I’ve always been a big fan of music. Sometimes bordering on obsession. When I was younger, all I wanted to do was sing. I still love to sing, but it’s something I do for me now rather than for an audience. This isn’t about that though, this is about listening.
My mom used to listen to Top 40 radio in the early 80s, between that and the birth of MTV, I fell in love with true “pop” music. I still have her tapes of songs with Casey Kasem from Sunday mornings (being a Sunday morning where retro is “in”, I’m currently listening to a replay of Casey streaming on a local radio station while I write this). Since my hearing loss, I’ve really revisited the songs from my childhood, partially because of nostalgia and how much I loved them, but more because of auditory memory – it is so much easier to listen to something that my brain remembers from my hearing days than learning to hear something new with my current hearing.
There are a few artists, such as Idina Menzel or Debbie Gibson or Dennis DeYoung, where I will pick up absolutely anything they do and try my best to learn it. I really need lyrics to help me understand the song and follow along, but if I can get my hands on sheet music, even better. I have enough musical training from my younger days that I can visualize what something is supposed to sound like if I can see the sheet music. Recently I picked up a couple of actual CDs (instead of just downloading) because when we bought our house, the previous owners left us a really nice stereo, which I haven’t had in years. I remember in the mid-2000s when I would get a new CD, I would lay down on the floor under the speaker and let the sound flow down to me. So I did that with the new Tiffany CD, and I learned that while the music was absolutely beautiful and exactly the type of song I love and want to sing along with, I still could not understand the words.
That was a couple of months ago. As it turns out, Tiffany was going to perform in a super small venue nearby. I bought 2nd row tickets and started listening to that CD non-stop. I was able to pick out phrases here and there, but still can’t put together even a complete chorus. Well, my friend Tony (also with a hearing loss) and I went to go see her and what I learned was that the music still makes me FEEL even if I can’t understand. It was a great, intimate, acoustic show that blew my mind, and I highly recommend seeing her if she comes near you.
I’m grateful to have the sense of musicality that I do, but I still wish I could sing along and grasp the lyrics, because I have a feeling they are incredible. So I reached out on Twitter and there is a fellow 80s fan who is going to transcribe the lyrics for me! I’m so excited that I’ll be able to use this CD as part of my music rehab now that I’ll have the lyrics.
That was Thursday night. On Friday night, Ed and I went to The Cabaret to see Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp (from Rent – I’m also a huge musical theatre fan). We’ve been to a lot of shows in this venue, and it’s also very small and intimate. This time was different for some reason, I don’t know if it was that we had different seats that usual, or that I remember their voices so well from prior to my hearing loss, but I was able to understand a lot of both when they were talking and full phrases of when they were singing – even songs I didn’t know!
It was mostly coincidence that these concerts happened this week, but I’m using them to mark the moment of the end of an era. On Wednesday, the way I hear is going to change completely, and I don’t know when the next time I’ll be able to listen to music and really feel and appreciate it will be. It will take some time, I’m sure, but I’m also sure I will get there again – and I hope it will end up being even better and a more rich experience than it is now.
And again, in looking through my journal of my original hearing loss, I find that I wrote something very similar to all of this. From October 16, 2001:
I will sing again, and I will enjoy music again.
I recognize that things are different, but I can adjust.
One way or another, I will be able to enjoy such wonderful things.