Last night I attended a family dinner with three different parts of the family (parents and two different aunts + assorted cousins). It was definitely a lot of fun, I don’t have a huge family and don’t get too many evenings like this. I enjoyed it. During the evening music was playing, what music played and when it played formed the idea for this blog post.
My cousin was on a mission to play her father’s ipod, and to play the songs that her father liked. I sensed some of that was not as much a music thing and more a father daughter thing. That’s totally cool, but I still found it interesting the songs they chose. They went on and on about songs from the 60’s and 70’s that they loved. Now our tastes in music are a bit different to say the least. I think 60s and 70s = Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. But to them it was other bands that I’d heard of but not really “heard” a lot. Most of the songs were classic “oldies” quick and easy to listen to songs about sock-hops and other friendly concepts. Easy to listen to.. Easy Listening. I guess that’s one reason our music tastes differ.
Its not that they have bad taste, well bad taste per-se I guess is more accurate, its probably that we just listen very differently. I’ve been playing guitar now for about four years, and a lot of what I listen to has to do with my guitar playing. I like songs that have a big emphasis on guitars, and ideally a solo or two. So bands like Zeppelin and Black Sabbath are perfect for me, I especially love the part in the live version of Stairway where Jimmy Page just gets lost in his solo. He’s in his own world, the listeners just happen to be there witnessing the tonal magic as it’s weaved.
This post is about discovery and opinions. I’m saying that to me, for my ears Zeppelin and Sabbath are better than the music my Uncle and cousin were listening to. However I’m also listening as a guitar player. Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same that was recorded in NYC in the 70’s is magic for me because I can relate to the sensation of playing like that – read that as I can dream of playing like that, you won’t see me in MSG anytime soon. Just watch the dvd or blu ray of this show and you’ll see what I mean. Zeppelin is on the money on this night, playing like its just the band. I’m coming from a different place when listening, the music is speaking to me differently.
I think for many music means memories. You hear a song for the first time and whatever is going on in your life at that time is encoded in the memory of the song. So in the future when you hear that song again you relive that memory – whether painful or joyus. And while true for me as well, I often find that if I turn up the volume in the car just a few notches past socially acceptable levels: I can get totally lost in the music, I can get lost in the story that the guitar players are trying to tell with their six strings.
There’s an amazing amount of incredible music to listen to this way. Many Heavy Metal bands that have a melodic component are incredibly musical. Their songs are rich with music theory and the application their of. These songs are not easy to listen to, far from it. They require participation. Thats what I love about them. But not everyone agrees.
My uncle also said that he refuses to listen to any music recorded after 1978. Gasp.. Horror.. Shock… No music after ’78? Do you realize that you’ve just eliminated all of Metallica’s music? As a huge metallica fan that’s unfathomable, but there’s so many other incredible songs in that time period too.. How many of us have danced and partied to 80s songs while in college? For him for my uncle songs and music is about memories. Its not about the musical theory, the chord progressions, passing tones or modes & scales at play. And that’s ok, its interesting and its fascinating the different reasons and ways that music speaks to us.
I write to understand. Not to inform. Writing is a way that I process my thoughts. So If you’re now wondering what was my point, what did I want you know? Well I’m excited that you’re reading; thank you. I think if anything for this post my message is this. Pick a song, any song and listen to it with the volume turned up. Preferably a song that you’d normally not listen to. If you’re not a metal fan, try a metallica song. Try my favorite: Fade To Black.