I don’t claim any special privilege, knowledge, education or access. Like many friends, and friends I haven’t met, I simply love music.
I got my first portable FM radio somewhere around the Christmas of 1978, and I have been trying to carry music everywhere with me ever since. It means that much to me.
In 1990 I went to work at a record store. You see, I thought I knew about music. I had been actively listening to radio and watching MTV and going to other record stores. I must have had a few hundred cassettes and dozens of LPs and dozens of CDs by then.
I found out that I didn’t know much. The next four years blew my head open, again and again. The reality was, despite what I knew, the information flowed in reverse: I was learning from customers and coworkers. I was forced to confront my many biases because they got in the way.
I learned that the amount of beautiful music never played on radio, never on TV shows, never in movies, never in clubs, is astonishing. In fact, it is overwhelming.
It is impossible to keep up, to keep current, to be aware of all scenes, or to keep just one scene alive.
Music is a vast and deep ocean. Changing a perspective just slightly cracks open new ways to appreciate what you hear, to develop a feel for where it came from and for why it must be. Look at genealogies and chronologies of influences and genres. Consider political movements, cultural identity and social issues. Look at how technology has affected everything: production, performance, distribution, storage, spectacle, and ultimately what it means to be an artist.
What is harder to explain, and what makes music so deeply personal, is that something in a musical passage that sends chills up your spine, the lyric that always makes your voice break, or that sound that insists that you must move.
I hope to write about all of those things. But I warn you I probably won’t do it in any sort of ordered or organized fashion. I hope to impart a sense of wonder. And I hope that I keep learning.
Note: Because Billy Joel once lamented “…You can’t get the sound because it’s only in a magazine…” (It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me from Glass Houses), I hope to provide links to lyrics and videos where they exist and when appropriate.