On Sharing Music With You, II.

steve cuocci
6 min readMar 26, 2024

Am I failing?

When I send something to someone and they deem it unworthy of their time*, and they don’t listen to the song, the album[, the phrase, the chord, the lyric], have I failed? Have I not lived up to the reputation that I’ve given myself? Is my connection with this person so frayed that the fabric of the communication we’ve threaded together is unbinding, disintegrating until it’s only seams and corners? Is the ice so thin that I’m falling through, shouting about the last three-minute and thirty-second memory I thought we shared, but it was just a soundproof two-way mirror that I misinterpreted?

Every time I write about an album and post it here, I’m not thinking of you. I’m thinking of them. All the faceless everyones who are hungry for music in the anonymous way that we read about them in liner notes, in the way that we jot down bands that we see mentioned on tour posters. It’s for the person who wants to make a song a piece of themselves and uses Shazam to define exactly what the sounds going around them can be. It’s not about you. When I post a list of some of my favorite songs over the last few months, it’s a type of journaling, a type of archiving that I want all of them to find. I want you in here too, of course. But in these longer form updates, in these entries that go on about memory, in the posts that wade into the discourse about modern vs retro music, and how I think that these 6–12 songs fit into that, I am writing them to honor the music and those that seek it.

When I send you a song, though, I’m thinking of you. Romantically, platonically, I thought of how you would feel. These notes shaped you in my mind. Some pathway that we’ve forged in the way that we speak and the way that we communicate, the way that we fit into each others’ lives, I was thinking of you. And when it goes out towards you, lands on some finite and digital plain and sits on the runway, idling for the rest of our lives… am I doing it wrong? Am I donating to some false charity? Or worse, when the music gets played, when the song gets digested, when the album gets spun and there’s a hollow gulch of silence between us… am i fuckin’ up?

There’s series of advertisements for Progressive Insurance that hinges upon the concept of us Becoming Our Parents. I’ve always thought they were quality, but some of them really nail the concept. Recently, there’s been one airing that features one of the People Becoming Parents who is at a deli waiting to order a sandwich when LL Cool J comes up to the counter to do the same. Keith’s counselor begins to walk him through the concept, and warns him to just act normal, keep cool, not do a damn thing. In what feels like less than seconds, Keith turns around and slaps LL Cool J in the ears with a “Hi, I’m Keith,” forever trapped J in an interaction he has never asked for.

As the two of them wait for their sandwiches, Keith continues to banter about his life, his world, his perceived similarities with the star. “There he is, THERE’S my nephew,” he says. And after a cut, no idea of how long it was before the presentation of the nephew and the next line, Keith explains, no doubt after taking full minutes pulling up the clip:

“I got a video of him playing piano.” LL Cool J is vividly uninterested.

Am I Keith?
Is the new Rosie Tucker song my nephew playing piano?
Am I that far gone?
Am I washed?

I recently discovered that the way that I think about music, the way that I think about sound and audio far subcedes the way that my memory, experience and mental recall exists within all other senses. When asked if I could mentally recreate my favorite song, in the echo chamber of my own mind, I couldn’t do it. No less could I speed it up, slow it down, pitch shift it, imagine other people singing it, isolate the instruments. When I speak about how I interact with lyrics, the line I often say is, “even for my favorite songs, I can’t tell you what they’re saying half the time.” And by highlighting this, I’d like to shed light on how my perspective has shifted within this space: listening to the music I listen to is the only way that I get to experience the music I listen to. I can’t recall it. I can’t reengage with it. I can’t pull up hooks at random. By playing a song, the song is heard and for me that’s the only way it can happen. I didn’t really consider this until a couple of days ago. I’m starting to think maybe that’s why my relationship with this art form has been shaped/is being shaped.

When I write about it, I write about it differently than anyone I read. I use words I don’t often see others use when talking about it. In fact, when writing previously about “reviews”, I don’t even want someone to describe a song to me.

I want to listen.
I want you to listen.
I want us to experience the song as it is at any given context, in any given space.

When I used to do my quarterly, monthly, annual, biannual [whatever] mixes (as seen here noted by roman numerals), I would often say that the best way for others to digest them would be to sit with me (usually in a car, on a road trip, on an hour and twenty minute vehicular hike) and ‘get into it’ with me. I remember one time listening to Anathallo’s Floating World [here] for the tenth, twentieth time and needing someone else to hear it, so I called (probably AIM’d, actually) a friend and picked him up and we listened to it in peripheral silence. Is that experience diminished? Is that experience overwhelming? Is it now watered down because it’s so easy to share these moments in a copy, paste, send, disappear culture?

Am I slipping out here?
Am I bothering you?
Am I failing you?

*All of your personal time is valuable. It is priceless. You will never get it back. Once you use it, it is spent. There is no coming back to it. Your existence is based entirely upon the experience you are providing yourself by your use of your time. The return on investment is the ease of life, the comfort of thought, the prosperity of conscience and providence of form as a result of how you have personally spent your time. Only you are capable of determining what is worthy of your time and as all of the minutes, seconds, hours and years are spent in your own personal currency, there is no way to convince another person on how the conversion rate can and should work. In this entry, I am not being callous or sarcastic in admitting that my worth in their temporal finance is low, I am instead frankly assessing that my request for the loan of the way they’ve spent their uncommitted time is likely being denied on the basis of their engagement. The thesis of this entire piece is that if my ‘product’ on offer is not at a value premium equivalent or above that which they instead used to displace such requested time, maybe it’s my product that I need to take off the market or no longer provide to this vendor.