"Music in the Air" is the first song we learned to play on our Tonettes. About sixty little people all tooting along on their quarter notes, some in tune but many not. I can still hear it on dark cold nights when my mind plays tricks on me.
But most other nights, I just listen for music in the air.
I'm lucky. I've lived in places where you could hear it. New Orleans was always that way; when I lived in Lakeview, one could hear the sounds of Jazzfest and Voodoo Fest. People with their car radios turned way up loud, passing by. The calliopes on the steamboats could be heard all the way up to the lake. You kind of expect that from New Orleans, with its historical devotion to its own music.
New York, also, is full of music. I used to stand over the Max Neuhaus installation in Times Square, the eerie pipe tones that competed with taxis a story above on the street. The percussion of the pace of life there is a symphony of its own, how fast you walk, what accents you hear, birds and bus brakes.
So I can safely say that tonight, after the fun gig with Sea Cow, I rocked my baby daughter to sleep and heard, through the closed windows (pollen madness outside) the chords and melodies of a band playing somewhere near us. Frat party, maybe. The songs are pretty unidentifiable, and they wash in and out of range, punctuated by the periodic car coming down our street. But it's a band, a rock band, and they've been playing for at least half an hour now. It's a tiny and comforting muted ruckus out there, in the Durham air.