Homeward Bound

Listening on the East Coast

There was no This Week in Sound email July 21 because I’d returned shortly after 1:00am Sunday from a 16-day trip to New York to visit family, mostly on Long Island, where I’m from, and also upstate for a brief spell. It was a family-first trip (that’s me speaking to friends who read this and wonder why I didn’t get in touch), but I did manage one very hot day in Manhattan, getting to the Whitney Biennial and a few neighboring art galleries. More on all that if time allows in the coming week.

Happiness, I will note, is overhearing your mid-octogenarian father on the phone explaining/translating your interest in sound to a friend and, in the midst of this attempted explication, the microwave beeps throatily, and then having just tried to clarify why sound is an important topic, he has to explain to his friend what that beeping noise just now was.

I left Brooklyn for California in 1989, a year out of college, to work at Tower Records’ home office in West Sacramento, where I was an editor on its music magazines. Whenever I go back to visit New York, I count the minutes after arrival until I hear either Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen, and then I note which I heard first. I heard each of them just once on this lengthy recent trip, and the Springsteen occurrence barely counts. His tunes appeared in the trailer for the upcoming movie Blinded by the Light (which seems to have been green-lit so people could write think pieces about it and Danny Boyle’s Yesterday); it showed before the screening I caught of Spider-Man: Far From Home. As for Billy Joel, I heard him in between tracks from Yes and the Decemberists at a Mexican restaurant at JFK just before I flew home to San Francisco. And in fact, I heard San Francisco’s own Journey, Huey Lewis, Metallica, and Santana on this trip before I heard either Billy Joel or Bruce Springsteen. Being that I was visiting from San Francisco, it was as if real life were acting like a hyper-personal Spotify algorithm.

This is lightly adapted from an edition first published in the July 28, 2019, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *