Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wine and Jazz

I'm a romantic.  But I'm also a cynic.  It's a confusing combination to live with--but not, I imagine, an uncommon one.

I've had a boring day, in which I really did nothing, which just made me tired.  I'm alone at home right now, sitting in my kitchen, sipping on a third glass of wine, which I thought might loosen my nerves.  I just listened to two painfully beautiful ballads:  "Till There Was You" sung by Etta Jones and "The Masquerade is Over" sung by Nancy Wilson.  Perhaps it was the wine, but listening to those two songs just now made me feel good.  I was getting really into how good I felt, and then I caught myself, like I usually do when I enjoy something.

I looked around me: A half-finished bottle of wine and a freshly poured glass on the table; Nancy Wilson filling my ears with her mellifluous voice.  What is this, 1950?  What other 23-year-old male from New Jersey is doing this right now?  I thought.  Then I felt cool:  This could be a movie right now, what I'm doing.  Then self-deprecating:  You think you're cool enough, special enough, to be in a movie?

I looked around me again:  I was sitting in my kitchen, at a brushed stainless steel counter top, with my Sony head phones on, which were plugged into the MacBook playing music from Grooveshark.  Definitely not 1950.

This thought process is not new to me (which leads me to believe it's not primarily due to the wine).  It happens a lot when I listen to jazz.  I care deeply for the music.  I don't listen to it because it might make me cool.  But it does make me feel cool: because I care so much about it and because it can be academic and irreverent and earnest, all at the same time.

Listening to Nancy Wilson tonight, I felt special that I appreciated the beauty of her voice so much.  And then I felt sort of snobby, because I felt special.  To me, enjoying jazz--on one important level--is a sort of perpetual balancing act in which I am constantly reevaluating how I perceive myself in relation to the music and to others who don't listen to it.  It sounds tiring, I know.  Luckily, though, it's worth it.

Does anyone else feel the way I do?  Perhaps at least similarly?  Comments are always appreciated.  (Also, for the Talmudists: Of course, Wilson recorded "The Masquerade Is Over" with Cannonball Adderley in 1961, but I hope you saw what I was getting at.)