A Lonely Road

Last night my fiance and I were sitting together listening to music from the first half of the 20th century (music hall, Swing, Foxtrot, and ballads from about 1900 to 1950).

At one point I played a slow foxtrot song from 1939- a year I still have strong feelings for (I would have been about 10 at the time, and deep into science fiction magazines and pulp adventure novels). I asked him how he felt when he heard it and he responded that he felt nothing.

I then played a song from 1929, hoping an earlier piece might resonate more with him. He replied that while he enjoyed the song, it wasn’t any specific feeling and that the only music that had specific feelings for him was the music he grew up with (mostly early 70s prog and 90s alternative).  For him, the music of the first half of the 20th century is a rare import from a distant past, an exotic acquired taste; for me, it’s a rare shred of something I once had.

It just reminded me of how weird I was. Every time growing up I heard a music hall piece from Edwardian times and wondered “When was this made? It sounds so familiar, why?” or every time I saw that same bare upstairs room with a single bed, a table, a record player, and a bare lightbulb when I heard music from the 1940s, I was experiencing something not everyone goes through and I feel like such a weirdo.

Stranger still, I have a weird feeling that my fiance might have been my first wife, Jeanette Marlin, back in 1948 (an old photo of him without his beard looks bizarrely similar to a photo of her from high school). But if he was, he has no memories. For him, the slate seems to be wiped clean, though he does give me the benefit of the doubt.


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