I'm driving home in rain, thinking about the one more cup of coffee I'm going to have when I get home.

The White Stripes / The White Stripes (1999)

Grocery store a few minutes ago. Went through self-checkout, and I was on the way out the door but then a magazine caught my eye. Rolling Stone's end of year issue, which includes their picks for the 50 Best Albums. I am a sucker for those yearly wrapups.

I backed up two steps, thumbed through to the section where they have all their picks listed. Some usual suspects, plus a few surprises. Frank Ocean, Muse, Beach House, Passion Pit, Azalea Banks, Dr. John. Others I haven't heard. No Jason Lytle. Lame.

This lady came up to me. A checker. Anything good in there? I looked up. I've seen her before. The person who oversees the self-checkouts to make sure nobody's slipping Butterfingers or five dollar DVDs into their bag.

I said: Oh, I'm just checking out their end-of-year music lists. I'm kind of a music nerd. Have been ever since I was a kid.

She goes: Oh yeah, yeah yeah yeah, my family is too. I just bought all the kids mp3 players at Christmas. We listen to everything: oldies, Christian, hip hop, rock and roll, I mean we listen to it all.

We started chatting, talking a little about our listening experiences. Sounds like their family has a record player as well. A mini-conversation about the joy of music.

Her name was Basillia, I believe. She was kind of ignoring the other customers while we were speaking, which made me feel extra-special. Our conversation ended abruptly when she had to help someone else.

It was cool how she approached and initiated conversation, based simply on my perusal of a music magazine. Sometimes I've wondered, in a larger sense, what is the importance of my caring about music when I'm not really contributing anything to it? In the visual arts, I am a contributing producer in both what I teach and in what I create.

Sometimes I have existential conversations with myself about Music. It is an art form like no other. It doesn't need explanation or translation. You can simply enjoy it on its own; as stand-alone, simply enjoying the melody or the beat or as background soundtrack. You can also go as deep into it as you want, critiquing, analyzing and evaluating and connecting it with other larger aspects of life.

In one important way, Music and Coffee are relevant to me in a way that's more than a self-centered luxury:

They are both conversation points. For me. They are a thing; what Hugh MacLeod might call a social object ("a node in the social network"). I could sit alone in an empty room, listening to Grandaddy or Cat Power with a cup of coffee, and I would still appreciate that coffee and melody. But in an even more meaningful way, coffee and music are something that have helped connect me with other people as a catalyst for conversation and interaction.

Bob Dylan / Desire (1976)

People say 'why would I buy a cuppa coffee when I could make it at home myself for a fraction of the price?'

Economics are certainly important. But I think that what is missed sometimes is the fact that oftentimes hobbies or interests are not just gratuitous luxuries. They are important because they help connect you to people. Sometimes they help connect you to people in obvious ways:

e.g. you really like LEGO, so you connect with other LEGO aficionados.

Other times a particular interest is simply a starter. A catalyst that helps start a conversation. That's why pursuing hobbies, having interests, having things that may seem gratuitous are so important. Not just for your own individual soul and ability to be emotionally healthy and happy, but also in a larger sense to help you connect with other people. To help introduce you and put you in the path of strangers. To create opportunities for tiny conversations.

Gonna go have One More Cup of Coffee. And listen to Bob Dylan or the White Stripes. Both versions are fantastic. I haven't decided which version is the greatest ever. The easy answer, of course, is 'how can you ever improve on the original?' But that's not really fair, because so many other artists have already improved on Dylan's originals. Just listen to the Byrds (Mr. Tambourine Man), Hendrix (All Along the Watchtower), Guns N' Roses (Knockin' On Heaven's Door), Johnny & June (It Ain't Me, Babe) or even Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova (You Ain't Goin' Nowhere).

Bob Dylan the Songwriter trumps Bob Dylan the Singer. But I gotta lotta love for both Bobs. And Jack and Meg. Okay. Onto another cuppa coffee. Anybody wanna come hang out?

Bob Dylan
One More Cup of Coffee

The White Stripes
One More Cup of Coffee
The White Stripes


  1. Just because of this I'm making myself some coffee and listening to BD, right now.

    1. Nice! Let me know any favourite tracks, brother :)


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