You Don’t Own Her

I saw PJ Harvey sing in Rome last Sunday. She was alone on a wide, dark stage for two hours, with an upright piano festooned with strings of white Christmas lights, a cactus, and a picture of a deer. There were also a few guitars, a zither, and a harmonica. She hardly used any percussion save for one song where she unhinged an old-fashioned metronome set at 90 or so, and a few songs where she turned on a very retro drum beat machine to accompany her playing, seamlessly turning it off at the end. She played every song like a lean piece of meat—spare and hungry. It was transfixing, and there were moments when I’m pretty sure no one breathed.

I once dated someone who loved PJ and our relationship ended bitterly and sadly and consequently I avoided her music for years. The concert became a reclamation, and she became my music.

What experiences have others had with music they once felt “belonged” to someone else?

3 thoughts on “You Don’t Own Her

  1. tjb1982

    I still feel that way about the Beatles, not only because I had an ex who ruined them for me, but because I had a theory teacher who ruined them for me, too.

    Reply
  2. EmilyG

    There is some music that I now stay away from, because I associate it with people I feel bad about. It makes me sad sometimes.

    Reply
  3. bloomradio

    There’s something about music and emotion that makes this really, really difficult for me. Like aroma or odor and memory — music and odor seem to have a special hot-line to memory and emotion that bypasses all the defenses the Ego can put up.

    I had a bad experience with someone ruin — absolutely ruin — Elvis Costello for me years ago. And I was into Elvis about as much as you can be into someone musically. I’ve tried a couple of times to “reclaim” him — but to this day I haven’t been successful. I know it sounds a little stupid, but I’ve actually considered psychotherapy to see if I can disentangle the Elvis stimulus from the emotional conditioned reaction. Alas.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Conversation and respectful debate is vital to the NewMusicBox community. However, please remember to keep comments constructive and on-topic. Avoid personal attacks and defamatory language. We reserve the right to remove any comment that the community reports as abusive or that the staff determines is inappropriate.