While writing posts about songs on the radio that stick with me but do not compel me to purchase them (or their albums), I have been thinking about how many songs used to enter my life that way. Before songs could be easily shared, before a single song could be downloaded, if you liked a song, but didn’t love it, and you didn’t have a lot of money, you only heard it on the radio.
And, as I have made clear in earlier posts, some songs are only ok until you hear them 100 times. Then, suddenly, you like them. They become part of your life’s sound track. And, if you spend a lot of time driving and listen only to one radio station (because those were primitive times and cars only had radios, no tape decks or cd players), even songs you only liked a little became a part of your life.
The underrated but awesome show Freaks and Geeks is what really introduced my brother to the Grateful Dead, even if he was lucky enough to see Jerry Dawg himself with our dad back in the early 1990’s. I have talked before about my love for the band and why they represent some of my happier years in life, those hazy days of college. But my brother has long maligned it as “stupid stoner music” if I remember his words correctly. He has maintained this position in our years-running argument on the band with almost no give. This is not true brother and I hope I can open your eyes as to why or at least explain why I so love the band.
I learned from the internet that the internet is abounding in tributes to Neil Armstrong. Other than the fact that I cannot bear not to be part of such an important trend (sarcasm, of course), I have to be honest: this might upset me more than the passing of Whitney Houston.
Does the world need another Neil Armstrong tribute? Do I have anything to say to add to or improve upon the many wonderful (and true) things that have been said?
(I need to be heard, dammit)
Now this has little to do with music, but everything to do with memory. We live in a world of increasingly fragmented realities where the man who stands respected far and wide is a rarer breed. On that count alone, Armstrong’s passing should be noted.
Go ahead you can laugh all you want I got my philosophy Keeps my feet on the ground And I trust it like the ground That’s why my philosophy Keeps me walking when I’m falling down
–Ben Folds Five
Songs of the Year: “Super Bon Bon,” Soul Coughing; “Bury Me,” Guster
Runners-up: “Philosophy”, Ben Folds Five; “Stickshifts and Safetybelts,” Cake
Honorable Mentions: “Firestarter,” The Prodigy; “Tubthumper”, Chumbawumba; “Hypnotize,” Notorious B. I. G.
In 1997, I went to college. I had the grandest of opportunities to re-invent myself. In life, rare are the occasions when you can literally trade in your old mask for a new one. So, I changed my clothes (a little); I broke up with a girl over Limp Bizkit and I went off to conquer the world.
I’ve been thinking a lot about a conversation with my brother that I had about two separate musical things that are somehow related. The first had to do with the fact that he didn’t like prog rock because there was too much going on and the second with how you didn’t have to be a gifted musician to be an good artist. For the former, we talked about Yes and how they played too many notes so he couldn’t hear the melody. I’ve really been digging this song.
I know nothing about the band except that they are from Colorado. It’s very simple, very few notes, and concise in what it’s trying to do. I love the basic ” ho hey” refrain throughout the song. I imagine this song being sung around a campfire and everyone smiling. It’s the best time of year in the Northeast with the onset of Indian Summer. Hot days, warm nights and the greatest weather in the world in my opinion. So, all of these things propel me to love this jam. This song is one I listen to a shitty alternative station for two hours to hear. For two minutes and forty two seconds of music, one may wonder whether the juice is worth the squeeze. I would say it certainly is. This is a band I will be checking out and hoping they release more stuff.
On a final note on this, it is the Elder J’s birthday today. The thirties are taking over and 40 is rapidly approaching. I hope we can actually be with on another on one of these birthdays so we can have a few beers and argue about stuff. I miss not having you close by brother and I look forward to the day we are not so far away. Rather than play a unique version of “Happy Birthday”, which I took considerable time to research on, I will just include as a musical conclusion what I think is close to your favorite song. Happy Birthday Elder J!
The Historian’s recent entry on his paper-route playlist and my brother’s musings on his forced music choices reminded me of a list of my own I started a while back. See, he and I are both older than our years. All of us who went to high school (and part of college) before google, before Napster, and before cell phones or text messages, keep part of ourselves in a world wholly foreign to siblings and cousins a mere five years younger. It is strange how time moves that much faster.
My brother and I have had many jobs. Music can truly determine whether or not a job is good or complete torture. Every job I’ve had where you can’t listen to music at least some of the time has sucked and doesn’t deserve mention here. This will be at least a two-part post because as I’ve said, I’ve had many jobs.
Before I dive into this topic, I just want to reiterate how much music can shape an experience. Obviously we write this blog because we love music and those who read it must feel the same or else they just read it to mock us. It’s amazing how good music can make a shitty situation not only bearable but actually fun. It is yet another example of the transcendent nature of quality tunes.
In the late 1990s a young female artist burst onto the aging and stale alt-rock scene. She had a chesty-jazz inspired voice (contrasting with the heady and weaker voices of the Joan Osbornes, Alanis Morrisettes and Jewels of the world). She was young and pretty. Her music was bold and surprising. And she may have been a little crazy.
A Note from the Elder J: Today we bring you a guest post (the first of a series) from our friend Professor Mortis who by day plies his trade with information and books and by night terrorizes the world by bringing the dead (movies) back to life (he has a great blog, if you don’t read it, you should). He has appeared in blog posts before as the Historian and he made an indelible (and at times uncleanable) impression on my life when we were roommates as young cubs. And, besides, Who doesn’t love cross-over episodes?
When the elder and younger js started this blog, the elderj offered me the chance to do a guest post or two. I think we both assumed it would be a crossover post. I write about movies, he writes about music, so wouldn’t a post about great film soundtracks, or great uses of popular music in film, or even, hell, a list of the best Bond theme songs be perfect? I thought of reviving an old post that I started for my blog, “Music to Kick Ass to”, about songs that ran through my head during matches when I all too briefly took up Judo again a few years back. I was walking one day, and a couple of songs came up on my phone that pulled me immediately back to my days as a paper boy. A completely different idea occurred to me, which took root in my consciousness and demanded to be written.
(Fair Warning: this post is not that light-hearted)
Music, keyed in to moments, becomes the catalyst that bares open long pathways of memory. Music can recall that which is almost lost. The problem is that music can’t always be directed; it can open passages you wanted to keep closed. It can shed light on feelings and thoughts best left for the dark. Often, music you like can do this; but since memory is something we don’t control, it is as often that music you don’t like (or don’t like for cause) brings out the real pain.