Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I have been thinking a lot about how music affects me and how it can change my mood. I grew up hearing country music, well and some Elvis too. Then my older brother, who is four years older than me, got into heavy metal, so I was then exposed to Black Sabbath, Dio, AC/DC and the like. When I went off to middle school, I made a small group of girlfriends. We all fell in love with music together. I attended my first concert at the age of 11, where my girlfriends and I went to see A-Ha live at the Fox theater in Atlanta. One girl's dad went along as a chaperone and he fell asleep during the show. Granted it was a pop band, not a hard-core metal gig, but still....who the fuck falls asleep at a show? I was flabbergasted, and it was then that I realized, some people don't get it. Some people don't need music in their daily lives and some people don't even notice it.

Let me go back....as a child I always wanted to play an instrument. My mother was an excellent piano and organ player. We had one of those electronic organs in our home for years, I used to sit and tinker with it for hours, much to the dismay of my family. And then in 4rd grade, I decided to learn an instrument. But which one? I asked my mom for ideas and she told me that she had always liked the sound of a saxaphone, so I decided to give it a go. I played the alto sax in 4th grade. I was terrible at it. While I learned to read the music quickly, the actual playing of the instrument escaped me and frustrated me. I bailed on the sax. In 6th grade I decide to join the chorus, not because I could sing, but because I liked to sing. I am an awful singer, but when you are part of a chorus, the other singers disguise your awfulness. During this time, I had also met my new best friends, who happened to all play something. Macy and Barbara played violin, and Stephanie played the Oboe. And then there was me. I wanted to be able to play something, because I adored music and I wanted to make it. I did a short stint playing the drums in the middle school band/orchestra, but that wasn't my bag. I next tried to play the cello early in the highschool orchestra. I wasn't terrible at it, but I was far from good. I really did like the cello, even though I had to have two of them, one for school and one for home because it was too large to take on the bus. When the guy who played the stand-up bass graduate, I got talked into trying out the bass. The bass was a very cool instrument but the strings made my fingers bleed, so not cool. I had stuck it out in chorus all through middle school and during the first 2 years of highschool. And during those years, here and there, I took private piano lessons and guitar lessons. To no avail, I sucked at playing music on just about all instruments. No matter, my friends and I were going to be in a pop band and move to London when we finished high school. We all got some instrument to play, except we were minus a drummer, but we figured we would pick one up once we got there. We bought the sheet music to tons of our favorite songs and learned them as best we could. We would sleep over at Stephanie's house and set up our stuff in her rec room. Steph and I had electronic keyboards, we were down for making lots of weird electronic music like all the cool pop bands were doing at the time - Duran Duran, A Ha, Devo, Depeche Mode, etc. Macy had a stratless Fender bass and Barbara had an electric guitar, I can't remember the make but it was black. Our parents never laughed at us or told us we were being silly for wanting to be in a band, and we really thought we were going to move to London when we all turned 18. Things of course did not work out that way.

Anyway, as I remember how I got into music and what a huge effect it has been on my life, I wonder in awe at how some people can go days and days without listening to any music. How people don't notice the music in elevators or playing very softly in the back ground in restaurants or stores. I know some people who never buy CDs and can't imagine why I was coming out of my skin excited over last Saturday's U2 show. "I just don't get excited about stuff like that" someone said to me. At the recent concert I went to, I had seats behind the stage. It was a very interesting perspective, I got to see what the band sees. All of those faces in the crowd, all of those people looking right at them. What must it feel like to have the undivided attention of thousands of people for 2.5 hours each night? What power U2 has to effect change, because people listen to Bono. I don't know if it is simply because he is famous, or because he has some really fucking great things to say, or because he's hot. Either way, I wonder if they feel at all overwhelmed by the power they have. Or any well-known band for that matter. People begin playing music because they love it, hardly anyone starts out with the intention of being famous the world over. Often times you read their stories about how they slept in sleeping bags on the floor of some dump apartment and ate ketchup sandwiches while they kept playing. Sometimes it works out and more often than not, it doesn't. But they still do it, because maybe they have to.

During concerts, where thousands of people all come together to listen, you can find a very unique sense of community, everyone there for the same purpose. People are pleasant in general, everyone is happy and dancing and singing. While the beer lines are long and the beer overpriced, everyone is happy anyway. For one night, we get to sing and dance with the professionals, we get to hear all about life through their words and music, and I find more often than not, I can identify with so many lyrics. And I think that is the thread that brings everyone together. We can listen to what our favorite musician says and we can understand or feel like they understand, that we are not alone and that other people have walked this road before. I can't fathom a life with no music, I can't imagine not having it every day, even if all I can be is an expert listener. At least I married someone who can play instruments. Maybe the kids will not get my musically retarded gene.


At 6:07 PM, Blogger Mel said...

Great post. I wouldn't have survived adolescence without music.

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Smoov said...

Me too Mel! Had I not had music in my life during my adolescence, who knows what I would have done! I can remember spending endless hours listening to something and feeling sorry for myself, and in the end, I would feel better after the album was over.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

Great post! While I don't find time to listen everyday I do really like music...a lot of different types of music. Nearly every song brings me back to some other time and some old feeling.

At 1:53 AM, Blogger Anandi said...

I will echo the "great post" sentiment. Heavy metal saved me in high school :). And a great concert has the power to uplift me like nothing else. I've had the good fortune to see a few really good shows in the past couple of months. I saw U2 on their Zoo TV tour in 1993 (I think?) and it was awesome.


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