We had lunch today at Blueberry Hill, one of St. Louis' more famous landmarks. I settled into a deliciously onion-saturated French onion soup and a pint of Guinness while David and Ruth ate a hamburger and veggie sandwich respectively.
I was sitting at a booth that looked up onto these jukeboxes. They weren't playing, but another jukebox was. Firstly, The Animals' "We've Got To Get Out of This Place":Then came "Wonderwall" by Oasis.
It was a strangely apt combination. Both British pop groups, both bookends of a sort for my interest in rock music. Even though they came and went long before I started to listen seriously to pop music in the early 1970s, The Animals have always been a favorite. One of the first bands I explored and one that continues to move me.
Oasis move me too, but they represent just about the end of my true gut-involved fascination with rock music. Nothing that has come since has really engaged me and I listen almost exclusively to classical music, old and modern, these days.
Part of this is undoubtedly due to the splintering of rock music into a thousand shards of sub-genres and the overall homogenization of pop music into a shimmering mirage, not without substance in places, but lacking any truly interesting musical innovations. Mostly, though, it's because music has lost that centrally pivotal role in my own sense of self. When I had less, knew less, felt far less assured than I do today and was full of anxieties about almost everything that was come, music was a very solid rock to rest my emotions on. The music that spoke most directly to me during that time was rock music.
Now I don't need music for that purpose. I look for different things and I find them in the depth and sophistication of 'serious' music. It's a strange adjustment. In every respect, my life is better now than ever before, but I still find a pull – and a strangely compelling pull – towards that older way of listening and feeling when I hear these songs again. It tells me that on some level I actually miss those distant and more disturbed times.
But I wouldn't seriously want to go back.