A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
There are any number of red flags that tell us we are getting old. One of the most tried and true is when you find yourself thinking or saying, "Man - the music kids listen to today is nothing but noise".
Well I'll admit it. I frequently find myself thinking this about much of the contemporary music I hear. Sometime I will blog on what I believe constitutes good music, why I believe much of today's music is junk, and what I think our youth are missing out on because of it.
The great beauty of an I-Pod is that it only plays what you put on it. It allows you to listen to a parade of your all-time favorites from any era or genre, and thus simultaneously serves as a filter against all the music you DON'T want to hear. Great music elevates us in so many ways. It can create images or remind us of specific times, places, and individuals in our lives. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony conjures scenes ranging from hellfire and brimstone to a gentrified canter in the English countryside. Though it was nearly forty years ago, I can still remember where I was and what I was doing the first time I heard Paint it Black by The Stones. I can still feel the sweat rolling down my face as I back-packed the ascent to Gunsight Pass in Glacier National Park, listening to Song for America by Kansas.
I try to listen to much of the music our daughter likes, both to create connections and to ensure she is not getting into something innappropriate. And sometimes - EUREKA - we actually hit on something we BOTH like. She has grudgingly admitted to liking Neil Young and Van Morrison, and a couple of weeks ago, we hit pay dirt again with the song Wish List by Pearl Jam.
I was driving her to school, and I played it a few times as we learned the lyrics and sang together. At the heart of great modern songs is the rhythm guitar. Wish List opens with a gentle but insistent chord that builds and changes hue throughout the song. The lead guitar gently chimes in, sounding almost like church bells. The lyrics are tremendous; some whimsical and evocative, others more serious and relational. All of them speak to things the singer has on his "wish list". Edie Veder's voice is the piston that drives all Pearl Jam songs - a rich baritone with a smoky edge, honed in the bars and clubs of Seattle.
So now this song is another that will trip the gears of my memory back to a specific event. I will always recall that drive to school when I hear the song, and always treasure what Lauren said to me when both the song and the ride came to an end.
Instant recall of some of our finest and fondest moments.
Building bridges across generations.
That's just some of what great music can do.