A million years ago, I was hanging out in a hotel room in Rome with a woman named Ann. It was the end of one of those 28-day, “if it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium” college trips to Europe and I’d holed up in Ann’s room because my actual roommate was driving me to distraction. I was 19, it was Rome, and I was depressed. Ann was older, weird, and to my eyes, a worldly guide to life beyond my sophomore year of college.
I remember her telling me about her trip to New York and her glowing review of the Broadway play, “Sunday in the Park with George” (which would later become a large influence in my life, but that’s another story.) We talked for hours about theater, writing, and music. She insisted that she didn’t listen to music, and when I asked her why, she said something that would stick with me for the next 30 years: “If you fill your head with other people’s music, how in the hell are you ever going to hear your own?”