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Punk Rock Proof — Or How Hearing Aids Changed my Taste in Music

I once had hearing aids that were punk rock proof. I was 17. For me, they were some of the best devices I have ever worn, mainly because they were the first that had a great noise canceling feature. Sometimes, in noisy restaurants, I would hear and understand better than my well-hearing parents and their friends. The otherwise unbearably loud chatter in the crowded restaurant was attenuated to a gentle whisper. Do not underestimate this: I, being hard of hearing, heard much better than everybody else at the table. Such joy!

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Photo credit: GothEric

But then again, I was 17. I was rebellious. I liked punk rock at that time. I am talking about bands like The Exploited or Dead Kennedys. My devices, though, turned this kind of music down. Every time, thoroughly and without hesitation. My hearing aids were every parent’s dream.

I clearly remember this one night, when I was going to some party with a friend. We were in my car, I was driving, a warm summer night, windows down and the radio up. Or actually, not that up. So I kept turning it up a little bit more in order to hear the music better. And then again, because somehow, I still could not hear it. And again — until my friend finally punched me in the side, yelling because otherwise I would not have heard him, that I please cut that out.

The following weekend, I was at the local lake with my friends and we had my portable music player with us. As there were other people around I kept the volume to a medium level — or so I thought. That is some experience when it is not the bourgeois older people who tell you to please turn it down but your very own punk friends.

It was around that time that I started listening to more melodic stuff.

I never told my parents that perhaps my hearing aids contributed more to my becoming a bit more square and integrated into mainstream society than they ever did — at least with respect to music.

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