Mad for Music
I am just mad for music. I love the stuff. It’s like tonic (with gin), for me, whether I need a little lift, an attitude adjustment, or a trance, music does it for me.
Throughout the years I have experimented with different types of music, as a listener and as, of course, a strictly recreational user. I don’t play music although I probably could if someone would invent a computer keyboard that could generate notes and make my writing musical. That would be awesome and then I could spend pretty much all day at the computer instead of just most of it.
I like to think of myself as a patron of the arts when it comes to music. I still buy CDs, I don’t download freebies (although I live-stream YouTube), I pay for Sirius XM radio, and I attend live performances fairly often. I appreciate well crafted and well performed melodic music, loud or soft, serious or silly, as long as it sounds good. I gravitate towards the music of my teen age years since it was then that music became real for me.
Before that, as a kid singing in music class and choir, I really couldn’t relate to the music and the lyrics were nonsense. Our textbooks had been in use since some time before prohibition, (I’m old but not THAT old),and I didn’t even know what a paper of pins was, although Grandma probably did. And even in fifth grade belting out “She was coming round the mountain…” was just not cool. Of course it was the cold war and school budgets were becoming less important than the national defense budget. But what a pity. All that time spent huddling under our desks in duck and cover mode and all that money to build bombs, only to agree to unilateral disarmament, (how could you Ronnie?). Imagine…we could have provided every house hold in America with a piano instead!
Music got real when I got my first album, all my own, at the age of twelve. It was never the same again. I had already been experimenting with gateway music, mostly listening to my brother Pete’s forty fives–and I did think I was cool when I learned the words to “Red Rubber Ball”. And I wasn’t embarrassed to sing it even though the lyrics still didn’t make sense. The summer my brother Peter broke up with Michelle, who we loved, I would listen to “Goodbye for the Summer” and cry like a baby. So it was beginning to make sense. This is music. This is life. Listen.
The album my brother Phil gave me for my twelfth birthday was “The Jefferson Airplane: Volunteers” album. It was something of a protest, anti-establishment themed album with a little bit of apocalyptic horror thrown in to appease the pacifists. So while my friends were singing “I think I love you…” with the Partridge Family, I was singing “we are forces of chaos and anarchy… up against the wa-all” with Grace Slick and it’s pretty much been that way ever since. The one exception was my “White Period” when I listened to nothing but Christian music for seven or eight years. It was the Eighties, so depending on your point of view, I might have missed something on mainstream music, then again, maybe not. I also voted for Ronald Reagan who probably didn’t approve of FM radio, so there you have it. (Sorry Grace.)
After my pre-adolescent baptism into the dangerous world of FM, I listened to all kinds of music: Rockabilly, Experimental Orchestrated Rock, Folk Rock to Hard Rock and everything in between. I always had a few favorites and was drawn to the Eagles/Jackson Browne/Joni Mitchell/CSN thing (the Cal stuff) and experimental listen-to-me-stoned music like Yes, Pink Floyd and Emerson Lake and Palmer. I still listen to all of them and so much more, because, at the risk of being repetitive on this blog, the music of my youth was pretty incredible.
And now, as a senior person, (OMG that’s getting too easy) I still enjoy all the same music and also more “recent” bands. Recent becomes a relative term when the decades behind you are three times as long as the likely decades in front of you so anything between 1986 and the present qualifies. But a band has to work hard at their music and create a sound that is melodic and stimulating to listen to or I’m just not that interested. And if they blend it with lyrics that are meaningful or at least interesting, that’s even better. I like Dawes and Wilco and The Imagineers and other stuff I hear on the radio and tell myself to remember that Band but seniors don’t remember stuff like that. They remember the time they got locked out of the house and had to pee so bad they had to go in the backyard and then realized there was Mr. Kivantz pruning rose bushes alongside his driveway stuff. But the band that plays that song, you know, the one about most people that you hear every time you drive to Safeway for the last three years…???
So I try to spread the love around to different stations, different CD’s, different musicians and different genres of music. My old man tends to keep the XM tuned to Deep Tracks which is cool, because who plays “Lather” anymore? Right? But I like to mix it up. It’s all good. I’m mad about it all and It all soothes that savage, I-just-watched-twenty-four-hour-news-for-an-hour–beast in me. It is generally my drug of choice, because it works so well and has so few side effects, and which, when they do occur, are minor–feet falling asleep, sore ear canals, drooling and temporary loss of hearing if you happen to take more than the recommended dosage over a twenty-four hour period. Even then, death by over dose is highly un-likely.