Friday, June 24, 2005

When the Music's over, Turn out the Lights

I'm an audiophile. That doesn't mean that I'm an expert on the subject; it just means that I love music. It's been an integral part of my life forever and every memory that I have of a certain time period or event or person can be easily summoned by a sound clip of a particular song.

Although I enjoy all kinds of sounds from folk to jazz to hip-hop, my favorite is rock. And, I must confess that I have a bad case of arrested development in my musical tastes. I just bought tickets to see Simple Plan at the Ottawa Bluesfest. Actually, "see" may be a poor verb choice because chances are that I won't get anywhere near the band in order to see them, but I'm sure that I'll be able to hear them a mile away!

In D'Amour Road, I've attributed my musical tastes to younger people like the hot 24-year-old guy that 39-year-old Tara Richards likes or to Tara's 14-year-old son, Devon. Alain, the 24-year-old, loves Pearl Jam, Sam Roberts, Coldplay and Wheatus. Devon is a consummate rapper and a big fan of Eminem's.

I'm certain that I'm the only person who has ever mentioned Eminem in a book on total hip replacements, and I spent an ample amount of time talking about him in D'Amour Road, too. That's because I'm a feminist and I love Eminem. Sounds like an oxymoron or a contradiction, but the way that I view it is that firstly, Eminem is extremely talented. If we were to remove the lyrics from his songs, I would still love the rhythm. Of course, I would never want to remove the lyrics because that's where Marshall's real brilliance lies -- he is the most amazing rhymer that I've ever heard.

Secondly, I feel for him. Now before you get out your virtual pencil and start sending me hate mail, reminding me that Marshall Mathers is an egocentric, misogynistic homophobe, I will beat you to the punch. I know that. But what makes Eminem's rants about his wife and his mother so intriguing is that it's obvious that he was traumatized by his mother's manipulation, controlling nature, negligence and emotional abuse. Since I've been an advocate for women for years and have been active in the battle to fight sexism, domestic violence and child molestation, I had to ask myself, "Is it right for me to sympathize with women who've been abused as children but to turn my back on men who've experienced a similar plight?"

Yes, Marshall is hostile towards women but is this any different from women who have been raped or harmed and consequently fear or hate men? Unfortunately, many pedophiles and men who become rapists have been abused as children. That's another complicated issue that I address later on in D'Amour Road when I deal with the character of Ryan, the partner of the woman who goes missing. It's so easy for us to feel for men who were hurt when they were kids yet all that compassion disappears in a flash the minute they turn from victim to victimizer.

At any rate, it's been interesting to watch Marshall mature over the years. After all the screaming that he did about Kim, the wife who wronged him, he not only got back together with her but also willingly parented a child that she had fathered by another man. Marshall's rage? Fueled by pain, angst, humiliation, jealousy, deja vu back to Mommy, and the anguish that goes along with having someone you love betray you.

Recently, my 15-year-old neighbor and I were shooting the breeze on the driveway. I asked him what kind of music he liked and he said "oldies".

"Oh, you mean stuff from the 90s?" I retorted, in my usual sardonic manner.

"No! Led Zeppelin," he replied.

I led the boy down to my basement where I had about 200 old albums including five by Zeppelin, 10 by Hendrix and an original by the Sex Pistols. He and his little friend left an hour later carrying a big box of about 50 albums! I was so happy that the 15-year-old and I had found a common ground.

Music unites, exalts, provokes, and stamps an indelible mark on certain occasions. It's one of the few things in life that brings pure joy whether you prefer opera or punk. When the music's over, you can surely turn out my lights :-)

Sigrid Macdonald

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