I love music…..any kind of music….i love music….just as long as it…..
– The O’Jays
Its hard to argue with those lyrics, isn’t it?
I recently wrote a piece about all that is wrong with the music business. I have received so many nice comments from people all over the world. I appreciate everyone of them. Today I write a little bit more about music hoping to help remind us all of why music is so important.
Like you, I love music. I’ve traveled the world and met a lot of people during my journey. I’ve met people who don’t like baseball; people who don’t like basketball. I’ve hung out with people who make fun of NASCAR fans; some who don’t’ like football. But, I have never met anyone that doesn’t love music.
Try it. Ask anyone you meet on the street, a bus, a train, or sitting in the airport. Ask the person in the cube next to you. Ask them, “do you like music?”.
100% of them (guaranteed) will say yes.
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like music. But why do we all love music? What is it about music that we love? Do we all love the same thing about it?
The answer is no. Just like a fingerprint, our music tastes and our reasons for loving music, differ from person to person.
Some say music moves us. Some say it connects us, transforms us, challenges us, makes us move, makes us laugh, makes us cry, reminds us of a time in our life (a mile marker in life). Some say music helps us advance our culture, that the art is what keeps a culture vital. All of these things are true, I guess.
I’m interested in why people love music. What is it about music that makes it so important to our lives? I’m curious. These are the things that I think about when I step away from my work, blackberry, iphone, and Facebook account.
I love music. I can’t tell you why. I am not sure that I can explain its power to take me to places I need to see, hear and most importantly feel. I don’t know how to play an instrument (one of my greatest personal failures to date – there is still time!).
A good friend of mine recently asked me to join in on a conversation. The topic – what is the greatest song of all time?
This is an impossible question to answer. There is no one greatest song. Yeah, Rolling Stone can do their ranking and publish it in their magazine but it doesn’t really mean anything. There are thousands of “best song ever” recordings. There are also thousands of songs that would tie for second place. The bottom line – the question is unanswerable.
However, there are things that when added up, provide depth and meaning to the question of why we love music.
Here are a few things I love about it. Maybe you’ll find a thing or two in here that remind you of why you love it too. I’d love to know what those are.
The strange places Radiohead’s Weird Fishes takes me. The picture they paint of the bottom of the ocean.
The haunting, beautiful voice of Beth Orton as she sings Ooh Child
Joni Mitchell singing River.
Remembering how excited Sonya Kitchell was when she released her first record, and having the opportunity to somehow help a new artist on her journey.
Motown – all of it
Hearing the passion and intensity in the soft, intimate songs of a new artist named Elizaveta Khripounova.
Meg Hutchinson singing Seeing Stars
Bob Marley’s Redemption Song
James Taylor singing You Can Close Your Eyes – perhaps the greatest lullaby of all time. I can’t listen to it without thinking about my girls and having the hint of a tear in my eye.
Son Volt’s funky little southern rock tunes like Tear Stained Eye or Windfall
Seeing Dire Straits in London.
Van Morrison’s great songs like Tupelo Honey or Into the Mystic
Meeting James Taylor and have him tell us why he loves Pittsfield, Massachusetts
(He met his wife there).
Rilo Kiley and their interesting lead singer Jenny Lewis singing Portions For Foxes
The funny little beat to some of Jason Mraz’s songs. I want to not like him but it’s hard to deny his strange little way of delivering a pop song
The beauty of Norah Jones’ beautiful voice as she sings Roll On with the Little Willies.
Anything by the Beatles
Watching my 10 year old daughter play saxophone in her 5th grade band with tears in my eyes.
Sarah McLaughlin’s beautiful voice singing when I fell in love with my wife Allie.
Watching my 12 year old daughter dance to Stevie Wonder’s Superstition.
Getting to know people like Joel Katz, Alan Mintz, Gene Rumsey, Paddy Spinks, Jon Cohen, Rob Stone, and so many others who taught me so many things.
Bob Marley singing Stir It Up (listening to it as I write this entry)
Remembering when I sold Coke’s at Tampa Stadium when I was 13 years old so I could sneak into see people like Pink Floyd, Led Zep, & Jethro Tull.
The driving drum beat of Radiohead’s There There. Its building intensity.
Playing foosball with a few friends from my old neighborhood when I was 15years old listening to Led Zep, the Alman Brothers, Molly Hatchett, and The Outlaws as the soundtrack.
