Instead, She Says "Heart"

Jim Tavegia wrote:

Stephen, I am curious as to your other band mates and other musician friends you have had over the years, have any of them taken even a modest plunge into HighEnd audio? This question is similar to my experience of music teaching professionals who seem less interested in owning decent audio playback gear. Being unable to transfer ones passion about something to another is often times frustrating: "Why do I get it and they don't?"

Our singer, Jim Teacher, only listens to music while driving his car. I don't think he even owns a radio of any sort. His girlfriend has an iPod, but I'm pretty sure JT steers clear of it. If JT is interested in music, at all, his interest stands closer to music as a form of language. JT is interested in why language exists. JT is interested in words.

However, when the band stopped by my place a couple of weeks ago for Pizza and Beer before Practice (PaBbP), I sat them all down to listen to the new album through the hifi.

Alan, our bass player, seemed more interested in the November issue of Sync [no longer being published], dressed in its skimpy iPod doily, staring up at him from my couch. And who can blame him, really?

Dave, our drummer, typically hears nothing but drums, so he was no help. He did, however, suggest that the drums were not loud enough. [Dave: I kid, I kid. I love you. Please don't quit the band.]

Fuzzy, the other guitarist, didn't seem too impressed. But, seriously, I think Fuzzy just needed a bit more time alone with the system. Fuzzy's like that; it takes him five hours to tie his shoelaces and he likes to raise flowers. Which is to say: He's careful and deliberate with things, and is very sensitive. I honestly do think that, if Fuzzy listened to music over the hifi, he would appreciate all that it has to offer. But, Fuzzy probably doesn't need a hifi to appreciate nuance and detail in music. It's like Buddha's story of the symphony cellist and the Sansui receiver. Fuzzy's brain freaks me out. He's some sort of musical psycho-genius, often overwhelmed by the possibilities. He hears and imagines things that no one else can hear or imagine. Because I now know this, when I write a song, I'm careful to create only the simplest of frames. Within that frame, Fuzzy can spill and spray and drip his mad riffage like Pollack across an enormous floor. I just try to stay out of the way.

JT, of all people, however, seemed to instantly realize the value of the system. He immediately started pointing to places in space, motioning at the images created by the speakers, and fumbling for words to describe what he'd heard. But JT is not one to sit still in a single spot for long. Soon, he was up again, ready to pick up a rock and clobber something.

I was kind of disappointed, overall, by the band's reaction to the system. I take that back: I wasn't disappointed by the band's reaction to the system. I was disappointed by their reaction to the music. I expected them to be knocked out by the sound. I wanted them to be just as overwhelmed and impressed as I was. They were more impressed by the price.

"How much do these things cost?"
"Two-thousand dollars a pair."

Curses and looks and dropped jaws and curses.

Mike Olear, who recorded our new album, is my one friend who has taken a modest plunge into the high-end. But Mikey comes at it from the pro-audio side of things. He does live sound for a living. I mean: he is A Sound Guy. If you were to walk into Mikey's apartment — [When he had an apartment, that is. Mikey's currently living out of his Subaru. He's a rambling man.] — it wouldn't be uncommon to find a copy of the latest issue of Mix sitting next to his toilet. Mikey owns a pair of M-Audio mini-monitors, a Frontier Design Group Tango24 DAC, and some other stuff that slides nicely into an equipment rack, but he has also expressed interest in things like the Benchmark DAC1 and Grace m902.

Mikey doesn't show much emotion about anything. He's kind of always sleepy-looking, actually. It has nothing to do with marijuana. But I can tell you, with some certainty, that he was impressed by the music. We were listening to the new album — How Can A Man Be Tougher Than The World? — the album that Mikey recorded for us, which makes it his baby, too. And he was very happy with the way it sounded. He didn't say much, but he had that proud papa look in his sleepy eyes. It has nothing to do with marijuana. Or Heineken. It has nothing to do with Heineken.

The drums could be a bit louder, though, he did agree.

And when Justin Morey of the Black Hollies came over this weekend to listen to their new album — Crimson Reflections (also recorded by Mikey, and to be released by the Ernest Jenning Record Company early next year) — he was wildly enthusiastic. No doubt about it. Curses and looks and dropped jaws and curses.

Some do "get it" more than others, however. This has become clear to me. She, for instance, certainly does. We had only been listening for a few moments when:

"God," she said, as we sat listening to I can't remember what, "I heart these speakers!"

She's also interested in words. About nine months or so ago, she gave up on the word "love." She won't say it. My dear and beautiful friend won't say the word "love." Instead, she says "heart."

"Do you heart her?" she asks me.
"Yes," I say, easily.
"And I heart these speakers."
"You do?" I ask.
"Yes. I want to marry them."
"No, you don't."
"Yes, I do."

Al Marcy's picture

Some recording guy said he played recordings of orchestras for the musicians one at a time: if they each said their instrument should be a bit (or a lot) louder, he figured he had the mix right :)I lay in bed and listen for hours every day. I still don't get it ;)

Jim Tavegia's picture

Stephen, thanks for the effort. It was interesting to me and to you as well. I guess this makes sense. Bankers don't go home at the end of their day and just sit counting their money. Or accountants spend hours triple checking the balacing of their checkbooks. Somehow I think that Betty Crocker keeps baking when she gets home. No one has seen her do it, but I'll bet she does.

hockster's picture

C'mon, let's face it. Musicians or music lovers are into music. Whereas people in our sick hobby are into the gear. Rarely do the two meet.