I have an addiction, and it's music.
I love to listen to it. I love to think about it. I love to talk about it. I love to challenge myself with it. I love to look at it. I love to look for it.
Music borders on obsession for me, and in some cases it does more than border obsession. If it involves my favorite groups, I am admittedly obsessed with the music. The Beatles? The Beach Boys? Queen? Pink Floyd? Weezer? You can name dozens of groups and individual artists ... I dig their stuff, and I jump in head first.
I love music for a lot of reasons. It's always there. It changes when you change, but it never loses its former meanings. Your appreciation can change, but the memories and what the music meant to you can stay with you. Music can evolve, as can your appreciation for it. It is an old friend and a new friend, all at once.
And that goes for individual tracks, not just music as a genre.
I can remember listening to the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" with headphones on when I was 15, and how I felt about it (it is such an odd Beatles song, so far from "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me," while totally different from "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Back in the USSR" too; I thought it sounded so rootsy, almost bluesy, with restraint and a groove that sounds so adult compared to "She Loves You").
How do I feel about it now? I think it's an odd Beatles song, so far from "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me." But I don't think it's so different from "Strawberry Fields Forever" anymore. I get the autobiographical tone that fills both "A Hard Day's Night" and "Strawberry Fields Forever," and I can see a natural progression in musical development and an appreciation for roots rock that tie "Night" to "Back in the USSR."
See what I mean? New appreciation, new feeling, but a remembrance for the old feelings and a love that remains despite the years and growth.
Much has been written by better thinkers, more poetic tongues, more musical talents, all about the beauty and the power and the benefit of music. Through it all, no one can really describe the awesome power of music. No one can definitively capture its might, its beauty, its ability to bring people together and heal.
That, by itself, makes music so special. It's so elusive, so multi-faceted. There are so many cultures that make so many different kinds of music. Different instruments, different genres, different tastes. Isn't that cool? Seriously, isn't that cool?
When I was 16, I decided I needed to be a musician. I wanted to be a songwriter. I wanted to be a rock star. I wanted to be a serious Artist (note the capital "A"). As much as I wish I could sing (and as hard as I do try to sing in the car, in the shower or in rooms where I'm alone ...), I just flat-out stink in that regard. No singing for me. So, at the very least, I wanted to be the guiding light of a music group. I wanted to be the dude who wrote great songs, important songs, catchy songs and beloved songs.
As you're reading some low-key blog and not listening to some fantastic music that was created by me, you can guess how far I got. It's not a new story, you can throw an electronic tuner in a room and hit some aspiring musician.
I got my first real guitar when I was 16. My brother and I worked for a summer at Boy Scout camp to save up money to get guitars. I got an Epiphone Les Paul sunburst guitar like the one pictured above. I had three different "learn how to play guitar" guides, and a couple "play along with the CD" sets. AND I bought some early computer software that would give instructions AND would transcribe stuff I played so I could "write" my own music.
And I really, really sucked at it. My chief problem was that I didn't have the patience to keep working at it. It didn't come naturally, and my finger dexterity (heh, more like the lack thereof) made practicing even simple scales frustrating and tedious. I could pick out a few simple tunes, but nothing exciting or inspiring or cool. I expected to soar quickly. I figured that I loved music so much that it'd just somehow come to me.
Ah, foolish youth.
Then I picked up a bass guitar (a cheap black-and-white Squire that looks classy, like a real Fender). I was a little better at that. Picking out bass notes came easier, and didn't require as much finger dexterity (the bass strings are spaced farther apart and many great rock songs don't require complex patterns). The problem with becoming a great bass player was that I wasn't "musical" enough to remember songs. I never really learned to read sheet music. Keeping track of strings and notes and chords ... Too much for my limited patience, I'm afraid.
Music, in a nutshell, is hard. Beautiful, gratifying, soul fulfilling, healing, amazing, inspiring, fun, sad, angry, exhilarating ... and hard. I think music is humanity's greatest creation, God's greatest gift, whatever your religious bend is. Music can console, music can remind, music can incite.
