Closing the Bar

After a long night of customer complaints, exhausting drink making, overbearing managers, and intense servers, a good playlist of music is necessary to keep a level head. After all of the customers have left, I usually spend more than an hour cleaning the bar. I always take a pair of headphones that allow me to listen to music while I am cleaning. Usually, Pandora or another music service provides my musical accompaniment. However, this particular playlist that I have created will now be a part of every closing shift.

Working as a bartender usually finds a wide range of emotions. Throughout any numbers of hours per shift, I will become angry, happy, exhausted, despaired, anxious, excited, and amped. With this much emotion flying through my head, music is almost a necessity to maintain some sanity. Even though I may be tired, too much adrenaline is usually rushing through my body, and rock music is the first type of music my body would require.

My father raised me on classic and arena rock. Bands such as Queen, Van Halen, and Styx were some of my earlier loves. Even though lyrics are important in this type of music, I never really paid much attention to the words. Introducing me to the basics of rock music, my father told me that the bass and percussion was the driving force. While the percussion and bass keeps the rhythm and beat, the lead guitarist would provide a melody. This seems like the very simplest of technical music at its core, however, I have found that rock music provides a grungy, upbeat tempo that makes me want to work harder and faster. My body movements become quickened and more energized with each pounding of the bass drum. The adrenaline allows me to fuel an energized, more thorough cleaning process.

The tempo of rock music is usually faster and causes a great deal of foot tapping and head bobbing. So much energy fills my body as I clean efficiently, while the loud, boisterous rock fills my ears. Unfortunately, that much adrenaline will eventually cause a crash, and the body will yearn for something softer while maintaining the same energy. This is where classical music would make the most sense.

I think of each classical piece of music like a drawn out Shakespearean play. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor is a perfect example of such a comparison. Each movement of Beethoven’s Symphony is like a separate story that is told with different feelings. After ending on an apex with the rock music, the classical music tells a wonderful story that culminates in a perfect description of my feelings at the end of a shift. My head is usually torn between an array of emotions, and I can lose myself into the reality of the music. A numbness accompanies the weariness after a long shift, and the dynamic nature of classical music helps tone down the apathy.

The full spectrum of tonality can be heard throughout Beethoven’s Symphony. A modest lament can be heard in the second movement, as the timbre sounds of the trumpets rings out over the strings and the rising action rears its head. The climactic third act applies equal focus on the strings, the brass, the woodwinds, and the drums. Each type of instrument complements the others as the music becomes syncopated and jolted. The contradiction between all of them is enough to rattle things around inside the head, and cleaning the bar takes on a whole new meaning.

Growing closer to finishing the bar, the perfect music to round out the evening is jazz. Jazz has always been my biggest love, and I could not imagine ending a playlist without it. Strangely enough, jazz has a way of settling my mind in a way that no other music satisfies. Even though certain types of jazz can be chaotic, syncopated, frenzied, and muddled. The music relaxes my soul enough to calm the dynamism pushing me through the night.

Each song in this playlist is specific to how I feel at the end of a night. Starting off with an adrenaline rush, rock music injects a sense of overzealous energy. Once that adrenaline dies, classical music provides the arcing transition between a hyped shift and a resting finish. Finishing off the evening is some hectic renditions of jazz music. The jazz provides a calming response to the overwhelming exhaustion of a full shift. Without music, cleaning the bar would be a tedious task that only further shatters my already weary body.

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