“And why do you sing Hallelujah
If it means nothing to you
Why do you sing with me at all?”
For over a year, I managed a high-end cosmetics counter in a department store. To pass the time (among other things), I played music behind the counter. The store played its own typical Musak, which thankfully we could not hear, as cosmetics was the noisiest department.
Whenever I found myself in the Men’s Department, or Customer Service, I considered myself grateful that I wasn’t subjected to endless hours of holiday music, or Gordon Lightfoot tunes.
I generally played upbeat music – eighties hits, Madonna, soundtrack – as it tended to attract customers and generated business. Occasionally, I chose something different, such as Johnny Cash, and appreciated the strange looks I received from passerbys.
I had gotten out of a whirlwind romance when I bought the Damien Rice CD. It seemed the perfect CD to wallow to, and I played it incessantly. Eight hours a day, for a week or so. The same maudlin songs, lacking hope and joy.
Finally, my counter-mate, a woman (about 60 years old), took the CD out of the stereo declaring, “I can’t take this CD anymore! It is so depressing and so miserable.”
Which brought me back to a moment in college…
After playing Chicago’s “Look Away” for the twentieth-or-so time, my roommate threatened me – “Turn this off, or I’ll have Pete run it over with his truck.”
The maudlin music works for the person who is choosing to play it, but rarely for the people forced to listen to it.