Friday, May 13, 2011

Man, I really miss music

I grew up in Nashville. Music City, USA. My hometown is traditionally associated with Country music, but recording artists from other genres are regularly spotted in Middle Tennessee. Nashville is now home to Sheryl Crow, and has always been where the Kings of Leon hung their hats. Ben Folds, Elvis, Ryan Adams, Paramore and The Features have all recorded in studios on Music Row (or nearby). My students are always impressed when I mention that Ke$ha dropped out of my high school to move to LA and make it big.

Music has always been part of my life. While I'm not that Nashvillian who always has her iPod with her and trolls the latest releases for the newest music, I've always been surrounded by song. Grammy worthy performances at every Christmas pageant, legitimately talented street buskers hawking their skills outside bars on Broadway, and surprise performances by REM at the Mercy Lounge are no surprise to a Nashville native.

And now I live here. Saudi Arabia. Land of no music. Music is actually frowned upon in Islam and is all but strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia. The clerics feel that music distracts devoted Muslims from their worship, so Saudi students don't learn it. In fact, the Arts in general are discouraged.

As a result, there is no music in the malls, grocery stores or restaurants. At all. Elevators are eerily quiet. Starbucks does not feature the latest hipster sell-out indie artist of the month. Of course, there are still shebab that zoom by on the road near our house with bass bumping and the windows rolled down, so this country's not complete devoid of tunes.

I've been recapping this season of Glee tonight and I realized that I am extremely homesick every time I watch an episode. It's not because I used to watch it with my best friends or anything like that--though it was regularly water cooler talk the next morning. The show makes me miss home because there's MUSIC! Good music, and often times the music of my childhood. The show features artists that are likely unknown to the target audience, but they were the artists I heard when I was little.

So far, I hadn't been able to pinpoint what it is that I miss most about being home. Is it real, authentic Heinz ketchup? Traffic laws that are obeyed? The ability to drive and dress however I like? No. It's music. I cry every Sunday night when I watch the webcast of church. I miss the hymns, and I miss my choir. I miss being able to pop into Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and hear really good music from a totally unknown artist. I miss the acoustics of the Ryman auditorium and having the chance to see artists like Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller just 15 minutes from my house. I miss getting to hear the next big Country songs months before they hit the radio stations in other states.

I miss Nashville, but more than anything, I miss music.

Vicariously yours,

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