If I were to free associate “John Cusack” I would say “music.”
I’m slightly obsessed with what I call Cusack Music Theory. Mainly this involves a fairly loose interpretation of my perception of the music appreciation genius that is the Cusack. Okay, so I know this comes off ridiculously stalkerish… I understand, really.
Here’s my disclaimer: I know that I don’t know John Cusack. I know that he is surely not the person who I’ve pieced together from clips of him that I perceive to be authentic from characters he has played over the years. I know that I’ll never meet him and I have no illusions of fantasy relations developing between us. I won’t be flying to distant places anytime soon with my 800X zoom lens to try to capture a moment of him getting coffee or smoking a cigarette. I don’t know his favorite color, his height, his latest girlfriend…
I was first introduced to John Cusack in The Journey of Natty Gann released in 1984… I’m sure I didn’t see it in 1984, seeing as I was only 4, but when I did, I was in love. First crush… check! This wasn’t my first music-influenced-by-John-Cusack experience but it certainly got my attention. I must have been 9 or 10. The Say Anything boombox scene was epic in so many ways. Sure, Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes is a great song, beautiful, moving and Peter Gabriel is pretty fabulous himself but what really hooked me was the little tidbit that during filming this scene, the Cusack was blaring Fishbone’s “Turn the Other Way.” Then the music began to rush in…
Bands like Fishbone, The Clash, The Specials, Elvis Costello, etc. Throw in some new wave, 80s punk and music that is proof to me that I was born in the wrong decade and my brain was saturated. I’m a walking jukebox. I catch myself listening to something and thinking, “I wonder if the Cusack would like this…” It’s a sickness, I know.
The one thing I am is sure that I like the Cusack in my head. I guess I imagine him more in the Rob Gordon- High Fidelity style. The guy with walls upon walls lined with vinyl and makes mix tapes for people. (Side note: mix tapes are the best thing EVER… if you ever felt compelled to give me something, give me a mix tape… okay, okay, a mix CD. YES, I still have a way to play tapes and I only within the last five years got rid of my 8 tracks…yes, 8 tracks.)
Is this all embarrassing? Sure. I suppose my only reprieve is John Cusack’s rumored hatred of virtual communication methods so I hardly think he’ll be stumbling across this blog anytime soon. Even if he did, it’s not like he’d tweet about it or anything. So, John, if you ARE out there reading this, let’s get a cup of coffee… I’m down.
Now, I don’t base my music decisions on whether or not I think he would like it. If I based my preferences on what someone else liked there are a lot of things that rock my world that would be missing from my collection… that would be sad. I think Cusack would say to love what you love, if it’s not messing up the world then forget the haters. He’d want me to listen to what I want… but I’m sure he would give me a patronizing look if I passed him a mix tape from my music collection and I’m also sure the Cusack uses more forceful expletives than “forget the haters.”
My definition of good music: I don’t know that I can actually define what makes good music. The music I love tends to elicit certain reactions. Something in the beat or the bass track that vibrates in my chest cavity. I find myself holding my breath… my scalp tingles… my body physically reacts. I don’t know what characteristics cause this because the songs that do this to me don’t have readily identifiable similarities.
Sometimes its music that fits into a specific moment; what I would call good driving music isn’t necessarily good Saturday morning coffee music.
So back to John Cusack. I guess I’ve bonded with my fill-in-the-blank version of John Cusack because of his love for music. He makes me feel like it’s okay to love music and not be a music theory major, not be a musician, not be a DJ or even a record store owner. I can just be me, listen to what I want, and let the music to the talking. I scour movie soundtracks, listen to every free download from up and coming artists, spend hours listening from the music wall at Virgin. I’m physically compelled to buy Starbucks compilation CDs and, well, any CD with an intriguing cover.
So, what is the purpose of this semi-random stream of thought? No, not just to gush about John Cusack. I’ve been feeling the need to reorganize my music collection so I’ve posed a challenge to myself. Listen to every album in my collection, one a day, and blog about each one… even the really embarrassing ones. And, just as a warning, they may or may not take the form of conversations with the Cusack…