I remember driving one night and quietly playing System of a Down on the RV's front speakers. Jeffrey, my buddy, came up from the back bedroom where he had been resting and asked if everything was okay.
Yeah, I'm good. Why do you ask?
- Are you feeling…aggressive?
- What's with the angry music?
I just like it. I said. I'm not angry. I'm not depressed. I'm not in a bad mood. I just feel like listening to some crazy Armenians play experimental metal in odd time signatures.
Don't worry, I'm not mad. At you, or anyone else.
He patted my shoulder and returned to the back.
That's the kind of guy he was. And is. He cared enough to check on me, which I really appreciate. This is in no way making fun of his concern over my well-being. That's what friends do.
I still like loud music. We have family danceoffs to the Chemical Brothers. And I am guessing there are few households on the West Coast who blast Rachmaninov on vinyl as exuberantly as we do (within safe hearing limits, of course :)
I don't listen to System of a Down a whole lot these days, but I still enjoy them occasionally. Their head bouncing, insanely charged brand of heaviness unfairly got tagged with the 'nu-metal' label of the early '00s, but make no mistake: there was and is no other band quite like them.
Sometimes, music does match your mood. You're sad, so you listen to David Gray. You're angry, so you listen to Deftones. You feel especially hip, you listen to Jay-Z :) Et cetera. But sometimes there's no relationship between your gut emotional state and the music you soundtrack the moment with. And no reason for good friends to be worried. But it's still nice when they check in with you to make sure.
There's two schools of thought when it comes to inquiring about people's well-being (or approaching them when something awful in their life has just occurred). One is the "if something's wrong and they want to talk about it, then they'll let me know, so I won't bother them unless they decide to tell me" approach.
The other is the "hey, I care about this person and if I think something might be wrong, I'll ask them and proactively make sure they're okay." This is the one I like. The one that people like my Mom and other people I admire subscribe to.
Our daughter wants to start playing the piano and the cello, like her Aunt Lanessa. Our son is huge into percussion - his drumsticks accompany him everywhere, sunup to sundown. Maybe they'll start a jazz combo one of these days. Or maybe they'll play alongside each other in an experimental thrash metal band. Who knows. As long as there is love in their hearts and joy splattered across their faces, and as long as they remember to be the kind of people who ask others how they're doing, like my friend Jeffrey.
Right now, I am listening to Queens of the Stone Age and I am in such a wonderful mood, and I just smiled at a stranger while listening to the desert metalscreamers chug their way through Millionaire.
But they're no System of a Down. Nope. Prison Song = Greatest Song Ever.
System of a Down