A jazz trio played in the garden where I work. They were the real deal, not one of those easy listening, ersatz jazz groups you hear in elevators and hospital waiting rooms. I’m not a jazz fan but the few pieces I like are hard core and abstract. I went home and tried out some jazz on Pandora. I inserted a Theolonius Monk station right above my Obituary death metal station. I listened for a few minutes before inserting a John Coltrane station right underneath that. I listened to that for a bit. Nah.
I felt like a pretentious bourgeois wannabe listening to it. Ironic since this music started out as edgy and was created by oppressed black people. I relate to death metal more than I do to jazz. I get the feeling that some people listen to it because they think it’s what sophisticated, intellectual, or middle-class people of a certain age are supposed to listen to. I know there are genuine enthusiasts but I wonder about the rest. I appreciate the great jazz artists, but these days I think a lot of people attach it to the complacency of the “good life,” while it used to be associated with the avant-garde and artists or people who were on the edge. I don’t want to get into politics so I won’t elaborate on what I think is wrong with the concept of the “good life.” People can create a cocoon for a moment in time but there’s always some threat hovering over it.
As a black person, dirty road house blues music does it for me. It’s the music I relate to. These people remind me that the good life is a fucking illusion. It reminds me of my forefathers in the strain and toil of the cotton fields. I appreciate the beauty in every group. I just love the pathos of being black and I appreciate being part of the African Diaspora. So my rejection of jazz for the most part has nothing to do with me denying part of my heritage or whatever.
Life is life and sometimes while life is being life you still have to do shit you don’t want to do, like dishes, laundry, vacuuming. There are job decisions I have to make. And at my age it’s scary, but I don’t have any choice. As soon as I finish reading the proof copy of my book I have to get on with this task. This is why I’m moving slowly as I alluded to in previous posts. I’m afraid of what’s on the other side. And oy gevalt — I have oral surgery issues! Though I have insurance it still means more pain and more money. It’s overwhelming. So, to aid me in my day to day tasks when it gets rancid, I listen to my death metal station on Pandora as I wash dishes, throwing them from the sink to the dish rack, angrily. The music makes me feel like I’m not alone in my existential mire. I’m not always like this, but, hmmm…. I wonder. Maybe I’m just angry because the people who run the good life won’t let me in. Eh?