I lost a song in a room today. It was a big room, the basement of an old castle-like house, since converted into a home theater and general purpose party room. Thick pillars like tornados and white brick walls older than your grandparents. The doors are either iron-wrought or heavier than people. My phone has a way to pick songs out of the air and know what they are, provide me with the information to someday soon hear them again, but this room was either too far underground or too old to be able to connect to the Internet, and so I do not know when I will hear that song again. I wish I could ask the walls. They look like the kind of walls that know their music. They are ancient walls, walls with personality, walls that know how to hold on to the light in just the right way to make them beautiful, lit and shadowed in so perfectly that you feel you have to credit the lighting not to the lights but to the walls themselves.
This has happened to me before. A different room, a song lost for different reasons. Lost to drunkenness, lost to the flaws of memory. I’ve heard it again, I’m sure I’ve heard it again since but I haven’t really heard the same song again. That’s the thing about first listens.
It’s getting rarer, this only hearing songs for the first time. We know too much. But it still happens, and most of the time you know it’s going to happen, you know you’ll never find out what you’re listening to. Your ears pick up on it, somehow. They know to pay attention. Because even if you do someday stumble upon that song again, chances are you won’t recognize it. Like passing a one night stand on the streets. The lighting will have changed, the context; you’ll see entirely different things about her and maybe even think about her for a few minutes afterward without knowing the reason why.
I wonder if rooms are ever haunted by songs. If that’s the chill we feel when we enter a certain room; the notes in the air, the walls clinging to a song they only ever heard once. I can see that longing becoming tangible over the years, palpable, acquiring a smell and a taste and a feel. We’ll slowly lose the chance to feel that longing over the years. The age of information is just beginning, and soon there’ll be little that won’t be available for us to know. That may be a source of comfort or those of us haunted by songs, but I feel it’s still a loss.