Archive for June 25th, 2006

Music Appreciation 101

June 25, 2006


I’ve always caught crap from my brother, Ben, for my taste in music.

He’s spent hours trying to get me to expand my musical horizons. He’s called me and held the phone up to his speakers for me to listen to a song. He’s sent me songs over iChat. He’s dumped more than 1,000 songs into my iTunes library. He’s a good brother…there goes my street cred as a big sister.

But as grateful as I am for all the wonderful artists and songs that Ben has introduced me to…The Shins, Badly Drawn Boy, Nike Drake, Iron & Wine, Elliott Smith…most of it…for lack of a better word…is so sad.

Now, that’s not to say that sad is bad. It’s not. It’s great, actually! There are many days when I just gotta just pull out that hanky and introspection and crank up the maudlin!

The thing is…it’s not enough. Granted, Ben listens to some more upbeat numbers…none of which I would call particularly happy…well, maybe Ben Folds or Jamie Liddell…but not really.

Happy music…or crap (as many people lovingly refer to it)…is important too. It has its place…to create a sense of fun and silliness…to revel in the goofy joys that life brings…and, maybe most importantly, to provide a venue for connecting on a level that moves beyond heartache or sadness.

For me the happiest music is, I guess…well…schmaltzy. John Denver? Yup. Captain & Tennille? Check. The Monkees? Got it. I love the cheese. I embrace the cheese.

But I also temper the cheese.

Anyone who knows me knows two things…I love the color purple and I love Captain & Tennille.

However…if you know me a little better…you know that I don’t fill my house with purple things (maybe a toothbrush here or a keepsake box there)…and I only listen to Captain & Tennille occasionally.

Moderation is the key…afterall, one cannot live by Captain & Tennille alone.

I like to think that I’m open to all kinds of music…I may not like it but I will at least give it a listen. Though I know I tend to lean more toward the softer music…I can kick things up a notch when I’m in the mood. I like to strike a balance between Mozart and Sublime.

I love James Taylor, Elliott Smith, Ben Folds, Bread, Paul Simon, Queen, ELO, The Andrew Sisters, Vivaldi, Billy Joel, The Doobie Brothers, Squeeze, Susan Tedeschi and…just in case you haven’t been paying attention to this blog…Taylor Hicks. And these are just artists for whom I have several songs and/or albums in my iTunes Library.

There are nearly 1000 others for whom I have maybe only a handful of songs. These other artists are even more diverse: Gnarles Barkley, Bill Withers, Billy Preston, Black Crowes, Black-Eyed Peas, Britney Spears, Brian Setzer, Cake, Modest Mouse, Dolly Parton, Lori Morgan, Travis Tritt, Elton John, The Chieftains, The Decemberists, Ray LaMontagne, The Detroit Cobras, The Ditty Bops, The Eagles, Elvis, Enya, Fleetwood Mac, Franz Ferdinand, Hall & Oates, Hanson, James Blunt, KT Tunstall, John Mayer, Jewel, Natalie Merchant, Tracy Chapman, Janice Joplin, Jeff Buckly, Jennifer Knapp, Jim Croce, KC & The Sunshine Band, The Kinks, Little River Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Police, Ray Charles, Spoon, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Steve Miller Band, Stevie Wonder, The Strokes, Tom Petty, Tori Amos, etc…

Does it make me let of a music afficianado because I don’t own album after album of each of these artists? That I don’t think on them and give hours of contemplation to their art? I don’t think so. I’m just a cassingle/best-of kind of gal. I love it all.

I want songs I can connect with. If a certain artist provides more than one song I connect with…I’ll buy their album…if not…I still support their efforts on a particular track…enjoy it…and move on.

I think it’s great when you find that one artist who you really and truly connect with. I have felt that way about Susan Tedeschi, James Taylor, Billy Joel, and Taylor Hicks. I have wanted to be inside their music…I have ached with longing and jealously because their writing and/or voice was so incredible. I love these artists…still…even after spending hours and hours listening to them.

But that’s not going to always happen. Or it might happen but just in smaller doses.

For example Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre, Op. 40, moves me like no other classical piece of musical…hell, like no other piece of music, period. But I honestly could not name another Saint-Saens’ piece. I can name numerous pieces by Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven that I love and will always love. But Danse Macabre is my favorite. Why don’t I seek out more Saint-Saens? I don’t know. I just don’t care to. I love that one piece so much…so very much…that I can’t imagine being fulfilled with any of his other work…or maybe, I am satisfied with knowing that one song. I can’t explain it…it just feels right for me.

So, what does all this rambling mean, class? It means diversify, diversify, diversify. Don’t get so rapped up with one artist, one genre, one album…or at least not for too long. Enjoy the variety that is out there.

Take a trip and multiply.
(Great song under this link)

Thanks for everything, Ben. I love you, kiddo…and I’m ready for some new stuff.