I pulled out my beloved Fender Champ and my harps the other day and engaged in a round of “tube rolling,” which was a regular activity for me in The Before. Tube rolling involves swapping various tubes in and out of a guitar amp in hopes of getting the tone you really want. It’s an inherently subjective process, and without a band to test it against, it can be a bit of a wasteful one (that tone you love by yourself might get lost in the mush in a band situation). Still, it’s fun and it can make a big difference; in this case, I was looking for a tone with a touch more compression, and I think I found it.
And this also made me think a little of what I’ve lost in the pandemic. It is nothing compared to what many have faced, but it still eats at me. Music has been a huge part of my life for decades, but I’m not doing gigs now and haven’t since we all went inside. I don’t anticipate that changing any time soon, especially since I’m 60 now and may have reached the end of the road anyway.
I’ve also almost entirely stopped listening to and buying music; my commute was my music-listening time, I live in a small house and my wife is not a music-head. And I haven’t seen a live band in person during the pandemic; given my risk factors, it’s generally a bad idea.
Still, I’m going to a friend’s house today for a small-group get-together outside that will be at least music-adjacent. Her neighbor, a musician, is hosting a little socially distanced music event in his yard. I am not entirely comfortable with being near that many people, even though we’ll probably hang in a back yard away from the action, but you have to keep up some kind of human engagement.
But I’m actually not looking forward to the music right now. It’s just a reminder of what I’ve lost. It’s not anywhere near the kind of loss that many have experienced, with the COVID-19 death toll now reaching 1 million worldwide and 200,000 in the U.S., but it’s a loss just the same.
Update: The get-together turned out to be soul-fulfilling, which I did not expect. It was just really healthy to be around a few dozen people and a good band. I needed it more than I knew.