Music

One of the more fascinating, if unsettling, things about a neurodegenerative disease is how parts of your personality slip away unnoticed as synapses wilt and whole brains parts shrivel. These past several years music slowly stopped being a vital part of my life. I find myself going days, even weeks, without listening to it except in a car. I have a huge collection of recordings–vinyl, cassette, CD, digital–I barely touch anymore. I fear I could sell them all and miss only the mementos. And I scarcely ever write about music anymore. There was a time I did so fanatically. That time has gone. Somewhere in my head, in the temporal lobe or frontal lobe or both, enough neurons have been singed to make music less important to me than, say, books or old movies. I love the music people and I love the excitement of skilled improvisation, but very little else moves me anymore like it once did. I thought a couple years ago that maybe it was just a spell, maybe being a jazz critic had burned me out, but no. It’s permanent. I still love music, but it’s no longer essential. I still hear it all the time, tunes going through my head, but somehow the emotional connection has faded. Like it’s still up in my frontal lobe, intellectually, but the feel and soul of it in my temporal lobe has shriveled away with my bruised and battered hippocampus. I wish this bothered me more, but it doesn’t. Still, I wonder with a chill what, in ten years time, will also have faded away in significance.

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