Sunday, March 21, 2010

Addictive Sounds

Last night on the radio I heard an interview with Martin Lindstrom. He researched the ten most addictive sounds to Americans. He divided them into three categories: branded (advertising) and non-branded taken together, branded exclusively, and non-branded exclusively.

The top ten non-branded sounds are a baby giggle, vibrating cell phone, ATM cash register, “Star Spangled Banner,” sizzling steak, “Hail to the Chief,” cigarette light and inhale, “Wedding March,” “Wish Upon A Star,” and the “Late Night With David Letterman” theme.

This is disturbing. Are Americans truly this shallow and dull? No wonder Sarah Palin gets thousands of dollars for a public appearance.

These are not sounds I find compelling, much less addictive. I’ll go along with the sizzling steak. The sizzle of a steak is a syzygy of addiction -- grease, pan, and meat in a culinary conjunction of overpowering seduction -- but not one I would list in a top ten list of sounds I am most drawn to, obsessed with, or fascinated by.

They would be Dolly Parton doing push-ups, “Gimme Shelter,” ghosts juggling bones, moonlight crashing through a window, hot water percolating through freshly ground coffee, a masturbating headlight, my favorite emotion emerging from my mouth in the form of a sentence, my favorite emotion emerging from your mouth in the form of a sentence, an angel sneezing a galaxy, a mosquito hiccupping after drawing blood from an Alabama Republican.

Not that any of this matters. One person’s parakeet is another person’s basilisk.

Today I encountered spring for the first time this year. Spring is a full symphony of ensorcelling resonances. This consists of a dog barking (briefly, thank goodness), the refrigerator humming (a good feeling to be reassured that the United States is still functioning, still producing food and getting it into the grocery stores, making electricity, though fucking everything else up, like health care and a decent income), sonnets gestating in the minds of poets, robins chirping, and however the sound of sunlight permeating the atmosphere might be imagined, or perceived. In other words, today it is mostly very quiet. A soothing, delicious quiet.

I would have to put silence at the top of my list of addictive sounds. The silence of deep black space. The sheer volume and voluptuousness of it. Pure morphine.


David Grove said...

I'm addicted to God's silence. If I don't hear it for a day or so, my ears tingle and go numb, like the lips of someone trying to quit smoking.

John Olson said...

Man, amen to that! As someone who managed, finally, to quit smoking 18 years ago, I can relate. Thank you for the post.

Anonymous said...

The sound of the smell of coffee first thing in the morning.

I'll see yr "Gimme Shelter" and raise it one "(Can't Get No) Satisfaction."