Why We Need To Share

by James Wallace Harris, Thursday, December 7, 2017

This morning while I was eating my breakfast I played “Your Top Songs 2017.” This is a playlist Spotify generated for me by collecting the songs I listened to most this year. If you subscribe to Spotify you can play the songs with this embedded player immediately below. For those who don’t, I’m going to embed some YouTube videos to try.

I played this music very loud while I ate and because it’s the music I love the most. It moves me in ways I can’t describe. And while this music pushed my emotional buttons I wished I had someone here to share it with. My friend Mike was my last pal who would listen to music with me, but his hearing has gone downhill so he no longer likes to share music. Getting old is sad. I worry that my hearing is going too.

The past year, more than ever, I realized that friendships are based on what we share. I think this is why Facebook is so popular. We post something we like and then see who else likes it. It’s always fun to find a video or cartoon that many friends love too. I guess it’s a kind of validation of our tastes. But I think it also allows us to feel we’re existing close to someone.

We all live in our heads, and no matter how physically close we get to another person we don’t feel that closeness unless we psychologically resonate. The easiest way to achieve this is to do something together with another person that shares our interests. For example, it’s far more enjoyable to go to a movie and both people love it than to go and only one person love the show.

I love the Bette Midler song above. I will relate to you more if you love it too. Now “Do You Want To Dance” is an easy song to like so I should find plenty of friends to share it. And “The Other Side” by Michael Nyman easily admired by most folks because it’s so pretty. But what about “Moanin'” by Charles Mingus. Mike and I connected on this song, but I don’t think I have another friend that shares this particular love.

Probably somewhere in the middle, I can find more people who will share “I’ll Play the Blues for You (Pts. 1 & 2)” by Albert King. Bette Midler’s song was pop music, so duh, that stands for popular music. Jazz is esoteric for most music fans, but blues has a decent following. I share a love of the blues with my sister Becky. I almost can’t play this Albert King song too loud.

Susan, my wife have a lot of songs we love together, but our playlists of favorite songs are very different. When we’re in the car we have to choose who’s songs get played. When a song she’s crazy about comes on and I don’t love it back Susan’s disappointed. The same is true when one of my favorites is playing and she finds it annoying.

Susan works out of town, so in the evenings I have different friends over to watch TV in the evening. Each friendship is a Venn diagram where we find what to watch in the intersection of interests. What’s really difficult is to have 3-4 people all trying to agree on a film to watch. It’s a very satisfying feeling when the pick makes four people happy.

However, there’s a range of television shows and movies I want to see that I can’t find a friend to share. This makes me feel lonelier. Even Janis, my main TV buddy goes to sleep on a many of the shows I’m most anxious to see. Generally, I have to watch westerns, documentaries, and old black and white movies from the 1930s and 1940s by myself.

Some of my most intense feelings come from songs, books, movies, and television shows. Often these deeply aesthetic pleasures come late at night when I’m alone. Listening to these songs this morning is generating intense emotions that I wish I could describe, but can’t. And I think that’s the key to why we want to share. We can’t describe what we feel so we at least hope to find someone to experience the same thing with us. Unfortunately, we can click the Like icon but we have no way of knowing if what our friends are feeling is the same thing we’re feeling.

Do any of these songs resonate with you?


7 thoughts on “Why We Need To Share”

  1. That’s the quest, isn’t it? —To share the things you love with someone else who loves the same things, for the same reason, and to the same extent. My sister and I do this to each other, but it normally doesn’t work. She did once take me to see a movie that I would probably never have gone to see on my own, and I would today nominate it as my favorite movie—but it’s exceptional for that to happen.

  2. Oh, sorry. It was Educating Rita (1983), with Michael Caine and Julie Walters.

    For most people, this is not much more than a light, frothy comedy—and it is, for much of the early going. But for me, the more serious themes resonated: escaping the role you are shoehorned into; living a more meaningful life. And perhaps not succeeding.

    I also love the bittersweet ending, which seems just right.

  3. Hi James

    I found this a really interesting post. The ability to make connections with people concerning the things that bring joy or bring meaning to our lives always seems tenuous despite the fact we can be very close to them. My wife and I struggle to find find TV shows we both like, I admit I am the problem in that I get turned off very easily, I rarely/never watch sitcoms for example. I talk to a friend about SF every week but we often like very different authors and types. I often see friends I used to work with for lunch and we set along great and can be quite supportive, but the conversations can be pretty superficial, we often do not have that many common interests.

    I enjoyed listening to the music you posted and will try to describe my reaction to some songs that I had never heard before but quite liked. The Mingus and King I liked, blues and jazz if I listen to it with no distractions, often makes me think about rain in the city, car lights and droplets on the windows. Maybe a New York vibe as seen in old films, listening to a radio station from far away, now I dated myself. This can occur even at the cabin which is as uncosmopolitan as you can get. While in archaeology I spent a lot of time in rural areas where the only social venue was the small hotel bars and Williams takes me there, I love the harmonica. The Sande might have been my favourite, with my poor hearing I often have trouble understanding lyrics, her voice was so pure, clear and hypnotic I did follow her down the river.

    I will include a plug for my Van Morrison favourite ” And It Stoned Me”.

    I have rambled long enough.
    All the best

  4. Guy, my wife gets annoyed at me because I’ll start watching a TV show with her and then after a few minutes give up on it. We can find shows to share if we work at it. I’m very picky and she’s a TV whore. (Her own words.) I did watch all seven seasons of The Gilmore Girls with her to make Susan happy. But I couldn’t stick with Grey’s Anatomy. She will sit in the room while I’m watching westerns, but she’ll play on her computer. But we are much happier when we can find a show we’re both anxious to watch together. I never could get into How I Met Your Mother but I can enjoy watching Fraiser with her. We both like The Big Bang Theory. Currently, we’re sharing Jeopardy and the New York Times mini-crossword puzzle every day. Susan works out of town during the week so we compare notes in the evening.

    To get my TV watching buddy, Janis, to regularly come over requires finding a truly addictive binge-worthy TV shows. We’re in the midst of Good Behavior and we just finished The Deuce. I have other friends that I share other genres with. I’ve wondered what it would be like to find another person that had exactly my same tastes.

    “The River” is a fantastic song. And I play Van Morrison all the time. There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t hear something from Van the Man. Susan even got to see him live a few weeks ago. She has a group of concert going buddies where she works.

  5. Anything (except his “bluesy” songs) by Van Morrison will click with me. I listen to a lot of Motown music and classical music (Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, etc.). My kids think I’m crazy because I still listen to music CDs.

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