You're probably going to call me a bastard. That's okay. I've been called it before. I'll be called it again. I've deserved it before. No doubt, I will deserve it again. But sometimes it's worth it.
Last Sunday, of course, was Mother's Day, so, of course, I bought a gift for the mother of my children. Mother's Day is an interesting holiday. It's not really a romantic holiday, even though without sex there would be no purpose to the day, but I suppose that is true of birthdays, as well as a number of other things. So the right gift is key. It isn't easy, like Father's Day, where all you have to buy is a tie or a shovel and good ol' dad is probably set.
And, of course, Mother's Day comes first so you can't buy a "reactive" gift; you have to set the tone, even knowing full well that by the time June rolls around and it's time for Dad, everybody's kind of tired of the celebrating thing. It's no accident that Mother's Day is the biggest restaurant day of the year; Father's Day is a chance for Dad to try out those new grilling utensils he received as a gift by cooking for the family on his day. Go figure.
But I digress. So, the Mother's Day gift has to be special, but not too romantic, something that kind of feels like it's from Hubby, but represents the children somehow, too. A worshipful family gift, if you will.
On the Friday night before, I bought her a Nightfall t-shirt (our free, downtown summer concert series), which is all she claimed she wanted, but that really doesn't meet any of the criteria just mentioned (as in, not the least bit romantic and not really from the family). And even though I spent two days cooking a special meal for her (while she was gone visiting her mother), I knew I had to represent.
So I bought her Spotify.
Spotify, you say? The music-access site/app? Yep, that's the one. The one that gives you the ability to play almost any song or band that you can think of. Except for the Beatles and Jimmy Buffet, so far. And, yes, I know it's free if you want to wade through the commericials, but I didn't want her to (plus it wouldn't have been much of a gift).
Now, here's what else played into my thinking. My wife can use it whenever she wants. But I can use it, too. And so can my daughter. So there's the family part, though you're probably thinking, he bought that gift for himself, the bastard. I'll take the Fifth on that.
Because here's the funny thing: Spotify is a very romantic gift, at least for the right person in the circumstances. We tend to forget that there is nothing more romantic than nostalgia. Suddenly, at our command, sitting at the kitchen table, was any song from any time period that ever meant anything to us, either together or individually.
So she played "Show and Tell" by Al Wilson and "Love The One You're With" by Stephen Stills and "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge. She went on a Guess Who tear and added "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" and "American Woman." I countered with some 60's favorites of my own--"Midnight Confessions" by the Grassroots and "Groovy Situation" by Gene Chandler, a little other soul, "Cool Jerk." We heard Archie Bell and the Drells. Some songs didn't work: "Me and You and A Dog Named Blue" didn't hold up. Creedence makes my wife sad. Like the Doors do. She went late Elvis with "Kentucky Rain" and I played her some of Let It Bleed, which she had never heard.
My children ultimately left in frustration. Their mother's over-the-top approach to music is something they have railed against for years. She gets to singing and dancing and everything. The last thing they expected was that I would join in. But I did. We were both lost in a musical world that began over 45 years ago, had existed at least 22 years before them, and that they had no context for, even if they knew the songs. They had nothing to counter the power of the past.
And that is the power of Spotify. Much as I've struggled with the shift from "owning" music to storing music or "leasing" music, a circumstance I still can't quite come to terms with, the ability to sit at a table and to think of most any song that had ever meant anything (as I write this, I'm listening to Yessongs, the live Yes 3-album set from 1973)and then to be able to call it up seems like conjuring, like alchemy of the highest order. Who wants gold when he or she can restore the soundtrack of his or her youth by typing a few keys?
I realize that this is but one aspect of Spotify, the default postion we went to immediately. Later, my wife realized that she now had access to the greatest operatic performances in recorded history, another side to her musical passions. I'm so overwhelmed, I can't play with it with any kind of coherence at all. So far, I've gone from Norah Jones' very, very recent CD to the off-tracks I've always wanted to hear from The Essential Bruce Springsteen to the aforementioned Yes, the cornerstone of my prog-rock years. But there will be much more. After all, time is money, er...music.
And, for the record, my wife pronounced that it was the greatest gift ever. But then, she is like that.