Monday, November 21, 2011


I love music.

Let's clarify the topic a bit.  Some people think "rap" is music; I'm not one of them.  At first rap had a kind of musicality, but a lot of that seems to have gone away and what's left is angry chanting.  If I want angry chanting, I'll watch video of an Occupy demonstration.

I don't go for hip-hop either.  It just doesn't sit well with me.

I enjoy some classical but mostly I'm a pop, rock and folk-rock kind of guy.  I like music that moves to a good beat, especially stuff that has a pace that's right for walking.  It just helps a guy move along, and next thing you know you're clear across town and how did you get there?  Ah, who cares - the tunes have been great.

I was wandering around YouTube just a few minutes ago, can't remember what I was chasing exactly, but there on the suggested viewing list was Judy Collins' song, "Both Sides Now."  I've always loved Collins' ethereal voice, and I clicked it.

The organ starts, high and sweet.  A few taps of the high hats.  And Judy sings.  She's a couple of verses into it before I can completely pull myself together and hear what she's saying.

"Moons, and Junes, and Ferris wheels
The dizzy, dancing way you feel
When every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way."

I wept.  She's singing about a heartbreaking naivete and a wrenching knowledge that the naivete must come to an end.  Innocence is gone, no matter how well you remember what it was like to be that carefree.  There have to be some clouds in that wondrous expanse of sky.

Do I necessarily share all these views, have I lived this life she's torn out of her heart to show to us?  No.  But it certainly sounds like she has; if she hasn't, Judy has pulled me into the most mesmerizing fantasy because it sounds like she lives each and every moment that she's singing.  I do enjoy it when the singers really throw themselves completely into the song.  If you're going to round up people to play behind you, if you're going to stand behind that microphone in front of that great big audience, how could you possibly give them anything less than everything you have?

I suspect I may be a depressive personality.  Some of my absolute most favorite songs ever were the saddest.  "Both Sides Now" is a good example.  Arlo Guthrie's "City of New Orleans" is a despondent obituary of the poetic railway journey of an older time.

It's not all sad songs, though.  John Denver's "Country Roads" is one of the best songs of all time.  And "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" is a flat-out party.  Go listen to it! 

And it's not all old stuff, either.  I know I'm too old to be considered hip, but that never stopped me from taking a listen at what's out there.  Jason Mraz is great; Beyonce is a dance party looking for a place to happen.  Marc Brussard's deep bayou blues-rock sound is an absolute blast.  Al Green is old-school cool.

But there's so much more.  They've been around for a little while but I recently discovered this Croatian duo of cellists, 2Cellos doing a cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal."  It was, in my opinion, actually better than Michael's original version.  It was brilliant stuff.

There will always be trends in music.  Rap has been around for awhile, it may go on forever and it may fade away.  Crunk seems to have died, good thing too.  Grunge was always there - it just didn't go by that name.

There will always be ballads.  There will always be room for a little ensemble of guitar, drums and keyboard.  A vocalist steps up to the mic and shares a little of his soul.  Sometimes the group is bigger.  Sometimes it's just one lonely singer, humming the words he can't quite remember.  But he loves the music.

I finished writing this while listening to Queen's "You're My Best Friend."  I miss you, Freddie.

1 comment:

    Cody Canada & the Departed, "Staring Down the Sun"
    Some people call them roots-rock, others call them alt-country, I call them awesome.