I didn't grow up with music, really. It was pretty quiet in my house. My parents never collected records or 8 tracks. They had a few cassettes of things like John Denver and Neil Diamond, but we rarely played them. Our stereo was an old tuner my dad had been making work for a long time; it didn't have a top, so you could see inside all the circuits and wires. When he turned it on, he played classical music. But it was rare, and I'm not sure I ever listened to an entire piece all the way through. I never developed a sense of composers or styles, I just knew it didn't catch me.
I loved music though--I sang all day long if I could. One of my jobs was taking out the trash all around the house, and I dragged my trash bag from room to room, singing every camp song I ever learned. I hadn't finished my repertoire by the time I got the bag out to the curb, so I would stand there and finish, loudly.
I sang in choirs and learned to play the piano, saxophone, recorder and bassoon. I've been longing to learn to play guitar a long time--I even have one and know how to tune it. I discovered top 40 in jr. high and celebrated when Madonna's "Crazy for You" was the number one song locally for 30 days in a row. People talked fervently about Duran Duran, but I only ever heard "View to a Kill." My knowledge of popular music is as shallow and unformed as my knowledge of sports (I don't have favorite teams either--thought the Cleveland Browns was baseball until a month ago).
I sang in a church praise band for years--and that's actually what finally got me to Sunday worship regularly. I can sit and listen to someone play acoustic guitar until the world ends.
It isn't that I never developed any taste for music--I have music. It's just I don't know how to answer when someone asks me what kind of music I like--there's a whole identity wrapped up in that answer, and I don't really mean to claim the identity when I say I like the music. If I say, for instance that I like Indigo Girls, there's often an assumption or expectation that I know others in the genre, and honestly, I just don't. And beyond that, I don't know the stories behind the musicians and the bands and the songs and the tours. It doesn't catch me like that.
I love music, but often have to remind myself to listen to it. I'll put it on in the car sometimes, but I'm just as likely to listen to silence for three hours and not feel like I'm missing anything.
Sometimes when the children are gone, and I have no house guests, and the cats are sleeping, and it's late at night, and the fans and the heater and the A/C are all off, I sit and listen to the silence that rings in my ears, and it is so beautiful and peaceful I could listen to that until the world ends.
But I felt at Wild Goose, and have felt in other places, that I'm missing a vital connection to other people in my utter lack of music cred. And then again, there are a lot of ways I've been feeling disconnected this last decade, and I'd like to step back into community. But I do love the silence when I can find it.
(Wild Goose west is in Oregon over labor day weekend. You should go if you can.)