Written by Gina Conti
Most kids my age were in Panama City Beach getting sunburned. I was on my way home from Madison. I was burned out.
It was that time of the year, the third quarter slump. Everyone reaches that point, right? Everyone in the Midwest at least. The snow has melted but the sun is still trying to shine through the gray blanket that has replaced the sky over the past five months. Your patience is dwindling fast as your routine drags. Those little meaningless conversations in the stairwell are a little more intolerable. And everyone's sudden obsession with spring-cleaning leaves you feeling like you're weighed down with the junk that has accumulated throughout winter. Everything and everyone has become boring. Yes, even some of Bruce's best music.
Whenever I write these posts, I feel like I throw a line in that just puts off even a halfway fan of Bruce Springsteen enough to discontinue reading. "Why is this girl writing a Bruce Springsteen blog if she finds him boring? Her words -- not mine!" That's where I was though as I was driving home with my brother, rolling my eyes as he told me of his newest superfluous purchase. My words. Not his.
We did not need a record player. There was no need for a record player when we had more iPod docks than any sane family should. My father has made sure that we never have to be in silence if we don't want to. A record player was obsolete. I continued to explain this to him as we pulled into our driveway, and as we unpacked, and as he proceeded to set up the newest addition to the sound system.
He was steadfast in his reasoning, as older brothers usually are. My father's incredible collection of albums, of which I had no knowledge, was collecting dust in the basement. My brother claimed that music was intended to be heard through this medium. Painstaking effort went into mixing tracks and arranging the order that they'd be heard. This was the unknown price I was paying for the shallow sound and shuffle of my iPod.
It wasn't his words that finally convinced me. It was the music. A song that I had heard thousands of times seemed richer and deeper than I had ever heard it before; it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. Instruments that were lost in the tininess of my little white headphones suddenly captured my attention. Seconds later, I was blowing the dust off the black and white sleeve. We dropped the needle, and "Born to Run" filled the house. Had this song came on the shuffle hours earlier during our drive home, I would have skipped it. But in that moment, I experienced the rebirth of Springsteen that I needed. The one that reminded me that simply because his music was classic, didn't mean it had to be heard the same way every time. You don't always have to play air-guitar; you can play air-glockenspiel, instead. That's not only a description of my first night of Spring Break, but the beauty of the wall of sound, and of life. There's always another instrument to get lost in. We just need to remember it's there and find a way to hear it.
Gina Conti is a freshman at UW who grew up outside Chicago. She describes herself as "a realistic optimist who enjoys having an older brother and trying to figure out what her major should be."