A Little Happier: The Joy of Listening to Music—Even for Someone Like Me.

NOTE: These episodes were recorded before the COVID-19 situation took hold. Given the rapidly changing situation, it’s jarring to hear us ignore it—and that’s why.

I’m starting to work on my next book project, which will be about many things, including the body and the senses, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the sense of hearing. One of the truths about me is that I’m just not that into music—I like an odd song here or there, but it doesn’t pay a very big role in my life. Nevertheless, there are some songs that I absolutely love. And I’ve found that even with these songs, it’s easy to take them for granted, and not really listen hard, and appreciate them. Every year, new material in art, music, and literature comes into the public domain. Now that 2020 is here, a new crop, from 1924, is available for people to copy, transform, and use. Fortunately for me, one song that I love is now available for use, which means I can play some of it for you, and we can listen, really listen to it. It’s George Gershwin’s brilliant “Rhapsody in Blue.” I won’t play the whole thing, but here’s enough to remind you how great it is. Listening to this music reminds me that even though music doesn’t play a huge part in my life, I can still make sure to tune into its pleasures from time to time, and when I do, it’s important to listen. The whole song is about seventeen minutes long, and well worth listening to. I especially love the final two minutes—this is a song with a big ending. I play that, too. I’m thrilled that the copyright laws mean that now I’m able to play more than just a few seconds of this beautiful song for listeners.

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