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Michael Picarella: Confessions of a jazz lover

Picarella Family Report

Posted: January 2, 2009 9:03 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2009 4:30 a.m.

I must confess - I love jazz music.

Oh, and I almost killed my wife.

Yes, I'm an avid jazz listener - not smooth jazz but classic jazz, and especially bebop jazz. I love the music of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus and so many others.

But you probably want to know how I almost killed my wife. One day not too long ago, my wife confessed.

She hates my jazz music.

Oh, and she almost killed me after finally hearing enough of jazz, which was the torture that was about to take her life if I continued playing it.

"How can you listen to music without words?" she screamed.

I saved her life. I told her I wouldn't listen to jazz when she was around if that would please her. She said it would.

One day, while we were home together, I suggested we put on some of her music, today's pop hits, which is a type of music I can't stand.

What was I thinking? That kind of music literally makes my ears bleed.

Worse, I told my wife that I actually enjoyed pop tunes and bought tickets for a pop concert, a show I said I "really wanted to see," even though I would've rather rolled around naked in shards of glass.I needed to come clean. I needed to tell my wife that I really had no feelings for her music. And I needed to let her know how much I deeply missed jazz.

But I just couldn't do that to her. I didn't want her to feel bad about herself, making her think she pressured me to stop listening to the music I love when she was around, forcing me to listen to music I hate.

I thought of buying a gun, and while I was home alone, of doing the unthinkable: blowing away our stereo system. But that would be selfish.

Instead, when home alone, I closed the shades, locked the doors and put on an Oscar Peterson album to enjoy by myself. There was no other music for me. I was very happy - for the moment.

But my wife was sure to come home, and those sweet tunes and I would eventually have to part.
The days went on and on, and I continued living a lie.

I'd make up excuses to drive somewhere, anywhere, just to listen to jazz in the car. But that only lasted so long, especially at that time when gas prices were so high.

The more I was away from jazz, the more I wanted to be with jazz. And, for some strange reason, the more I wanted to be with jazz, the more I wanted new jazz.

I fed my desire with purchases from iTunes. My madness started with one song here, one song there. And then I began to buy jazz albums by the dozen.

The guilt I felt for such excess was so taxing on my conscience that I finally admitted to my wife that I was sick and that the Ken Burns documentary about the history of jazz for $79.99 on iTunes would help cure me.

"You are sick," she said.

"You're right," I said. "Where's the credit card? I'm gonna download the documentary now."
I only got worse as the weeks progressed.

My wife finally told me to play some jazz, even in her presence.

That's when I felt awful for behaving like such a child. I knew that if I started listening to jazz again when my wife was around, it would eventually kill her. She, too, knew it would kill her. Yet she was willing to put her life on the line so I could listen to jazz.

I couldn't let my wife make such a sacrifice. I couldn't be so insensitive to my wife's needs. I just couldn't.
In the end, I actually could.

My wife also had, and still has, no problem torturing me with her music.

Michael Picarella is a Valencia resident and a proud husband and father. To contact Picarella or to read more stories, go to His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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