The Levels Of Difficulty With Which I’ve Listened To Music

Shani Silver
8 min readMay 6, 2020

Do you see that, kids? That’s called a AA battery.

Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

A moment ago, it was too quiet in here. I sat melted into my sofa like paraffin wax and didn’t like the stillness. So I said, “Alexa, play Spotify.” And she did. I was instantly transported to my youth, wherein if only music had been so simple to access. I really started to remember. Every skipped CD, dead battery, scratched record, frozen download, fucked up tape I had to rewind with a finger—I remembered just how hard I’ve actually had to fight for my right to party. Will the children of today ever know what we, as early-80s born beings, had to go through in order to access that most crucial of entertainment mediums? Music is the fabric of us. Will they ever know how hard I had to work to make it mine? They will if I tell them. I will tell them about the way things used to be. I will tell them how goddamned far I’ve come, and how their all-access, on-demand, effortless little lives could never.

At first, I had to beg. I wasn’t tall or skilled enough to work the record player, and I’m pretty sure it was untethered to the wall and would have come crashing down upon me if I’d made any real attempt, so if I wanted to hear music, I had to enlist help. My parents were reluctant, and who could blame them, as their five-year-old only ever desired two songs: “Got My Mind Set On You” by George Harrison, and “The Heat Is On” by Glenn Frey. The only other tunes I knew existed were the theme songs to Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And we didn’t have those on vinyl.

The first time I had any of my own agency over music was in the form of a small radio with a cord that plugged into the wall. It was also an alarm clock even though I was seven. I’d never slept past sunrise and still don’t. There was a yellow plastic dial I’d have to turn with a certain degree of precision to land on 106.1 Kiss FM, and I’ll tell you it took time to get good at this task. The first song I recall coming out of my radio is “Bohemian Rhapsody,” by Queen. Which, in my opinion, is the ideal way to indoctrinate a young girl into popular culture. The bar was set high, as it should have been. Not long thereafter I saw a televised Queen performance and recognized the song from my alarm clock. I would remain in love with Freddy Mercury for the…

Shani Silver

Author, podcaster. shanisilver@gmail