Don’t Get Rock Blocked

“On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.” –Hunter S. Thompson


When I was a teenager–and I suspect this is true for most people reading this–music was incredibly important to me.  I didn’t play an instrument, but I had strong opinions and preferences, and I would listen to records (yep, I’m that old) with the kind of attentiveness that would probably be diagnosed as ADD today. I absorbed the trivia found in Rolling Stone magazine, kept up with the charts and eagerly awaited the next release by the artists I followed.

I also insisted upon the sanctity of the music experience. By that I mean that if I was listening to something, whether it was the Bee Gees or Lynyrd Skynyrd, I would get irate–sometimes vehemently so–when interrupted. My parents (neither of whom I recall as having a favorite song, unless it was a hymn) never understood that. But music was crucial to me; it certainly gave me hope and meaning when nothing else did.

Now, the Bible says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  Or, more appropriately, in “Two Hearts,” Bruce Springsteen says:

Once I spent my time playing tough guy scenes
But I was living in a world of childish dreams
Someday these childish dreams must end

To become a man and grow up to dream again

So the question becomes: is making the act of listening a priority one of those “childish ways,” a “childish dream?”

I say, no.  Hell, no.


I am on this soapbox (made of old record crates from Peaches Music and Video) to insist on the importance of listening to music. We live in a crass, obvious, entirely profit-driven world, and the only way that’s going to change is for people to pay attention, really pay attention, to things that aren’t crass, obvious and entirely profit-driven. Sure, there’s lots of crass, obvious, entirely profit-driven music out there; but there’s also good stuff, real stuff, that deserves our attention. Music can help us escape, but it can also be a way to confront the very real problems we encounter. The right song at the right moment can change the course of your life.

Someone coined the term “rock blocked” for when your listening is interrupted by something tedious and mundane, usually at the point where you’re in the middle of that air guitar solo or lip-synching to the most emotional part of the lyrics. It happens to everyone, and it certainly happens more when you’re an adult, because most other adults assume that, unless you’re in the music business, listening can’t be that important. But that’s wrong.

So stand up for your right to listen. Carve out that space for music, because you never know when it could be one of those songs, one of those moments that changes your life. Don’t let yourself get rock-blocked!

One Comment on “Don’t Get Rock Blocked”

  1. My dad is of the same mind set. He points out that for most of human history, save for the past hundred years or so, you had to actually be in the presence of a musician to hear the music. Also, you probably were interacting in some way- be it by song or dance. This meant that all of your attention was most likely focused on that music. And now, in our modern times, when music is so often “just background,” he feels that we have lost something. I tend to agree.

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