Running up, over and through the cogs

Running with a Mind Full of Bach

bach with shadesI still belong to one of those good old fashioned email listservs.  It’s one that I have been a part of for a long time now — one I look forward to every afternoon; but at the same time it sort of stresses me out.  It stresses me out on a very superficial level, I admit, but still, stress is stress.

To be more accurate, this daily email often overwhelms me more than anything, as it generally features 20-40 individual links to the hottest news stories of the day.  These often include fascinating scientific breakthroughs, underground and outside mainstream opinion pieces and lots and lots of pictures of cats.  Rarely am I able to read/view every single one of them.  There just isn’t enough time!

Take the above alongside my afternoon dose of front-to-back Chicago Tribune reading, a neverending stream of Google Reader aggregated posts from my 100+ favorite blogs and the bevy of Facebook/Twitter feed links and articles being thrown my way every two seconds and I find myself actively vetting my reading material based on how sexy a URL may read.

There is just too much information out there — information I think I want! — attacking me via my laptop, my desktop, my phone, my other laptop and my BRAIN!  If I’m not careful, I become Fred Armisen, trapped in a technology loop:

Sometimes I get trapped in there, for very long, uncomfortable periods of time.

Running is the antidote.

Of course, I can’t always be running, or exercising for that matter.

Enter Johann Sebastian Bach.

I have long been acquainted with the works of Bach.  In high school and college I often cursed his named, wondering if he had ever even bothered to try singing one of his own tenor fugue creations.  People have to breathe, y’know.  Singers really need to breathe.

But sadly, my appreciation for his music never matured beyond the basic acknowledgement of his reinterpretation of what music could and should be.  I knew all the greats (Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, etc) looked to him as the godfather of melody — that the foundation for the classical explosion was rooted in the Bach catalogue, but that was about it, and I never bothered to appreciate any of it.

More than a decade later, while circumventing the technology loop with a playlist full of Lady Gaga, Die Antwoord and Modeselektor, body and mind ready to explode from information overload, I stumbled across this:

Instantly, I was at peace.

And I was just getting started.

The last few months have been a joyous trip through the ever uplifting works of J.S. Bach.  From violin concertos to piano sonatas, to choral masses, organ fugues and everything in between, I have become a bonafide believer in the beautiful bounty of Bach.

And the very best part?

Now I am running to Bach.

Not with headphones.  I don’t run with music.  I don’t have to, because Bach is in my head.  It is always there and I am always elated!  No more I’m Henry the Eighth I Am poisoning my psyche.  No more Cotton Eyed Joe, no more Hey Mickey, no more Blue da ba de da ba die stuck on autoloop for miles and miles and miles.

No, sir.

Thanks to the musical genius of J.S. Bach, I am free.  Free at last!


10 responses

  1. hey really like this! you are so right about info overload in the age of FB, Twitter, Blogging, etc…Classical music like this is so pure and soothing. my parents brought me up on this stuff. i took classical guitar lessons for 11 years as a child, and I’m now working on turning it into a career as a singer/songwriter. I actually just started a video blog discussing various aspects of the new music world/creative process. your points really resonated with me—i’m looking at discussing how our culture is changing based on technology and what that means for creative artists and art consumers.
    great post. well-written too. thank you!

    February 14, 2013 at 15:52

    • Thanks for the comment and read! I think society has already felt the effects of the technocracy. Empathy seems to be one major thing I notice has deteriorated, especially among the younger generation. Very interested to see where we go into the future and how we will (or will not) adapt.

      February 14, 2013 at 16:18

  2. Dan

    I know the feeling. The other day I bought a new album by a band called Long Distance Calling. Five of the six tracks are all instrumental and multi-part crescendos, so it’s worth sitting completely free of distractions and listening to it. So I sat down with headphones, closed all web browsers, closed my eyes, and gave it a spin.

    I felt weird.

    I used to do this all the time. But suddenly, listening to music while NOT multi-tasking and checking email and swiping through apps on my phone and catching up on news and watching slow-motion YouTube videos, I felt downright silly. It was actually a very disturbing feeling because I felt like I too had become part of a sad trend:

    Music has no more intrinsic value to anyone. It’s just something we have in the background to get us through something, be it cleaning house, running or working. Spotify has made it so music is literally worthless (as far as paying money goes), concerts are just an excuse for people to Instragram and share the experience, and music itself has become so ADD that any sort of reasoned, dedicated listen is impossible to achieve.

    (Which is why it still shocks me that “Somebody That I Used To Know” became such a hit)

    Anyway, I managed to get over myself and ended up loving the album. Still though, it’s not a good direction in which our brains are headed, constantly bombarded by stimulus so that quiet contemplation is slowly disappearing as a routine activity.

    February 14, 2013 at 15:57

    • Ah ha! I see what you did there, Dan! Tried to get Gotye stuck in my head, eh? Never fear, the Well Tempered Clavier is here! 🙂

      February 14, 2013 at 16:19

  3. Kirsten Pieper

    My parents brought me up on a steady diet of classical and opera music (I am named after an opera singer who also happened to be Hitler’s mistress, but that is beside the point). No other music could be played in “public areas,” and when the ‘rents were listening, we children had to be seen and not heard. This treatment soured me to classical music for decades. I am just now learning, often by accident, what absolute peace classical music can bring me. (Haven’t yet come round to opera though.) Never thought of running to it, though. Will have to try that! (And yes, I run without headphones.)

    February 14, 2013 at 21:53

    • Glad you were able to come back around to classical, Kirsten. If you’re looking to get into opera, I always recommend Falstaff. It’s hilarious, decadent and insane (most operas are).

      February 18, 2013 at 12:08

  4. That’s awesome, Jeff! The kids and I actually just saw Sabatian Bach in concert a couple of weeks ago:
    Oh, wait, we saw the lead singer of Skid Row, Bach. At least he did Youth Gone Wild, I Remember You, and 18 and Life! I hate to give you even more to read…but there are now two new Fox Sports Detroit Girls…TWO:
    Take care, Jeff!

    February 15, 2013 at 04:10

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