Music Appreciation 101



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.


21 Responses to “Music Appreciation 101”

  1. suzi-q Says:

    Shell, you certainly give a person a great deal to think on (and listen to). I have to tell you that your love of music is so extensive but I am glad to have been a part of it including singing songs (hollering rather) from the backseat of a 69 VW van or better yet in the cavernous backseat of an old 50 Ford sedan:)Such fantastic and precious memories “Oh Mr. Moon Moon bright and shining moon won’t you please shine down on Shelley!”
    Love you,you old songmeister you!

  2. Quossum Says:

    I like “No Rain” by Blind Melon as a happy song. I like happy songs.


  3. bentendo Says:

    except for the fact that having “no rain” drove the lead singer to O.D.
    Perhaps he should have gotten a seeing-eye melon.

  4. Shelley Says:

    Q…bentendo…bentendo…Qfeel the love…feel the love.ha.

  5. Quossum Says:

    Maybe he should have used that bee-girl from the video as a seeing-eye creature.


  6. brokedownpalace Says:

    shelley, i tried to listen to the song. i couldn’t get it to download, but i now have a user name on–the morning is not a complete failure. i read the music blog/post/whatever you call it. i feel certain you are the first person in the history of music commentary to discuss the merits of elliot smith and captain & tennille in the same piece. oh, i think bentendo is absolutely correct about bm and shannon hoon. “no rain” barely scratches the surface of bm’s capabilities. still a damn good run.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I’m sad that I cannot name a Saint-Saens piece… or any single piece of music that moves me into oblivion… I love many kinds of music–but I do have to argue that Brittney DOES NOT deserve to be recognized in the same group with James Taylor… even if she has fun music. Hit me baby, one more time~!:)

    Thank you for making me think.

  8. Shelley Says:

    Okay, Stace, I know to you that would be like putting Jackie Collins in the same category as Jane Austen.

    And although I would never do that, I’m just saying…both have their place as writers…and those places are both valid.

    By the way…if James ever did a duet with Britney…I’d slit my wrists…just for the record. šŸ˜‰

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Since I’ve never read any of Ms. Collins’ work, I will be making a great leap of assumption by saying, Pshaw! Yikes! but a nice analogy nonetheless.

    You’re WAY too quick to validate someone just because they have the motsy to get published and/or recorded, though. Admit it (and I’m making no statement against Ms. Collins or Ms. Federline)–for a few, money and a pretty smile CAN sometimes acheive what TALENT may not be able to accomplish on its own.

    I know, I’m an opinionated anonymous nosy-hosey. šŸ™‚


  10. Shelley Says:

    Okay, stace…let me qualify…the MUSIC has value…even if the “artist” is lacking.

    …and I love my little anonymous nosy-hosey…she rawks harder than mrs. federline. LOL

  11. BoinK Says:


    If you’re interested, check this out for live recording on Elliott Smith doing numerous covers.

  12. brokedownpalace Says:

    shelley, the consensus is that you have an eclectic taste. that should be a compliment!

  13. Shelley Says:

    Boink..thanks! I’ll check it out.

    Love me some Elliott (even though he makes me cry…sniff…sniff).

    By the way…don’t think I’m morose…but I absolutely love the scene from The Royal Tenenbaums where Richie (Luke Wilson) cuts off his hair and slits his wrists while “Needle in the Hay” plays.

    That was the first time I’d heard Elliott Smith and thought it was such a powerful song.

  14. brokedownpalace Says:

    Elliot’s very poetic death…,12102,1172275,00.html

  15. brokedownpalace Says:,12102,

  16. nolagirl Says:

    I totally get what you’re saying Shelley. I have learned that “greatest hits” albums can be a girl’s best friend!

    And, it may not be a “happy” song, but I have to get it off my chest: I really, really like that song “Ridin’ Dirty” by “Cha-millionare” (whatever the f*ck that means). gasp! šŸ˜‰

  17. Shelley Says:

    Okay, NOLA, you’ve official piqued my curiousity…I’m off to search for “Ridin’ Dirty” on iTunes.

    You lovely weirdo, you!

    By the by, I’ll be in New Orleans this weekend. I’d love to give you a call.

    E-mail me your number if you’re so inclined!

  18. NOLAgirl Says:

    Had to come back and tell you that I have heard you mention Susan Tedeschi more than once now and it finally moooooved me to check her out … you’ll be happy to know her “best of” album is now on my Amazon wish list!

  19. TALK! Says:

    nice, nola…i’m so glad you checked her out. susan tedeschi is totally amazing.

    i’d love to see her in concert.

    when i heard that taylor sang with her…i lost it…i would have LOVED to have heard that performance!

  20. NOLAgirl Says:

    I didn’t hear that they performed together! How cool is that?

  21. TALK! Says:

    I think they performed together at the same venue with Robert Randolph and the Blace Crowes…but I’m not sure.

    Actually, the whole Susan Tedeschi thing could have been a rumour…but I chose to believe it!

    Wouldn’t it be fantastic if she showed up on his album?!


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