Music to Me is Like Days
Once played to attentive faces
music has broken its frame
its bodice of always-weak laces
the entirely promiscuous art
pours out in public spaces
accompanying everything, the selections
of sex and war, the rejections.
To jeans-wearers in zipped sporrans
it transmits an ideal body
continuously as theirs age. Warrens
of plastic tiles and mesh throats
dispense this aural money
this sleek accountancy of notes
deep feeling adrift from its feelers
thought that means everything at once
like a shrugging of cream shoulders
like paintings hung on park mesh
sonore doom soneer illy chesh
they lost the off switch in my lifetime
the world reverberates with Muzak
and Prozac. As it doesn’t with poe-zac
(I did meet a Miss Universe named Verstak).
Music to me is like days
I rarely catch who composed them
if one’s sublime I think God
my life-signs suspend. I nod
it’s like both Stilton and cure
from one harpsichord-hum:
then I miss the Köchel number.
I scarcely know whose performance
of a limpid autumn noon is superior
I gather timbre outranks rhumba.
I often can’t tell days apart
they are the consumers, not me
in my head collectables decay
I’ve half-heard every piece of music
the glorious big one with voice
the gleaming instrumental one, so choice
the hypnotic one like weed-smoke at a party
and the muscular one out of farty
cars that goes Whudda Whudda
Whudda like the compound oil heart
of a warrior not of this planet.
Australian Les Murray gets at how ubiquitous music is now, you can listen to Bach’s B-Minor Mass while you shave, or cue up Les Troyens, a piece Berlioz was never able to hear performed in his lifetime, while you drive to beach. No doubt a mixed blessing. Something haunting about that line of Murray’s “they lost the off switch in my lifetime.” Not just on Muzak, either.