The Art of Listening

Posted by on Apr 30, 2018 in Blog, Featured | 8 comments

The Art of Listening

I’ve written about my love of books and my love of films so it’s time to write about my love of music. I grew up as a child hearing Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Bill Evans, and classical music. I remember standing at the top of our stairs and yelling down to my father, “Dad, can you put on Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto so I can get to sleep?”

When I was a sophomore in high school back in 1964, we moved to Detroit and I discovered Motown. My sister and I used to go downtown and see Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Four Tops, and Martha and the Vandellas. All live! I went to high school with Stevie Wonder, whose hit, Fingertips, had just come out. It was a magical time in Detroit.

Later in high school out in Lawrence, Kansas, I discovered Bob Dylan. My friends and I would go to a Pizza Hut and put Like a Rolling Stone on the jukebox. When it would begin to play, everyone around us would begin to boo. They hated it. And we would stand up in front of them and bow as we were lip-synching the words. It’s still one of my favorite songs.

Since high school, I have gone through many phases of music—folk, classical, rock, jazz, country, new age, and R&B. Sometimes I would get stuck on one type of music but generally, I found that I preferred to have an array to fit my varied moods. I can literally shut off the outside world and lose myself by listening to music.

When I was working, I used to create CDs of my favorite music and give them to members of teams that I was working with as a gift. Sometimes I would get more specific. I would burn CDs of my favorite guitar solos, my favorite folk songs, my favorite dance music, etc. It was as much fun creating a CD as it was listening to it when I was done.

And, believe it or not, my wife, Farn, and I still listen to CDs. In our living room, we have approximately 500 CDs in a bookcase. They are organized by type of music. When iTunes made CDs almost obsolete, a young visitor to our house said to me, “Why do you have all of those CDs taking up all of that space? You know that you can download all of that music now?” And I replied, “ I know I can. But I like CDs. I enjoy opening them up, reading the lyrics, and seeing who are playing various instruments. Plus, I like having a visual display of the music we like. It gives our guests a sense of who we are—the type of music we listen to.”

I don’t think he got it. But music is very central in my life. In many ways, it’s my own way of meditating. I remember a special moment years ago when our older son, Dylan, was young and I was downstairs listening to music when all of a sudden I heard him calling down to me, “Dad, would you put on Handel’s Water Music?” I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


  1. John, What a nice remembering. I’m listening to one of your CD mixes right now. Pete

  2. It seems you and Bob share the love of music as well as hiking. I wonder if there’s a connection with the sounds of nature and the sounds of music.

  3. Motown now and forever!!!

  4. Another terrific John Dupre commentary. You express things so well. I feel exactly as you do about CDs. And books. And newspapers.

  5. I’m with you, John… I still have all my LPs, my Dad’s LPs I grew up with, and all of my large CD collection. Several years ago, I followed the path your young visitor recommended and put them all into my iTunes library. Loading up my iPod with various playlists, I hooked it up to my stereo system and started listening that way. It didn’t take long before my stored CDs started coming out again, as well as new CDs that I still buy, and they are piling up around my stereo. Give me the physical CD with stories and lyrics any day over the cyber collection. We share a lot of the same tastes, you and I, and I still will be forever grateful to you for turning me on to Leonard Cohen.

  6. My parents spent time in New Orleans after the war, so growing we listened to the jazz greats on 78 records. We still have some of those records and they create a special sound that you can’t get with other forms of music. I also remember in the Austin Powers movie, International Man of Mystery, when he awakens from a 30 freeze from the 60’s and tries to play a CD on a 45 recorder player….yeah baby.

  7. I don’t know….sounds like a bunch of old people talking about the “good old days”. “I used to walk through 3 feet of snow listening to my Sony Walkman” kind of thing. I love music as well and the availability of literally millions of artists and their songs via streaming has introduced me to a whole new population of musicians (many of them old or dead) who I never would have been exposed to. I also have a large CD and LP collection. The truth is, I rarely listen to them anymore (usually only when the our network is down).

    But to each his own, John. I know you love your CD’s. It’s all good. It’s the listening that really matters.

  8. Thanks for the terrific post

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