I’ve been listening to jazz lately. I’m not sure why- I’ve always been one who loved going through lists. This past year I listened through the entire Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Albums of All Time. It was a music history lesson that I didn’t know I needed. Lots of Dylan, Beatles and more Dylan. I fell in love with new artists I’d never known, and put some names with songs I’d heard before as a child but never truly knew the origins of.
The past two years have been a pretty wild ride for me, and I found myself longing for the girl I was before my diagnosis. Anything I could do to ground myself, to remind myself that I was bigger than this, that it wasn’t me, but I was something before it, and would be something after, helped. So I turned to lists. I cannot get enough information, experiences, knowledge, I’m a 7 after all- it’s a sickness really. When I picture myself, it’s like I’m just a giant Pac Man consuming the world. Every moment, every smell, taste, sound, touch, memory, new experience, I can’t ever get enough. I will never be satisfied.
Sometimes when I don’t know where to turn, lists help me make some sort of logical progression in a direction. It helps me collect the knowledge in some focused way, and not the spastic and sporadic way I probably would on my own. Plus, it gives me a sense of accomplishment, and as I mentioned, it grounds me.
So recently I started listening through the “100 Essential Jazz Albums” as dubbed by New Yorker Magazine. I don’t know why, but I am falling head over heels for jazz. It’s like jazz was just waiting there all this time for me, just patiently standing by until I was ready for it. And I am now. I love that it’s classic, it’s been there for so long. It doesn’t need anyone to justify it. It has emotion, but no words. It has nuance and complexity, something that I seem to feel is lacking anymore. Jazz isn’t asking for your approval- it doesn’t give a shit if you hit the “like” button. It was here before me and it will be here after I’m gone. It just is.
And that is what I like about it. I picture scenes when I listen to it- people dancing and sweating in an old hall, letting loose, shaking off the cares of life, cares that I am now much more familiar with than I was even a few years ago. All this time I thought people were making music because they wanted to simply celebrate life, and now I realize that music is the escape. Jazz feels that way. It isn’t vapid, it isn’t prepubescent. It’s seen some things. And it’s still here to get down, because life is short so why not. It’s like a big fat middle finger to life’s disappointments and tragedies, big and small. It revels in the eccentric, the experimental, the free, the impulse. It is all at once a reminder, and a revelation.