(Originally published on The Nervous Breakdown.)
My boyfriend and I were driving home from the movies the other night. Which movie is not the point, but for the sake of setting the mood, it was a comedy and we laughed and we laughed.
The point is he’s got satellite radio in his car and he was flipping around to find something decent for us to listen to.
We tend toward a channel called Deep Tracks (AKA excuse to play understandably forgotten Emerson, Lake, and Palmer tunes) or Top Tracks (AKA excuse to play “Won’t Get Fooled Again” again, but with the benefit of really crisp acoustics.)
One can also find some decent comedy from time to time. And a hardcore rap show hosted by Ludacris. He and his partner swear and everything. We never listen to indie rock on satellite. I don’t know why.
Sometimes Mark turns to Hank’s Place, a channel that usually plays fine and classic country tunes. This time around, we found ourselves in the midst of a ditty with lyrics about getting old, and likening the aging dilemma to having the value of a precious, antique violin.
For reason that are probably apparent, Mark kept hitting the satellite radio remote, scrolling through our many other options to see what else we might find.
We came upon a jazz channel called High Standards.
Tony Bennett was singing.
I’m sorry to say that the name of the song he was singing now escapes me. Whatever the song was, it was quite good and not one I was familiar with.
A factoid emerged from my brain.
Tony Bennett is known to have been a fan of the marijuana. He went so far as to document it in his autobiography. Apparently it became a problem, but I prefer to think of him as a groovy velvety-smooth-voiced, cannabis-smoking man who lit up way before it became associated with hippies and lazy people. His whole crowd probably did it. You know the jazzbos — they were cutting edge, did dark things on the down low.
Anyway, I’m listening to Tony Bennett and I start thinking about his digging grass and it suddenly hits me, “Damn, I bet it would be really cool to get high to Tony Bennett.”
I don’t get high anymore.
I have an unfortunately sensitive disposition. Afflicted with a tendency for over-thinking, and the old cliche of fear and loathing whilst under the influence of most artificial substances (though thankfully not sugar or wine), I had to stop all forms of partaking in my early-20s.
I was instantaneously saddened at the thought that, in all likelihood, I would never smoke a joint, or load a pipe — fashioned from a Coke can or otherwise — with marijuana and have the experience enhanced by the dulcet sound of Tony Bennett’s voice.
My single-minded concentration on hard rock during my most prolific and potent smoking years started to seem really short-sighted. Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin both opened and blew my mind for sure. But clearly not enough. Not enough for Tony Bennett to enter my consciousness.
I considered that if my grandmother had played a more influential role in my life during my teenagehood, perhaps then I might have had my time with Tony Bennett. Or, conversely, ridden a real bummer in the form of the soundtrack to YentyI thought about the people I know who still smoke. And how the world was still their oyster. As it applied to the possibility of hearing Tony Bennett while altered.
I thought about my dad and how he surely listed to Tony Bennett. While drinking. Which is different. If my dad had ever smoked, I imagine he would have put on The Band or Leon Redbone.
Then I wondered what my mother might put on while she was smoking.
It felt like I was onto a new smoking game. “What Would So-And-So Listen To?”
Thinking about all the fun I was most likely never going to have made me tired.
Songs with the word “tired” came into my head.
I thought of The Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting.”
And of The Beatles’ “I’m So Tired.”
Current artists didn’t seem to be writing songs about being tired. Or they didn’t seem to be writing songs that will stand the test of time about being tired. Maybe it has something to do with ecstasy and cocaine.
Getting high makes you tired.
I often have bouts of insomnia.
Getting high to Tony Bennett and then falling asleep sounded like heaven.
I wished that could be my plan.
It occurred to me that my desire to get high to Tony Bennett represented something else. A desire to be carefree. Relaxed. Spontaneous. Unafraid. All worthy aims. All goals I’ve been working on from different angles.
They say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line…
Anyway, satellite radio has some real hidden gems. I highly recommend it.