What Would Jesus Listen To?

Jesus-with-HeadphonesLent is a solemn religious observance of the forty days leading up to Easter, marked by (among other things) self-denial.  I gave up listening to music.  My hypothesis was that less listening would lead to more making.  That has not been the case.  The opposite may even be true.  I attempted to go about my days in silence when I could; no music at work, at home, or in the car. How dreadfully monotonous that was!

Here I’ve broken up music listening into three categories based on levels of engagement: 1) Background listening does not demand much engagement because it only fills the silence while other things are happening. 2) Intentional listening is the complete engagement in the music. 3) Participatory listening is the engagement in participating in the music, usually dancing or singing along.

Background listening  can be a distraction.  If I’m focused on a task and shift to listening for a moment, I may not get back to what I was working on right away.  Music may just add to the noise in already noisy environment as well.

Intentional listening can be a waste of time.  There are other things I could be getting done instead, namely writing music.  Relaxing with a pair of headphone on the couch is a reward for getting work done.  I’ll let myself listen when I’m finished with my never-ending to-do list. Also, why would I listen to music if I could play it?  That should be motivating.

Participatory listening didn’t really factor into my self-denial. I still sang, danced, and enjoyed concerts.  This is only a small fraction of my time, though, and has more positive benefits than negative consequences.

Giving up listening to music has been challenging!  Sometimes I need a musical distraction.  Please, shift my focus from this negative thought or stressful day.  Just boost my mood and get my blood flowing a bit.  Also, it’s  probably good for a musician to really immerse himself into listening — noticing new things about a favorite song and further inspiring creation.  Participatory listening could be encouraged — remember why music is fun.

I’ve allowed myself an exception: I can listen to new music to write about it here.  This limited background music is back in my home.  I’ve even discovered a good album for some intentional listening and a review.  And giving up music hasn’t all been bad.  I read a lot more of the articles I’ve saved and got back into the podcasts I’ve neglected.  After Easter, I’ll just have to pay attention to when I’m getting distracted and try not to procrastinate by listening to music. I’ll seek out more participatory listening opportunities, too, like playing music with others.

Finally, what would Jesus listen to?  Even though that’s the title of this post, it has not been the subject.  It’s catchy and I like the picture, okay?  It is an interesting question, though.  My impression is that Jesus was a participatory listener.  I’ve written plenty already, so you can ponder that and let me know what you think. Let me know what you gave up for Lent as well, if anything.


Dead Corner Protest

With interests in urban planning & music, I want to organize a big busking event on dead corners to get passerby ideas for better uses.

City Center Parking Lot
City Center Parking Lot at 5th Avenue and Main Street

Street intersections are places where people can cross paths and come together as potential hubs of activity.  Unfortunately, most activity at intersections is between automobiles.  Even more unfortunate is when the uses at the corners serve cars instead of people — becoming parking lots or billboard stands.

La Crosse is fortunate to have a pretty decent downtown.  However, most intersections have at least one dead corner, whether due to parking or not being open past 5 PM or weekends.  Wouldn’t it be great if those places came alive with musical performances?

I think so.  Having buskers set up all over downtown would be a sight, if only for an hour or so.  To get more public interest in invigorating these corners, performers can have a big poster or even written on the sidewalk with chalk. Phrases like “This [parking/vacant] lot could be …” or “Here could be…” or “It would be great if this place was open …” can prompt passersby to share their ideas.

While calling this Dead Corner Protest sounds more punk rock, I’d rather call it something positive like Live Lot Project  or Feedback Corners.  I’d also include a cleanup aspect to show that we care about these places.  Interested performers can contact me.

Top 7 Favorite Christmas Songs

my-presence-is-your-presentYesterday, snow fell lightly all day, making it possible to slide on the sidewalks in a sort of cross-country skiing way.  Across the street, lights illuminate a Christmas tree in the window.  It’s 16 days before from Christmas.  Some radio stations have switched over to playing all Christmas music, so I turned the dial from the usual classical music to get in on the spirit.  Most of the songs are good and almost all of them I know; some versions are better than others, but the crooners are hard to beat.  Here are the Christmas songs I want to hear:

  1. Let it Snow
  2. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
  3. Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  4. White Christmas
  5. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
  6. Walking in a Winter Wonderland
  7. Sleigh Ride

What are your favorites? Do you know which of these songs don’t even mention Christmas?