Beck’s constant reinterpretation of himself.
Hearing Neil Young sing Old Man
The Outlaws concert when I was 15 or 16 at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg on New Year’s Eve. Singing Green Grass And High Tides Forever at the top my lungs with my friends
Van Morrison’s Into The Mystic and Tupelo Honey – always reminds me exactly why I love music.
Being one of only 4 white people at a rufus & chakka kahn, and Brothers Johnson show at the Lakeland Civic Center when i was a kid.
Watching my daughters from my rear view mirror in the car as they sing along with jack Johnson’s Bubble Toes.
Wooden Ships from Crosby, Stills, & Nash – unbelievable guitar solo, and a nice story.
Laughing every time David Gray comes on and listening to my daughter ask if this is the guy who sounds like a lamb.
Citizen Cope’s song Son’s Gonna Rise. Santana pitches in on this track. Sweet.
The Rolling Stones singing Dead Flowers. One of the best F-U songs of all time.
Remembering how great it felt to hear a song you helped to produce appear in a national television commercial.
One Love by Bob Marley – a song of great hope. If only it would come true.
Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb
John Hiatt’s Slow Turning
The dust bowl at Bonnaroo – listening to My Morning Jacket at 2am
Kanye West sampling Chakka Kahn on Through The Wire
Never forgetting the first time I saw Radiohead live. How it literally changed my perspective on what music is and can be. A transformative moment for me. No joke.
A new voice – Meiko and her single Boys With Girlfriends.
Lyrics like “Music is the healing force of the world”…….said the O’Jays
Watching Beck play a song with a Gameboy plugged into an amp at Coachella.
R.E.M.’s energy and passion to not follow the status quo in the 80’s, taking us to a new place.
Meeting Paul McCartney and having him show me baby pictures of his daughter Beatrice. One of the most surreal moments of my entire life.
The Postal Service’s song Such Great Heights.
Being at the Camden Palace when I was a junior in college the night Herbie Hancock filmed his video for “Rock It” and then meeting him 20 years later and sharing the story with him.
iTunes and my iPod
The Foo Fighters sense of humor
Jaydiohead – a mash up of Jay-Z and Radiohead. Not the greatest mix but absolutely mind blowing how someone can create a mix of two such diverse and interesting artists.
Attending Live Aid in London so many years ago.
Ben Fold’s Landed – another guy you don’t really want to like but have a hard time putting your finger on why not.
The intelligent quirkiness of Weezer
The Red Hot Chili Peppers and their longevity; and their love for life in southern California.
The Cure’s song Just Like Heaven, remembering hanging out with a few friends at the Phyrst in Tallahassee.
Seeing Bruce Springsteen on his Born In The USA tour in Milan and Munich
Laughing out loud watching the puppets perform during the Beck show at Bonnaroo.
Nic Harcourt, KCRW, and Sounds Eclectic
My first Grateful Dead show.
My last Grateful Dead show many years later.
Smoking a cigarette with Joni Mitchell the night our label released her album Shine. Just me and Joni Mitchell standing next to each other talking about music. A moment I will never forget.
Having my point of view about U2 completely changed when I saw them live. They blew me away.
South by Southwest – hanging out at Stubbs eating bbq, drinking a cold beer, and seeing more than 50 shows in a week.
Meeting Radiohead’s managers in their Oxfordshire office; drinking vodka and tonics with them in the middle of the afternoon at The Swan pub.
Hating Coldplay. Yes, music also evokes feelings like this.
Social Distortion covering Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire during an acoustic performance. Watching a hard core surf punk band play an acoustic set, actually punking punk…and watching the people around me not get the significance of what was happening.
These are but a few of the broadly diverse things that define my love for music. I write these down in hopes that my children will read them someday. When they do I want them to understand the importance of music in my life. And, my hope is that as they go through theirs they will share this deep love through experiences of their own.
What do you love about music? Take some time sometime soon to remind your self why you love music. Once you do, please do something positive to keep music alive, remembering it is vital to our culture. Do something for our kids. Support them playing an instrument, forming a garage band, banging on a drum kit, singing in the chorus at school or the choir at church. Remind others of its importance. Share with others why you love it. Use music to start a conversation with someone you don’t know.
Music can (and will) save us from ourselves and from the mess that surrounds us.
Use music to escape, to find inner peace. Remember why you love music and you will find it.
Yes, music makes us all a little bit better.