During my formative through coming of age years my little universe was always and only as limited as the variety of my personal music library. This insight was first observed and expressed to me with positive reinforcement by my younger brother via one of his 2nd grade art class projects when i was in the 6th grade. One day he came home and set what looked like an interesting steampunk-ish paperweight on my desk in front of me while i was drawing and listening to some probably collectible vinyl of my parents.
“What’s this Jeffy? It’s neat.” I asked my brother, who hadn’t taken his curious and expectant gaze off me.
“It’s you, Ses!” he proclaimed with equal parts glee and pride.
“Oh cool! I had no idea I was so geometric, or had such muted shine on so many soft acute angles…. can you tell me more about it, or, um me? Please?!” I leaned in for the lesson, ready to be schooled on, well, myself.
“We had to choose someone in our family and make a sculpture of them with clay then fire it in the kiln and i chose you. I know you hate everything normal so when i went to make you i wanted to sculpt you like you would not hate so i thought of you and how you love and protect* so much your music and i made this! Do you get it? It’s from the pink floyd cover – that head from that weird island, but as a house…. because music means too much to you… because music is your home! You like it right??”
“No Jeffy, I LOVE it. But i love YOU way, way, wayyyy more!”
I can’t express what i felt when he explained his representation of me- there were so many feelings all at once. I did get it. And apparently, contrary to what i’d been shouting just before slamming my bedroom door at least once per day over the previous 6 months, someone in my family got me after all. Someone saw me and while yes, i was a bit weird, it was the kind of weird you make into art when you have a choice between it and Norman Rockwell. The ‘paperweight’ did in fact look alot like both a classic kindy-drawn house and Easter Islands mysterious totems as depicted on Pink Floyd’s Division Bell cover. ‘Too much’** was a common phrase in my parents criticisms about my infatuation period with newly discovered artists and i was floored that my baby bro had taken from it such a flattering assessment of my soul.
Later that night, when my brother brought my parents into my room to show them his art project, Dad picked it up saying it was nice of him to make such a cool paperweight for his big sis. They were definitely surprised by his emphatic response and belabored sigh. “It’s NOT a paperweight. It IS my sister. Music is her home, Dad! Geez.” best.brother.ever I thought as I felt myself smirk with pride at his exasperated 7-year-old tone.
17 years later i still have the notapaperweight, i use it as a sorta bookend / sorta trophy on my music shelf. As I write this i can see it sitting atop Neil Straus’ latest rock’n’roll tome ‘Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead,’ it props up ‘Cobain Unseen’ and my deluxe reissue of ‘SKYwriting’ … looking at it i feel that same smirk slink across my face … because Music IS My Home.
*i vehemently defended all artists whose music i considered sacred against any criticism from senators, media and church (even convincing my republican dad to wear NIN tees with me to our evangelist church during Senator Lot’s attacks). I’m no longer so idealistic that i need to understand and explain the private, personal shortcomings of musicians whose noise appeals to me, but if you’re talking to me, it’s still a good idea to make damn sure that any criticisms you level are accurate and fair, and don’t over-reach. And if you’re just making up nonsense, be prepared to have your credibility torn apart.
**On this they maybe had a point: when people who knew me only briefly from 3rd grade until i started college find me on facebook, etc, they tend to remember me as the girl whose entire world was (insert band/artist here) and so far i’ve never had 2 different people associate me with the same artist, and until college i had exactly two actual faves, as expressed in my unchanging reply to direct inquiries on the matter, # of band tees owned or being the only bands whose non-band-tee merch i bought, and neither has ever been the fill-in-the-blank artist either: before my birth= Beatles & after my birth= Nirvana.