27 July, 2008

Music to My Ears

Our air conditioning is out. Well, not out, per se, but not entirely working, let's say. The ... people ... who put together our condos weren't exactly working on all cylinders (that's me being nice) and so made it practically impossible to reach the filters for our air conditioner. They (the filters) are supposed to be changed 2x a year, we've been here since March, 2005 and this is the first time we've realized we can't reach them because they (the cylinder-less nincompoops - that's me being less nice - that built these condos) put riveted obstacles in the way - to the point where we will have to pay to get these things replaced. It's 86 degrees out there today. Oy.

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On an entirely different subject (I just thought I'd mention the above paragraph so you got a good picture of my environment), I have been inspired to write a post about one of the things closest to my heart: music. But first, let me put some on so I can get further inspired ...

Mmmm Vampire Weekend, hell yea ... let's go.

We'll start with my favorite band of all time and no surprise because in this, I am as normal as a heartbeat: The Beatles. Seriously people, this IS rock music. Everything stems from The Beatles and [rant]don't give me that shit about Elvis or -god forbid- The Rolling Stones. I am firmly in JohnPaulGeorgeRingo camp and couldn't care less about MickDruggie1Druggie2Invisibleman1Invisibleman2 - the Stones would never have left London if not for the initial Invaders: The Beatles.[/rant]

The Beatles are the best selling group in musical history, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame could have been built on them alone. They enjoyed only one year of success in England before exploding into America and starting an audio revolution that would never again
(yet) be rivaled. With the exception of Yellow Submarine, every album The Beatles released both in the UK and US held the #1 sales positions for multiple weeks. Between 1962 and 1970, The Beatles songs grew from short, Pop-py sing-a-longs to wandering, mind-bending exercises in existentialism - pretty much, as they grew so did their music ... and so did their audience. A young girl who might have screamed her entire way through a concert in 1964 would later be tripping face to "Dear Prudence" or "I Am the Walrus" as she enjoyed the farther reaches of her wild oats. I believe that is one of the most amazing legacies of The Beatles, that they could grow with their fans and avoid being looked upon as "a band I liked when I was young" of which there are SO MANY. And that they could then speak so clearly to those fans' children, of which I am one.

Despite all the great new bands I've been exposed to and fallen in love with in the years since I first built my appreciation for The Beatles, I will always consider them my favorite because they will always be the best. They are the Michael Jordan of rock and roll.

Holding the second spot in my heart, and a close second at that, is Phish. For this one I have my college friends to thank. One friend brought over the album "Rift" one night in our last week at school. He bought it for the album art and thank God for great album art because Phish pretty much defined my 20s and early 30s and has infiltrated so many parts of my life, I'd be a completely different person otherwise. I think some people find something a little pathetic about that statement but really, it is no different than saying a god or a faith defines you: it's all subjective, it's all opinion and it's all individual to the person and therefore nobody else's business to judge. I am defined by my faith and that is in music and not in air.

All-in-all, I've seen many Phish shows. We'll leave it at that. I could count them down (I have before, I've forgotten before) but the count is for competition purposes only. "Many" is as good a count as any.

My first Phish show was 8/10/1996 at Alpine Valley, WI. It was the first Phish show for many of my friends and, unbeknownst to me at the time because I hadn't yet met him, my husband. The experience and music both had such an amazing impact on me that I came ->thisclose<- less than a week later to heading to Plattsburgh, NY - ticketless and solo - for the tour-ending Clifford Ball Festival. I had my boss on-call, I had a ride from Detroit to NY - I was missing the ride from Chicago to Detroit and that, in the end, was what undid my plans. I still regret that.

Until their quote-unquote end in 2004, I based most of my vacations and family visits around Phish shows which makes me a bad daughter, I know. But they were THAT important to me. I met Jason because of Phish. And when they return (note the when and not if), I will find a way. Despite the facts that I'm in a new job now with a much stricter vacation policy and that we have goals now that require savings accounts and that the economy is such that both driving and flying are financially tough ... I will find a way.

In the meantime, I am satisfying myself with new music that excites me and makes me wish - just a little - that I was in high school now and therefore didn't look quite so silly as a thirty-something woman blasting The Killers or The Raconteurs in public. I have three favorite stations programmed on my car radio that fulfill most of my needs when not on commercial: WDRV for its devotion to the 60s and 70s (and sometimes 80s but only the good 80s), Q101 for its love of the Alternative (which is now mainstream, of course, as alternative must always become one day) and XRT for the blend of both and some new stuff to boot. XRT introduced me to Vampire Weekend which I started playing at the beginning of this (went through that self-titled album then onto Yellow Submarine during The Beatles portion of this posting and now I'm into The Killer Hot Fuss for what probably should be the wrap-up since I am supposed to do other things today).

All-in-all, I would say that of all art forms - even writing, says the writing major - I find more comfort and a Home in music. Some songs can tell a great story while other songs can influence a heartbeat and give my restless toes something to do.
When I was younger, I went everywhere with my walkman (yes, I know that is a brand name but, like xerox and tivo, it has become the term for all in its category and, while I never owned a brand-name Walkman, I did own several of its competitors) and I couldn't even begin to impress upon you how exciting it was for me to graduate to a portable cd player and let's just say that my iPod is my 2nd best friend (behind Jason, of course) and, despite a 60 GB capacity, is nearly full with so much not yet on it. I like music too much for 60 GB to properly express.

There is music I dislike, certainly: a flat twang or an overplayed song (cough-stairway-cough) or what I call noodling which is a state of guitar-play in which the tune meanders hither and thither without actually going anyplace, and the only noodling I will put up with is Trey Anastasio because I know that eventually, he will go somewhere.

But for the most part, music is one of those subjects that I like to keep an open-mind on because I don't want to miss the best stuff each era has to offer by being mired up to the knees in my own era. My inspiration on this is my own mom who opened herself up to my music when I was a teenager and even though I won't have a child to do the same for me, I think I will succeed just fine on my own.


Mel said...

I LOVE VAMPIRE WEEKEND! I actually "discovered" them when they were the musical guests on SNL. I couldn't believe how great they were. I love that neo-retro vibe they have. I have a mixed CD I keep in my car with cool songs to drive to, and it has a bunch of Vampire Weekend on it.

I may be 36. I may love Barry Manilow. But I can still rock!

Danielle Filas said...

My students brought me Vampire Weekend! They also brought me Los Lonely Boys, Common, and Indra Arie. I'm with you- something about the entire art form satisfies a psychic itch for me, too!