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Friday, September 24, 2021

Column: Tayloring our music

All right, I’ll admit it. This past weekend, I not only had “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift replaying on my iPod, but I also had it on my laptop while simultaneously replaying the music video on YouTube. (Okay, that might have been TMI, but seriously, it’s a cute video). If I weren’t so lazy about uploading songs to my cell phone, then trust me, it would’ve been replaying on there, too.

I mean, it’s one thing to say I had something “legit and old school” playing on repeat like Tom Petty (well, actually, I don’t know about that), but Taylor Swift? Really?

So halfway through my listening (that would have been approximately the 1,005th time), I paused and thought:

“Uhh, why in the world is this song on repeat?” (And yes, I also Tweeted that question immediately after).

Being the self-proclaimed “deep-thinking philosopher” (white beard and ponderous pose included) that I am, I immediately wondered if it was because there’s something in my mind that I’m trying to ignore.

It was like having two little Tiffs, each sitting on one of my shoulders and going at each other.

“Yeah, Tiff, whatcha have to hide, huh?” the first one says. “Are you trying to block your thoughts out, or is it because you feel the same way as Taylor?”

“Well, hmm … it’s just a catchy song,” the other replies. “It’s easy to bop my head to it while finishing this freakin’ English paper.”

So basically the moment I started imaging myself as two halves, I ripped out my ear buds and pondered about being:

1) Delusional, psychotic and/or schizophrenic, or …

2) In denial of my thoughts of some sort.

After all, without music blasting through my ear buds and hypnotic lyrics repeating through my head, it’s just my thoughts and me. It’s a strip down to everything internal – just you and your thoughts flowing freely with no distracters.

And if you really think about it, don’t we listen to music because in one form or another, we want escape?

It’s easy to say you only pop your ear buds in when you walk by the organizations lined up in front of the MU, or when you’re riding the bus home after a difficult day of midterms.

But ultimately, underneath all these “reasons” is the underlying fact that we blast our music to escape – to escape the pushy club leaders by the MU, to be relieved of the chatter on a Unitrans bus after a long day, and to be freed of the frustrating thoughts we encounter when it’s just us and our thoughts in a silent room. (Can I be any more dramatic? But seriously, silent rooms can be the most uncomfortable things ever).

Of course, it’s so much easier to just block it all out with music – block out annoying roommates, or emo thoughts of how that cute guy is who just doesn’t notice you.

Who really wants to sit silently and recount a day of a failed midterm or relationship? Popping in that ear bud is just so much easier. One click and all thoughts are pushed aside. Press repeat, and the thoughts may subside for hours straight.

But when we choose to refuse our thoughts or avoid actions through the use of an iPod, we aren’t really listening to our problems. That’s because, well, we’re so preoccupied with worries about how “she wears short skirts while I wear t-shirts.” We still aren’t asking that girl or guy out no matter how much we listen to Taylor Swift, or noticing how “enlightening” those club members outside the MU can actually be (not that I would know, since I somehow find myself “listening” to my iPod while I walk by them).

Even though we may hate the thoughts we sometimes have, they are there for a reason. As harsh as it may sound, you’re totally screwing yourself over by keeping those thoughts shoved aside by listening to music.

So let’s keep it real. Real thoughts. Real feelings. Real people. That’s all the music you need.

TIFFANY LEW tends to release any frustrations here, so she’s happy in person. Please don’t fulfill her mother’s premonition and send her to jail for her thoughts. (Love you, Mom!) She can be reached at tjlew@ucdavis.edu.

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