Strange Reactions To Sound

This week I was accidentally introduced to the existence of ASMR. Jamie took a nap on the couch to a space documentary and told me she had awakened to another rather creepy one called “The Repairman 7.” There was nothing all that strange about it except it seemed like a scriptless art film and she couldn’t figure out whether she was still half asleep or not until she turned it off. This I had to see. Well there it was!

Nothing odd, just seemed kind of odd to have made a deliberate video like this. And really odd that the sumbitch had almost a hundred thousand views – a hundred thousand! I lasted a few minutes before looking to the right where similar videos are recommended. Some had over two MILLION. “Look, they all have these letters – that has to be a thing,” I said, “…that means something.” 

Then Jamie remembered hearing a bit about it on the radio. We found it – one of the greatest things ever – pure radio gold. You know, past a point life’s flow of everyday new trickles down a bit. It takes a lot to make me sit back and go “What the… well I’ll be!” Here it is!

This all made me SO happy. Of all the named syndromes and genuinely troublesome reactions one could have to an increasingly fractured and aggressive world where every borderline personality has a keypad and a button to push, here is this situation where people get blissful head tinglies from specific completely benign sounds! Being a big fan of sounds, I find this fantastic. And while I personally don’t get all tingly over whispered descriptions of fake jewelry and the sound of small items being moved around, I’m certainly not mocking anyone who does… because there ARE sounds that make me WAY happier than they probably should, and it’s a whole different thing than the right guitar or bass tone or a great chord progression. Flocks of migrating birds. Chrysler starter whine. The speaking voice of Garrison Keillor. What a bonus package… the sonic world is a fascinating environment and some of us can lose ourselves in it with the thinnest of tethers back into this place. The only time the top of my head tingles is every now and then during a quiet meditative time, but every time I use my aluminum jack stands, I hit them together and hold one up to each ear. It’s… amazing. 

When I was a kid, the rented motorhome turned up a hilly street and its flexing made three noises. Those three tones through my musical life became notes – and appear as both a repeated three note pattern in a few songs and became the basis for chord progressions or melodies in others. I’m involved with this little set of three noises much deeper than most other minds with most other sounds. That’s just one example, and it’s pretty tame... but, believe me, they don’t go to waste. Nice sounds and pleasing sounds to me are a bit different than what that may mean to others. I relate to sound through the full spectrum of my existence, and relate it back to all of that – if that makes sense. Let’s just say I used to be an E minor chord and now I’m a C/G (“C over G”, slipping a G note in as the low note under a C chord) – that’s as far in as I can take you. But when I tell you a Birdsong Fusion bass sounds like chocolate in the lower midrange, just take my word for it.

Yours in good vibration,

Listening to: Everything. Formed into music? This week I’ve been way into Fred McDowell and, in the last couple of days, Merle Haggard. His recordings have accompanied me along the stretches of lonesome highway any journey is going to have, where only a voice soaked in whisky and a simple song can soothe the soul. Rest in peace, sir.