Friday, April 11, 2014

Thoughts on Music

I've been a fan of music all my life.  It's always moved me, no matter the genre or the time when it was recorded. Really, it's genetic.  I've got a family picture from generations ago when my grandpa from Mom's side was a little boy, and the whole family was standing there, and I believe it was his dad who was holding a fiddle.  I remember my dad telling me a story once, when he was a teenager and brought home a Beatles record, and Grandpa kind of wrote it off and said "It'll all go back to country."  I was always amused by that, because it was an exercise of the generation gap in the 60's and 70's, and because in a way he was right.  Country music has always had high points in popular music, such as Garth Brooks' entry to the stage in the early 90's and of course since American Idol became a thing and focused on vocal artists.  Also when bluegrass got intertwined with pop culture when O Brother, Where Art Thou was released.  And these days we can thank Dave Grohl.

Personally, I've been involved in music since about first grade, when I wrote silly songs and got out the tape recorder just to do a recorded performance.  Then another time in 4th or 5th grade, and then in high school and beyond I got a real kick out of writing and recording songs, even if, and especially if they were goofy and ridiculous, and got my friends into it too.  There's something about telling jokes, and making music sort of play along, that's always interested me.

For years I really didn't like rap music or modern country.  Later I couldn't stand polka or reggae.  These days, I'll listen to any type of music, just because it's art in it's most expressive form.  It's crafted like writing, it's performed like acting, and it's focused on one sense but affects all of the senses.  A few years ago I bought a polka record at a thrift store for a quarter, just because.  It turned out to be a really good record and was about certain areas of life that other genres don't focus on.  It was new to me. 

You can go anywhere with music, as in it can take you anywhere.  My dad is a bluegrass musician and loves it more than any other type of music.  To me it's pure, it's about yearning, it's about love, it's about fun, it's about spiritual depth.  And learning how to play it is a challenge of it's own.  I think that's part of the reason I love metal so much, just because with both it's not hard to listen to something that's difficult to play.

I also love electronic music.  I got into it a little bit back in the big beat days when Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim, and the Chemical Brothers were topping charts.  Some of that type of music is repetitive and catchy, some of it is really complex and also difficult to learn to emulate.  I liked it, and still do, because it's great to work to.  It's great road music.  And much of it is really uplifting and energetic.

I'm also drawn to jam bands, or really anything random and complex like jazz.  Right now I'm jamming to Tripping Daisy.  They're pretty good, they can do something mellow and thoughtful and then floor it with rock energy.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, but lately some of the musical artists I grew up with are making new music.  I think it started with Limp Bizkit - they recorded their first album in a while a couple years ago.  The Beastie Boys' last album came after a long wait, as did Primus's Green Naugahyde. They Might Be Giants re-emerged after a long hiatus, as did Beck, and of course The Pixies (23 years since the last new studio recording.)

It's nice to hear new music from established artists who took some time off or did their own thing or a while.  Some I suppose do it because they're raising kids, or got tired of traveling, or maybe got hurt, or just opted for career change only to rediscover their creative side.

I say bring it on!  There's nothing wrong with some new songs and some new expression.  There are ears waiting to hear that one song that will make them love music again.  As for me, I'm loving a great deal of the new music being made by artists young and old.  Some of it sucks though.  But some of it's pretty amazing.  You gotta look for the good stuff; it's not just gonna show up when you turn on your radio.

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