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James R. Stout

Ditto!

              In the book of Genesis there’s a story told that explains why the people of the world speak different languages. The story can be found in Chapter 11: 1-9. I won’t got into the story because that’s not the point of this blog entry. I will only say that very suddenly people who had all spoken the same language ceased to understand each other and spoke different languages. Now, imagine how frustrating that must have been.

            “Hey, Charlie. Hand me that hammer.”

            “No problem, Bob.”

            “Ichimad bakenstadt wampum bagpipe, Swak.”

            “What?”

            In a short time, Charlie and Bob become so frustrated at not being able to understand each other that they give up on building the Tower that they had been working on. They packed up their tools and went home. According to the story it all happened pretty darned quick. That had to be vexing. As Emperor Commodus once said, “It vexes me. I’m terribly vexed.”

            Well, this story came to mind recently when I discovered that I am slowly losing my hearing. That’s no joke. I really am. I had my hearing checked and I’ve lost about 20% in my left ear and nearly that in my right ear. You know that sound of “snow” when the TV isn’t receiving a station? I have that sound in both ears 24/7 these days. I’m terribly vexed. As some of you know, I have spent 50 years writing, performing, and recording music. I love music and I love making music. The good news is that it’s not so bad now that I can’t do that which I love to do. The bad news is I know that if I live long enough, I will go deaf. Before you blame it all on me listening to music too loud you should be aware of something else. It’s mostly hereditary. And mostly on my mother’s side of the family. It seems that hearing loss has run in our family for many generations. My mother and all of her siblings were either deaf or nearly so by the time that they died. My grandparents were both nearly deaf. My great-grandfather was stone deaf by the time he died. My great-great grandparents both were very hard of hearing. Like I said, it’s a family trait.

            The only difference between going deaf and the events related to the Tower of Babel is that it’s a much slower process. For that, I am thankful. But it is frustrating to have to ask someone to repeat themselves. For now, it’s mostly soft-spoken people. I never have a problem understanding my sister Debbie. She is like my father was. He could be heard two counties away even when he tried to whisper. My brother-in-law Don is another story though. The only thing loud that comes out of his mouth is a sneeze. Now THAT could wake the dead! But seriously, it is frustrating on both parties when one of them has hearing loss. Of course, there are times when it’s a blessing. Let’s face it, there are some people I would just as soon not hear anyway.

            My situation isn’t nearly as bad as it could be, but I am certain that it will continue to deteriorate over time. So, it has caused me to adjust some of my priorities in getting certain things accomplished before others. I am working on a huge undertaking. The recording of many of my songs that have either never been recorded or only very poor demos made. It’s important to me to get these done while I can still hear fairly well. Now, I don’t believe there’s a bunch of people out there waiting to hear my music. Now there are a few people who are interested, but it’s not like I’m a household name or anything. AND that’s just fine by me. I don’t write and record my music for fame or fortune. I don’t expect that to ever happen. I do it because I love to do it and because I believe it’s good. Ultimately, it’s only me that I have to please to be satisfied. If someone else likes it, then that is a bonus. The icing on top. I’m not even going to try to sell the music. I’ll put it on my website at some point and then if someone wants a copy to listen to and enjoy all they need do is ask me and I’ll make it available to them – for free. It’s not that I don’t think it’s worth something. I do copyright all of my songs properly via the Library of Congress and perhaps in a hundred years a descendant of mine will get rich when I’m “discovered”.

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