Why I cried like a little baby at age 24

People who know me really well have me pegged as a cantankerous person, not easily moved – or at least too stubborn to show it.

They’re right. But why?

My high intelligence prevents me from publicly showing the emotion

Wow – that’s obscenely conceited. Here’s what I mean:

I am very aware of “normal” – and it is boring.
Even being “suitably unconventional” is boring. I’m too intelligent for that, or so I think. Crying, for an adult, is occasionally normal – even offensive if it doesn’t occur at the right stimilus, like watching Shindler’s List or losing a pet.

So here’s a story to prove two things: 1) that my armor is not as impregnable as people think and 2) that I too can be oh-so-boring:


1998, Amherst, MA

I spent my first semester in grad school at UMass Amherst studying music composition privately with Sal Macchia. He was a great teacher. I was working on this 8-minute piece for small mixed rock-ish ensemble – double reed winds, 2 soprano voices, guitar/acoustic bass/drums. It had been in my head for years. I now was mature enough to execute on it.

After finishing I arranged a reading of it with a pick-up band made of student players. I could only get one singer – this undergrad diva (you see it coming, dontcha?) named something-or-other (can’t remember). She came into the rehearsal room with an attitude. I’d given her a week to look through her part. I told her she’d have to sing through a mic. Well, her attitude was evident to everyone throughout. When I couldn’t hear her sing above the rest of the ensemble, I nicely tried to move the mic closer to her. She gave that look like “excUUUSE me?”

Though unsettling, the rehearsal overall was good enough to outweigh her dissapointing attitude. I had proved to my acoustic ears that my inner ears had composed the right piece of music (I wrote this piece without aid of an instrument – all in the head, like a big boy).

The next day, she left her score in my campus mailbox, with a note complaining that the piece “was very deceiving” and some other unkind stuff. I didn’t even know what “deceiving” meant – was she complaining that it wasn’t like the light and gay opera music she normally sings? My teacher Sal thought that she meant “deceivingly difficult” or something. But he was just trying to be nice. He agreed she was a useless no-talent hack (she certainly wasn’t) to sooth my pouty mood.

So when the bus dropped me off at my stop that afternoon, and I walked the 2 miles up Leverett Road to my and my wife’s basement apartment in the country, I started pouting, then flat out crying. Ugh. And there’s no psycho-babble theory I can quote you to explain why I cried – no complex “adult” weave of emotions that justify an adult crying. My feelings were hurt, and I cried. Like a little baby.

But I’m not sure I wouldn’t react the same now. Its different when someone disses your creation. I take unfathomable amounts of crap now every day at work – but it rolls off me because its just a job. And arguably my job, in large part, is to take crap and react calmly. But that’s work. Music is personal.


Now you may ask: What the heck does this have to do with me?

I’ve come a long way since then and I’m devoting every waking free work hour I have  that’s not eaten up by a job or a family member to creating exciting & perturbing new music for you, my fans. Its a journey that has been bumpy and I just want to ask you one favor as you join this exclusive club of crazies: be kind – I hurt easily 🙂

I want you t hear my most recent milestone in that journey: click hear listen to ‘Super Brain’.

Talk to you soon

~Ben

  • jftaiii

    That’s a story to be proud of. One of a kind. It’s been told before a hundred times but sounds fresh.
    Yeah, right on. Now streaming Young Turks.
    Gonna be an a-hole for a bit.
    4 stars man.
    Only gets better.

    I Married a Prostitute
    So true.
    Got a Zappa and Rush vibe to it.
    Ben, will give it a song or two.
    Thanks for the gift and power of absolute thinking.
    Not the bling with glitters and gold that comes in an expensive bottle.
    Cheap! $1 each will buy some in a month or two.
    Aquino, Jiro (NO RELATION TO CURRENT PRESIDENT. Someone please get it over with announce it on the freakin’ PA system.)

    • Ben Sommer

      Thx Jiro!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tobey.cummings Tobey Cummings

    This album has a lot of “texture” which I really liked. As for the Zappa vibe, I have to agree with jftaiii (unfortunately, I am not a big Zappa fan although you can’t argue with his originality and composition genius). Liked the nod to the Police (intended or not) with I married a prostitute (named Roxanne),a little better than I liked the tune (sorry man). I could imagine Dave Mustane singing Cadaverism. My favorite track though was Dark Grey Matter. Loved the Gregorian chant in Deo Gracias Anglia.

    • bensommer

      Thanks Tobey – can’t please everyone on every song, so I’ll take what you’re giving me!

      • http://www.facebook.com/tobey.cummings Tobey Cummings

        Don’t feel bad; I don’t love every Rush song either (but most). Cheers

  • http://www.facebook.com/tobey.cummings Tobey Cummings

    On another note, loved the podcast on Clockwork Angels. Huge Rush fan since the late 70’s. I saw them in Vegas in November and they killed it. Loved all the deep cuts they played in the first set and enjoyed all of the curious looks from some of the “fans” who only want to hear Tom Sawyer, Limelight, and Closer to the Heart (thank God they stopped playing the latter in the past several tours). Keep doing your thing man.

    • bensommer

      Thanks again.

      I love that song. It proves what a lame and agoraphobic music fan I am, that I didn’t haul my ass out to a Rush show last year!