The Same River Twice
The Drowning Pool sort of meets that description, but I was startled by two elements I don't remember from my first reading: the intensely poetic description of the physical world and how hollow some of hero Lew Archer's machismo sounded. (The Drowning Pool, published in 1950, was probably serialized in the pulps; in later Macdonald novels, Archer eschewed the tough-guy stance for a more nuanced psychological/observational one.)
Holy cow, I thought, how could I have missed that the first time I read it? The answer is, of course, that 25 years ago I wasn't the me I am now. I had fewer experiences and I read more for plot than all of the other elements that comprise good fiction.
The same thing is true of music. I'm not talking about how different conductors can change your view of a great workin his final years, I would go see Leonard Bernstein every time he cam eto New York, not because I knew he would be great, but because I knew he would challenge my understanding of the works he performed. Sometimes I thought he was wrong, but even then he made me experience the piece in a new way.
What impresses me about this hobby of oursof listening to the same recordings over and overis the same thing that impressed me upon re-reading The Drowning Pool: I'm not the same me now and the work I'm experiencing isn't the same thing it was when I last listened to it.
Take my first recording of Mahler's 1st, for example. I still listen to that Munch/BSO recording, but I now hear it so differently. It sounds very much like a young man's symphony now. Same recording; different me.
Growing up in Virginia, one generation away from the farm, country music was everything I wanted to escape from. Bluegrass was even worse, since my grandfather played bluegrass with his disreputable buddies. How I now wish I'd hung out with those chewing 'baccy stained old menthat high lonesome sound has become a part of my life and I wish I had a genuine connection to those old rebels who created and nurtured it.
When I was a child, I had a very limited sonic world. The simple act of living and listening has expanded it. At 18, I never could have appreciated Kora player Tomani Diabati, now I can't imagine a world where he doesn't matter to me. Heck, at 18, I didn't even appreciate Led Zeppelin because of Robert Plant's screechtook me decades to get over that one. It'll probably take me decades to live that confession down. (It was Jeff Buckley who convinced me to give LZ another chance. Thanks, Jeffsweet dreams.)
I have to admit that it encourages me that all I have to do to have a completely different record collection is to live and learn. How do you like them odds?