Friday, November 02, 2007

The Session 9: Beer and Music

Well, this month's Session is upon us. The topic at hand is Beer and Music, and it comes to us from Tomme over at Lost Abbey, who poses this challenge:

For this session, I am looking towards my fellow bloggers to share a music and beer moment with. It could be that Pearl Jam show I attended 7 years ago where I was forced to drink 5 Coronas to stay warm. But more likely, it could be an album or song that you’re always listening to.


In thinking about this month’s Session, which is beer and music, I took some time out the other day when I shut most of my myriad daily distractions down – cut off the television, cut off the computer, and put away the extraneous reading material. I ambled over to my refrigerator, and popped open a bottle of Flying Bison Aviator Red (an Irish Red-style ale), and poured it into a pint-glass. The next step was to rifle through my CD collection. Upon finding my copy of Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits, I was good to go. It was time for the Fleetwood Mac Hour.

The tradition of the Fleetwood Mac Hour dates back to the fall of 1998, when I was a Senior at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. Admittedly, then I was a bit less of a aficionado of good beer: I was indiscriminate in my consumption of a number of indistinguishable lagers, and my palate was as one-dimensional as a Fred Durst rap, ranging from Miller High Life to Natural Ice, and encompassing every Schmidt's, Schlitz, and Blatz along that spectrum. My roommate Jake and I used to, every now and then, take a break from the crazed goings-on of that year by taking a bit of time to sit down together in our dorm room. We’d grab cans of one of the aforementioned cheap lagers from the fridge, pop some Fleetwood Mac on the stereo (it was most assuredly uncool to love the Mac, but we’d found out that it was a shared guilty pleasure), and relax. Some days, we’d talk. Others, we’d just listen. It may seem like a simpler time now, but then, it felt rushed and ominously finite. This was our way of taking a break from that. I don’t think that our other friends had this particular ritual, but I know that others did something similar (my friend PJ still reminisces about a “Steely Dan Hour” that involved hot apple cider and Bacardi 151).

(Yes, there'd be times when other albums would creep in to this ritual: R.E.M.'s "Automatic For The People," Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited," and Jeff Buckley's "Grace" all got a spin at some time or another during these times - all of them singularly remarkable albums. But there was something about the Mac - as assuredly uncool as they were - that just seemed to fit nicely with what we needed to do. I wish I could put my finger on why.)

Now, though, the Fleetwood Mac Hour is a solitary pursuit. The switch from cans of cheap lager (far too often, it'd be Milwaukee’s Best Ice, which made Milwaukee’s Best seem subtle and refined in comparison) to good beer has been a welcome one. Flying Bison Aviator Red was a good match for this warm late-October day; malty and sweet with a subtle hop taste and a hint of something smoky – which I later found was roasted barley - it was a good bridge between the summer beers I’ve been drinking for a few months and the stouts and porters that will no doubt dominate my palate in the coming snowy season.

(Previous excursions into the Fleetwood Mac Hour - my solitary, almost meditative version of it - have been celebrated with different beers. I've been really lucky - I've tried new beers during these times and have been (by and large) really happy in taking risks. Whether it's Rock Art's Ridge Runner Ale (my new favorite barleywine, from a newly-discovered Vermont brewery) or a growler of Captain Lawrence's Liquid Gold, this is as good a time as any to try new beers.)

After taking the first sip of whatever it is that I've poured for myself, it’s time for the Mac. Track 1 sucks me in – “Rhiannon.” Next thing I know, I’m transported from my current-day worries, and I’m in full reminiscence mode. The tracks of the Mac’s “Greatest Hits” compilation serve as a highlight reel of great tune after great tune – “Go Your Own Way,” “Sara,” “Little Lies,” and “Say You Love Me.” Some great Fleetwood Mac songs are missing (Lindsey Buckingham’s poignant “Never Going Back Again,” from “Rumours,” for one), but never mind. The music’s main function is to help me relax, and it succeeds on every level.

Admittedly, when the disc is over, I’m already back – television blaring, computer up and running (when I can get my blasted laptop to work), copy of “GQ” magazine nearby, and the worries of the current day pulse through my frontal lobe incessantly. That being said, it’s nice to know that I can get a little bit of that serenity back into my life, even if it’s only for a little bit.

1 comment:

Wise Owl said...

Interesting story.I like it.Now,I wanna open a bottle of Guiness, and pour it into a pint-glass as well :)