.

Stereo is a miracle.

Just think about vinyl, just for a second. Let me, a person who knows nothing about science or How Things Work in general, walk you through the process. There is a plastic disk. The disk has grooves in it – and in these grooves are little bumps. A metal pin is then placed on this spinning disk and almost immediately in small (or not so small) boxes, cones vibrate and the true-to-life sounds of The Beatles, a symphony orchestra, a shredding guitar solo, or Freddie Mercury’s vocal gymnastics fill your room or the inside of your head.

I know there’s a technical explanation for how this works, but we all know this is some kind of science prank. There’s no real explanation. This is magic. There are wizards in this world and they have devoted their time to creating music for us.

One of the greatest moments of my life came at some point in my childhood. I don’t remember much, but I remember it happened in the bedroom I shared with my brother. He was being uncommonly friendly, possibly because he had something to share and no one else interested in his new discovery. So, I was the de facto beneficiary.

He summoned me over and put headphones over my ears. You will note that we both had to stand near his stereo so his curly-pigs-tail headphone lead could reach.

And then he pressed PLAY.

It was Queen. I can’t remember exactly which song, but I’m going to go for “Now I’m Here”. It’s not the most well-known Queen song but it is an excellent example of one thing: people messing around with stereo.

The sound travels (through my head!) from one side to the other…and then back again! It plays different sounds in each ear! I had never heard anything like it. It seemed like a miracle, and in a way it was.

What other lifeforms on Earth not only makes sounds like this, but can record those sounds and mess about with them quite so wonderfully? Sure, birds might make an impressive racket on occasion, but can they then play it backwards, slow it down, speed it up, play part of it in one ear and the second part in the other? Of course not – birds are not in any way skilled at music production. But humans, we can do that.

And now, 40 or so years later, I can do that kind of creative messing about myself, with Garage Band on my Mac. And if I wasn’t working, watching Stranger Things, sleeping, taking photos of my dogs, or writing 350 words every day, you bet I’d be doing so.

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