Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If music be the birth of friendship....

  I have stated many times that I like all types of music except any country\western that was released after 1978ish and I doubt that many who have heard me say it take it quite as literally as it is meant.  A quick peek at my iPod might convince them of how true it is.  Currently my playlists includes, but is not limited to, the following:
-Oklahoma-Original Movie Soundtrack
-The Dead Kennedy’s
-Willie Nelson
-Kurt Weill
-The Cramps
-Siberian Tuva Throat Singing
-The Pogues
-Beastie Boys
-Ray Charles and Betty Carter Duets
-Britney Spears
-Public Enemy
-Kelly Clarkson
-Tom Waits
-Hoagy Carmichael
-Ken Nordine
-Nine Inch Nails
-Wizard of Oz-Original Movie Soundtrack
-Buffy’s Once More with Feeling Soundtrack

A little nutty sound just for fun

  Well, you get the picture.  I like a lot of flavors in my party mix.  While I may not like everything that Britney Spears has done, I think that there is a lot of merit to be found in the average pop song.  I use these songs either as time killers, mood pacifiers or mood setters.  That music makes most things in life a little better has been a point proven everywhere from the high school prom to the trying-on-dresses-for-the-high-school-prom montage scene from any 80’s film.  Many of my best memories are associated with specific songs, genres and bands.

 Best.  Music break.  Ever.
  I have already written about how music helped me to escape small town doldrums in my youth, but it also helped me to embrace life there.  I was involved in the school choirs from elementary school through graduation and after.  My appreciation for choral harmonies lead to an appreciation for Opera to an appreciation for Musicals to and appreciation for a-tonal melodies such as found in Tuva Throat Singing, etc, etc, etc….
  However, the most compelling influence that music has had on my life is the friendships that have come out of a common interest in a song, band, genre, et al.  There are many yarns I could spin on this topic, but the one that stands foremost in my memory is from my first week at college.
  The week before I was to leave for college my sister was killed in a car accident leaving behind a one year old son and a devastated family.  The week was filled with angst and teeth gnashing and eventually, with the funeral.  I went to college a week late and with a soul full of venom against the world for the injustices it held.
  When finally left to my own devices I made my way around the campus trying to figure out where I was going and what I was doing.  The usual existential crap that we all go through at that time.  I had no friends on the campus and knew no one that was there.  I felt more lost at that time in my life than I have ever felt since.  On my second day there the college had an event of some sort, and I honestly don’t remember what it was.  A play?  A concert?  Something.  I do remember that it was an outdoor event and as I made my way through the throng of students trying to figure out where to sit, or if I even wanted to stay I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt with a Husker Du logo on it.  (Husker Du, um, band, er….. if you don’t know, just google it.)  While they had never been my favorite band, I had listened to enough of their music to know that that I had spied a kindred-spirit, so I went over and sat with him and that began one of the best friendships I have in my life.  Believe me when I say that music had EVERYTHING to do with it.  Had I not branched out musically and listened to all the music that had come my way I would have never known who Husker Du was.  Had Matt not been wearing that shirt I have no doubt that I would have wandered a bit more, and then made my way back to my dorm room.  I also have no doubt that I would not have lasted more than a month at school.  That friendship that began with a simple band logo carried me through my freshman year.
  To top it off, Matt introduced me to what are now some of my favorite bands.  Highest on the list is The Pogues.  Hell, if nothing else I owe him in scads for that.

Playing live like they oughta'

  I continued to study music in college and since have always had my hand in it.  Matt and I still play music together whenever we can find the time and he remains the one person I have played with who can understand what I am going for without me having to draw it out for him.  I think, and I am sure that he will agree with me, that music is not only our common bond, but what has always kept our friendship vital even when we have long stretches in which we don’t see each other. 
  All music deserves at least a little listen.  Even if you can’t find anything about it that you like initially, if you really listen closely you can find something of worth within it.  If nothing else, like the music or not, being aware of it can make for a good talking point when you meet someone new.  If you are very lucky it can change your life.

 Go on, give it a try


  1. My take is that music is what gathered us in, but we took it from there - we have this amazing shared experience with a common soundtrack. There is warmth and comfort every time I hear "Hey Ladies"; bittersweetness when I hear "San Diego Serenade". (Do you remember that evening? We had to think long and hard if we were even going to come back to school.) When I hear Cracker's "Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)", I'm in the Red Light Lounge watching "Harley Davidson and Marlboro Man" while the Party Wizard feigns sleep, all the while trying to figure out how he's going to explain Orca's prescence on his jock. (This didn't all happen in the same night; in this case, it just takes me back to an era.)

    Even today, music is a vivid mental touchpoint for me. Why do you think I call you every year about 2 weeks before Christmas (usually after listening to the Pogues' "Fairytale Of New York")saying that we really need to get together this year? It's because my mind always wanders back to the year when we went to Bernie and Jerry's house, but some how ended up riding the elevators of a very large hotel in Indy. I think we listened to "Fairy Tale of New York" a million times that night.

    Thank God for that Husker Du shirt - it launched a friendship so close that folks speculated about our sexuality/relationship even after we had graduated. And thank you for Poi Dog Pondering, Tom Waits (had heard of him but never listened to him), and a host of other shit.
    But most importantly, thank you for the "Top That" clip. A-freaking-mazing. I'd never seen that. Funniest. Clip. EVAR!

    Truly touching entry for me - because of these tunes, we'll always be 22, drunk, and smoking ciggies like it was our job.
    P.S. It was Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew", I believe. St. Francis collanade. I remember that whole incident well.

  2. Along with Mark and Jay, you opened my ears I didn't even know existed way back when. Like Matt, songs and bands are inextricably linked to places and events for me. Violent Femmes, Beastie Boys, Skid Row, and Motley Crue are Sophomore year bus trips, Senior year was Beatles, Black Crowes, 2 Live Crew, and Metallica.

    Sex Pistols or the Time Warp conjure up your leather jacket. Under the Sea will always be Shane's song after hearing him sing it so many times. (if he reads this I hope he'll forgive me...some of my Fraternity brothers have much worse songs and were much less sober when they earned theirs...the poor bastard stuck with Goin Back to Cali comes to mind) Each of the important women to pass through my life has her own songs for the ups and downs we went through together or apart - whether they make me smile or scramble to stab the "seek" button on the stereo is another story.

    The timing on me reading this tonight was perfect; a buddy and I text each other every time we hear Fat Bottom Girls and laugh about the pipes on his bike scraping their way up Michigan Hill. He can thank Glee for tonight's reminder of that fateful ride.

    Thank you for the memories and accepting the fat kid into your world way back when. Looks like Youtube and Itunes may be a little busy tonight.