Did anyone else see Anita Baker’s taped down nipple on the E! Grammy pre-show last night?
I get a lot of email asking me why I don’t update my Listening section very often, and I promised myself before I had a baby that I would never use this excuse, but: I had a baby.
Before I became a mother I had an enormous amount of disposable time to seek out new music online, to find free MP3s and make huge playlists with a range of artists and genres. It used to be one of my main and most fulfilling hobbies. But now, now I have a hard time carrying the baby on one hip and the exploding laundry basket on the other hip, let alone sitting at the computer with her in my lap as she pounds the keyboard with her little sausage fingers.
Now I’ll buy an album online, burn it to CD and listen to it exclusively for months at a time usually while driving to and from the grocery store. That sounds extraordinarily sad, I know, but I’ve become quite intimate with a select few CDs in the last year, albums from Stars, Air, PJ Harvey, Interpol, The Arcade Fire, Keane, and yes, U2.
The latest U2 CD is a bit of a disappointment if you compare it to their past releases like War and The Joshua Tree. I burned a hole in my tape of Achtung Baby in high school, and I used to lie on the deck by the above-ground pool in my backyard at night listening to “So Cruel” and yearn thinking, “I wonder what the man I’m going to marry is doing right now?” Little did I know that he was at that time about to marry another woman.
Last night at the Grammys U2 sung their latest single “Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own.” I’ve listened to it a thousand times driving to buy formula or taking Leta to physical therapy. It’s a great song with a powerful chorus that I love to sing out loud while looking at Leta in the rearview mirror. But last night before they started the song Bono dedicated it to his father whom he said was a postal clerk, someone he wished he had gotten to know better. I nearly choked on my shock, the meaning of that song taking on proportions I hadn’t fathomed. When he sang these lyrics in particular I couldn’t stop bawling:
I know that we don’t talk
I’m sick of it all
Can you hear me when I sing,
You’re the reason I sing
You’re the reason why the opera is in me
Jon’s father died when Jon was 21. That was almost 20 years ago. He died of a brain tumor, and during his last months of life Jon stayed by his side even though they had never had the fairy-tale father and son relationship. Just thinking about the loss Jon experienced is hard for me to even type about without crying. I haven’t ever experienced a loss like that. I know I will in my lifetime, and while listening to Bono sing, “And it’s you when I look in the mirror…” I couldn’t help but think about my own father. He is in almost every shape of my face.
A few years ago when my father first read my website we experienced a falling out of sorts. He couldn’t believe that the daughter he had brought up could write certain unsavory things for people to read. He was mostly saddened that I had rejected my religious upbringing, and he asked me repeatedly where he went wrong. Last night I had the overwhelming urge to call him, but it was too late in the evening.
I wanted to tell him that he didn’t go wrong. I may have rejected the Church but he has given me so much more than that. He taught me about honesty and determination and love and humor. He is the most honorable human being I know, and I like to think that I have made it to this point in my life because of what he taught me about relationships and the value of hard work. I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter, a roof above my head, and a love for life that allows me to joke with clerks at the grocery store. He taught me that. He taught me to smile at strangers.
Father, it is you when I look in the mirror. I hope you can hear me when I write.