The Lyrics Acquisition Stage (Piaget’s Theory Amended)

The Master, Leonard Cohen, wrote this in 1984.

I’ll be 70 in 7 years and the 70s were my playground. I was 10 going on 11 when they started.  It was then that I discovered the power of music to inspire, soothe, invoke love, and provoke dance.

Piaget’s Theory of the Four Cognitive Periods of childhood development are Sensorimotor stage (0–2 years old) Preoperational stage (2–7 years old) Concrete operational stage (7–11 years old) Formal operational stage (11 years old through adulthood).  Piaget was a famous Swiss child psychologist.  My friend Dale always maintained that the Fourth Stage was The Lyrics Acquisition Phase followed by the Operational Stage as the Fifth.

I agree.

I came of age during the 70s and the early 80s.  Didn’t dive into real adulthood, whatever real might mean, until I was 25.  Before that, I was a party girl.  Party girl in the sense that I was out with friends all the time — all the time — loading lyrics into my brain.  We were dancing, we were at concerts, we were cruising around listening to the car stereo, we were in someone’s basement listening to Pink Floyd until 2, 3, and 4 a.m.

1977 Mountain Mama

A song can transport me almost immediately to the time when it was popular. 

My music collection is large for a nonmusician and non-audiophile.  It is diverse.  I have everything from Dion and the Belmonts to Waylon Jennings and Mozart – not together of course thought that could have been something, don’t you think?

I bought a classic iPod with what was considered huge storage capacity just as they were being phased out for the newer models – 160 gigs.  I am loading, one by one, my CDs.  I won’t finish before I die. I have the iPod connected to a kick-ass stereo receiver and an Alexa.  Through the miracle of technology, I have managed to get the Alexa to run the iPod on shuffle and have that Alexa synced to the four others.  I can pulse the walls of the barn with sound and lyrics simultaneously in every room.  It’s no wonder I’m losing my hearing. 

On my honeymoon as I slipped into adulthood, I found myself at a movie theater with my brand-new husband watching Amadeus which recalls Rock Me Amadeus, but anyway… I wanted to see it and see it we did.  Well, I did.  My new husband fell asleep bored out of his mind.  I thought it a lush beautiful musical montage.  But no lyrics. 

That’s my beef with classical music.  I can’t pin it in my mind without words to frame it.  And opera, though I do listen to it often with a good book on the reading couch is usually in a foreign language and that doesn’t work either.  Oddly, Broadway show tunes do nothing for me. (<— There are a few exceptions.)

Give me a good lyric.  Léonard Cohen, of course, is the master.  The Beatles were no slouches.  And Hank Williams can rip your heart out.  I can’t remember yesterday clearly, but I can recall the lyrics to thousands (and perhaps thousands of thousands) of songs. 

It’s almost a curse.  If someone says something interesting to me, I may respond with the lyrics to some song.  Sometimes, often, they have no idea what I’m talking about. 

The charm of the 90s music scene left me unsatisfied.  I slipped into my country and blues phase, but that’s another essay though I will leave you with some Waylon!

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