There’s no denying that, for someone who is completely tone-deaf and possesses no sense of rhythm, I think about music way too much. I may not listen too much, but I lack that ever-so-important ability to hear a song, enjoy it, and then not spend weeks of my life reading about the person who wrote it. I’d be infinitely more productive without this obsession weighing me down, but sometimes it has its benefits. I was recently forced to mitigate a potential music industry crisis, and the consequences I prevented were steep.
Last week I learned that, although the US economy may be hurtling towards a recession, the keytar industry is apparently thriving.
For those who may have forgotten, my roommate is a guitarist who spray paints his “stage name” onto every item of clothing he owns. If someone calls him a musician, he’ll usually correct him and say “no, I’m a rock star.” And the other day, he came to the conclusion that his music career would accelerate if he purchased the instrument that combines the worst aspects of the keyboard and the guitar.
Now, my apartment is the setting for a lot of fun antics. But on school nights, I follow Lily and Marshall Erickson’s rule of only dealing with problems if they’re an eight or higher on a scale of one to ten. I was reading Othello for my Shakespeare class when he proudly returns and announces that he’s spending $1,000 on a keytar.
Yeah, that’s a ten.
My roommate, who I love dearly, has a hard enough time being taken seriously in the cutthroat world of Boston open mic nights. If we’re being honest, the spray-painted clothing is not helping anything. Add a keytar to the mix, and his career would start to look like some musical equivalent of Alec Baldwin’s brothers.
“Interesting,” I replied. “Do you play piano?”
“No, but I play guitar, so I probably have the hard part out of the way.”
“How would it add to your sound?”
“I’m not sure, but it would definitely be awesome.”
I should also add that my roommate plays by himself. So on stage it would be just him, a microphone, and…a keytar, Sometimes, you can just tell that a situation needs to be nipped in the bud.
“You think I could pull it off?” he asked, clearly wanting a “yes.”
I had to choose my words very carefully.
“Well, the way I see it, you have two choices. If you get a keytar, it’d be awesome, but then you’d have to become a comedy act.”
“What do you mean? I don’t want to be a comedian.”
I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but to save his career, I had to make him choose between the keytar and the thing he loves the most.
“Well, you wear your own name on every shirt you own. Which is fine for a rockstar. But add a keytar to that, and suddenly you become Jack Black. And then you’d be an awesome comedy act.”
I knew I had him. As exciting as this new instrument might have been, there was no way he was going to stop spray painting his name on his clothing.
“I mean, the keytar would be awesome. You’d just have to wear some regular shirts.”
Anyone who’s met my roommate could tell you this would be an absolute deal killer. After another half hour of discussion, this new dream died as quickly as it began.
So yeah, maybe I care about music a little too much. I’d benefit from spending less time with my Bob Dylan albums and Grateful Dead bootlegs. But if there’s one conviction that I’ll hold forever, it’s that no piece of knowledge is completely useless. A lifetime spent loving music gave me the expertise to stop my roommate from buying a keytar. If you ask me, that’s 20,000 hours well spent.
Student, blogger, keytar interventionist