I love it. :)
I may not be able to play it or write it, but I still treasure music and feel enriched by it. And I respect those individuals who CAN write/play. (Well, many of them anyway. Hacks are always hacks, whether they are writers or lawyers or musicians, etc.)
So being a great musician, writing the next great songs, the next important songs, I'll leave all of that to others who are far more talented and qualified. And I'll just buy their stuff and listen and appreciate it.
That's what I do.
A lot of people come to my blog, searching for downloads. People are looking for links to rapidshare or mediafire or filesonic. Lots of folks want the music I write about, not necessarily the words I write about that music. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" or The Beach Boys' "The SMiLE Sessions" attract download seekers, and I get that. It's all great music, with people who want to find out what the big deal is. Or they are people who don't have the CDs with them and want to download stuff to their work computers so they have something great to listen to while they earn their paychecks. Or they want to fill in cracks in their collections. Or whatever. It's none of my business.
As every visitor has undoubtedly noticed by this point, I don't offer downloads. It's not a judgmental thing. I don't necessarily condone downloading music, but I don't deplore those who do it.
I try to put into words my feelings on music, but sometimes I go for vague summations. I give pat observations on occasion. Sometimes I think music speaks for itself. I try to back that up with YouTube links so people CAN listen to the music. And I hope and pray people who have never heard the music give it a chance. Also, I'd dearly love to get feedback ... discussion, debate, agreement, disagreement, whatever.
I think music deserves discourse. All music. Even music I dislike. Music is a great shared experience. Even when you listen alone, you are sharing the music with the artists who perform it (and the composers).
I own more than a thousand albums, and have heard at least a thousand more. I buy a lot of music each month (just ask my wife). My tastes vary quite a bit, from Bach to Beatles, from the Dixie Chicks to Bob Dylan, from Weezer to "Weird Al" Yankovic, from Three Dog Night to They Might Be Giants, from Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana to Radiohead and the Rolling Stones. Monkees? Definitely. Arcade Fire? Very much so. Eminem? Yup. Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons, AC/DC, Talking Heads, Green Day ... Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band ...
All of that, and more.
That's not to brag. That's just me saying, man, I love music. :)
I own a SpongeBob SquarePants CD. I own at least 100 records (vinyl, LPs), not counting singles. I even own some 78 RPM records, and a lot of record players won't even play THOSE these days. I've met Brian Wilson (the genius behind the Beach Boys) and gotten an album signed. I've got bootlegs upon bootlegs upon bootlegs. And I've got more music DVDs than my local library.
Again, this isn't bragging ... Music is just important to me, and I surround myself with it.
Presumably, music is important to you, too. You're on a music blog. If you've read this far, you have read that I don't share downloads so you must have been at least a little curious about what I had to say. Bless you for that. I invite you to share your thoughts, too. I welcome you to share them here.
I love music so much, I put a lot of time into just writing about it. I'm not particularly gifted at expressing myself musically. As I wrote above, I bombed out on playing instruments and I can't sing. But I'm always going to try to put in words just how music affects me, and why ... because music engages listeners and deserves a response, in some form or another. Whether it's tapping your feet, playing some awesome air guitar when you think no one is looking, bopping your head to the beat or humming along ... or writing on some blog,
While it's unlikely you'll ever see me write an entry about a Britney Spears album or an album on pan pipes or anything purely techno ... I won't judge those who embrace that music.
Because music is varied. Music fans are varied. Music means different things to different people at different times. And how one feels about music one day may not reflect how one feels about the music the next day. Tastes change, opinions change ... And music is always there to cover all the bases.
What a blessing. What a miracle.
Music, ain't it great?
Time to wrap this long, self-absorbed entry up. I hope to hear from you folks, on this topic or any others that strike your music-related fancy.
Have a good one!