Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Music And Me

I've been thinking a lot lately about music and how I relate to it in my everyday life. It seems these days in order for me to focus on any task, I need to have some sort of music going in the background. Depending on what I am doing, it can be something as chill as St. Germain, as energized as New Order, or as profound as this guy whom I've mentioned a couple times in previous blogs (and who is currently grinding away in the background as I type this).

I read somewhere once that "music enriches us all, and the seeds for appreciating it are planted in childhood". Based on my own experience, I do firmly believe this statement to be 100% true. My parents - my father especially - laid a solid foundation early on for music appreciation. My dad still grooves to the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Elvis. He also digs folk music - the Chad Mitchell Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary. And he LOVES showtunes...don't even play Red and Black around him or he will happily serenade you. When my mom was younger she certainly had an appreciation for folk and classical music; then again, she also had a "thing" for John Denver. If she were a teenager, it would have been akin to a massive crush on a teen pop idol, a la Leif Garrett. I vividly recall once on one of our many car trips between DC and NH we took during the 80s, a radio station somewhere in Connecticut played Calypso. My otherwise "keep in turned down to a nice, pleasant decibel level lest you ruin your delicate ear drums" mother, nearly drove us off the road reaching for the volume control, proceeded to jack it up to full blast and sang along at the top of her lungs. When the song was over, she literally begged the radio to play it again. It was a bit frightening actually. However, it does drive home my point that music can have an amazingly profound impact on the listener. It can reach down into your soul and pull something out that you otherwise keep hidden away.

I've been to many a music show in my day - from huge stadium rock concerts, to orchestral/ symphonic presentations in world-class concert halls, to funky jazz jams in back-alley clubs, to down and dirty hip-hop and reggae performances at smaller, local venues. The music may vary, but the emotion it provokes is a common theme no matter the genre. You can see it in the audiences' faces, in their body language, the way they bop their head to the rhythm, tap their feet in time to the music. Human beings are organically predisposed to respond to music. The fortunate few among us who possess the gift to create music are to be regarded as modern-day heralds, calling out to the masses to rejoice in their inherent passion.

Do you remember the first album you ever bought? Mine was AC/DC, "For Those About To Rock". Seriously. I loved it - played it over and over again. I wish I still had it. I would play it now. I was 10 when I bought that record. Three years later, I hit puberty and subsequently discovered the perpetual boy band and it was all pop, all the time, until I was introduced to the pleasures of funk and jazz while in college. From there, my tastes gradually evolved into the eclectic mix they are today. My preferences vary depending on my mood...ambient, funk, soul, rap, country, jazz, pop, electronic, grime, even house and trance. I always say I will listen to anything once. More than likely, I will listen more than once, and usually grow to like everything I hear. I view the whole musical experience as a lesson in acceptance and tolerance. I believe that shutting yourself off to entire genres - to the point where some people won't even walk through the loathed section in the store - is contrary to human nature and doesn't allow one to grow in mind, body and soul. What upsets me more are those people that do not allow music into their lives, because they are too busy letting in misery and negativity and are incapable of enjoying the relief that music will bring them. I am sad to report my mother has become one of those people. Ironically, it was around the time that John Denver passed away, when the music died for her.

My hope for my mother, and others like her, is they will one day feel again the good vibrations, allow themselves to tap their feet, and open their hearts and minds to the possibilities that music presents...whether the message being expressed is one of joy or sorrow, life or death, love or loss.

Music is Life.

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