I was having a fairly quiet drive home from the grocery store the other day and while I was waiting in traffic for a light to change, a car pulled up beside me. It was an average looking car, but pouring out of every crack and crevice was the worst kind of noise pollution. Rap, or what I refer to as rape of the ears, was being played at a volume that could have caused a temporary threshold shift in my hearing, had I sat there for long. That kid’s head was bobbing so fast that the thought of shaken baby syndrome came to mind and his hands were pounding on the steering wheel so hard that I’m sure he had calluses where his palms made contact. His car was vibrating. Heck! My car was vibrating!
When the light changed, we didn’t move. He was totally absorbed in the chaos of the music and I was amazed that anybody could appear to enjoy that kind of auditory abuse. That he actually paid money so he could torture himself was unbelievable. As a retired audiologist, I could see his auditory nerve fibers dropping like flies, causing permanent hearing loss. It’s a kind of job security for those who fit hearing aids. I think horns honked but who would know for sure? I drove on, contemplating the various kinds of music available and what some people consider to be music.
Let me assure you that I am not opposed to loud music. Once a year, when I’m in the mood to clean, I crank up my stereo loud enough to shake the dust from the chandeliers and ceiling. It’s very efficient. I am also guilty of blasting it in the car at times. It’s a great cover for my own off-key renditions whenever I’m singing. And have you ever traveled with kids? In my car, the louder the kids whined, the louder the music got. Because I couldn’t see their lips moving while I concentrated on the road and the lyrics, I was capable of pretending they were happy little travelers, always kind to their siblings. Eventually, they’d get the idea that I wasn’t going to respond to the little tattle-whine-complain-argue voice from the back seat. They’d stop and the volume of the music would become tolerable again. Vehicles should come equipped with whine sensors which would automatically control the volume of the radio. Listen up, car manufacturers of America, if there are any of you left: mothers will buy this feature!
There is one other time that the volume of my stereo is loud and that is when I listen to Enya. Some of her Celtic music is so beautiful that all I can do is crank it up and let it consume me. That type of music is a few steps beyond what I normally listen to, but I love it. It’s a kind of pure beauty that makes me want to close my eyes and inhale peace and harmony. This is good, as long as I’m not driving.