Sunday, September 1, 2019


It turns out that my drug of choice is music. 

This has not come as a result of a testing process – a supplement that came with “The Observer” newspaper in around 2001, about the culture of drugs, demystified how recreational drugs worked so effectively that I have never felt the need to seek them out. It is why I tend to associate the effects of LSD with lack of sleep – I am aware the brain’s synapses are compromised in both cases.

The supplement made no mention of music, but why would it? To even be considered as a kind of drug, music would have to be lined up alongside food, sex and caffeine, and other things where they become problematic in their overuse. Like caffeine, I may use music as a tool – it wouldn’t be a surprise that I may be listening to my Walkman as I write this because, in this particular moment, it is helping me concentrate on the task at hand.

What has brought on this thought? Like all confrontational moments, it was a slice in time. In my case, it was leaving home for work in haste, and forgetting my headphones. With no music to help me continue to wake up, and relax ahead of a gruelling work day, the bus journey I almost missed was conducted in total silence, giving my mind time to learn how to deal with the problem I had created. I attempted to rationalise the lack of background sound, presenting it to myself as an opportunity to undertake my day in a different way, but by the mid-point of the journey, I began feeling sweaty – I was not used to the silence, not used to feeling without access to music. 

I had to buy lunch from a supermarket once I was off the bus – I could buy another pair of headphones from there. Once inside, and before picking up said lunch, I stood in front of rows of pegs, with different sets of headphones for sale, mostly in-ear versions that block outside noise – I still need to hear where I am going, I am not a complete animal. However, the problem I created for myself begat further problems – which ones to buy, how much to pay to fix my problem (as in buying a cheap pair to used once, or spend more on headphones like I usually use), and then factoring in the cost of a pair of scissors to open the plastic packaging.

As naturally as could be expected, I left for the last walk to work with the worst possible outcome – a cheap pair of in-ear headphones, a third of what I spent on a proper pair, and with a third of the volume. Half my remaining journey to work was spent walking along a busy road – I could not hear the first minute of the song I was playing. In that moment, doing nothing would have been an easier option, but I did what I knew would be best for me, no matter how expedient it turned out. 

Was there a need for me to tell you any of this? It’s good to share, and it’s good to make sense of the path down which your actions will lead you. I could have augmented this with music theory, and how music is used to lead people into feeling certain emotions, for example during films, and how people may not listen to music because of this – the philosopher and composer Theodor Adorno would have been good for this, but he hated jazz, so I don’t care. Not having mentioned any songs or artists by name, just needing MUSIC, says a lot – my taste is good, but I still hate silence.

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