At ten o’clock at night, the music above our heads seems only to be growing louder. My husband and I, both early risers, are tucked in for the night, while our neighbor upstairs, a late sleeper, has cranked up the volume on a classic-rock radio station. He is celebrating the electrifying nature of life and the late night a little bit longer.
“Do you want to go upstairs and say something?” I ask across the steady beat and hum of a solid bass line, which is the only audible part of the music, driving itself into our sleep space.
“Not really,” my husband answers grumpily.
“I don’t want to ruin his evening,” I explain my glued-to-the-bed immobility, knowing our upstairs neighbor has trouble holding and enjoying his space on the planet. Our neighbor struggles with clinical depression and, for music to be playing this late, his evening must be rocking along all right.
“Hey, can you guess what is playing?” I ask my husband, changing the focus of the conversation.
“Give me a minute,” he shifts gears mentally, from considering his personal discomfort to listening to the music’s bass line more closely. “‘Black Dog’–Led Zeppelin.”
The song finishes and another comes on. We play this game for another half-hour, not wanting to walk upstairs to crsuh our neighbor’s Spirit. And, in the process, we learn something. The most melodic bass lines create the most memorable songs–even if a band’s name eludes us, the music is memorable and a song will stand on its own with a rhythmically and melodically well constructed bass line.
Eventually, the music’s volume goes way down and, a little later, the music is turned off. The whole experience makes me wonder whether or not I have been focusing too much on what I consider the “melody” of my life, when it is the bass line–life’s small daily habits–that matter most.