So Much Music

This is the latest, so far, that I have eaten Sunday brunch. Monday afternoon. Heh.

In lieu of writing something new, or cribbing from my old MySpace blog posts, here’s one stolen from my goof-off, daily whatever-is-in-my-head-at-the-moment community blog called Why Oh Why. It’s from a few years ago, but still…

Anyway, follow me into the past. Dateline Monday, January 8, 2001:

I need 8 more hours in the day to listen to all the music I want to listen to. First I have to listen to all the music I’ve already heard that I love and then I need to listen to all the music that I have yet to hear but want to.

Which begs the question, why listen to crap in the first place? I know I’m going to hate that Peabo Bryson song, but I’ll almost surely like the new Beck. (And I do, by the way. I bought it this weekend.)

And that’s just the pop music. It doesn’t include stuff like this Steve Reich tape I found at The Wall a few weeks ago for $1.99, buried in the reject tape bins next to a remarkable amount of crap churned out with love, hard work, and great expense by a thousand uninspired musicians. I hope somebody finds each of those tapes and loves them as much as I love this one.

The Wall was a record store chain, formerly “Wall to Wall Sound and Video” and now merged with Camelot and some other chains to become “FYE” which stands for “For Your Entertainment” and which I think should be pronounced FIE, because everybody who works there seems to be determined not to let me buy anything.

It’s called “Music for 18 Musicians” and it’s beautiful. Tonight I had to sit in my car and listen to it for about ten minutes before starting my drive home. I had forgotten it was in the tape deck, and didn’t even know which tape was sitting there. Anything to get away from Top 40 radio, and I had forgotten my CDs at home. And then I pushed the tape in, it started playing, and it was like discovering the piece all over again.

I have no idea where the tape is now. Need to buy that again, this time for full price I’m sure. Unless I, er, acquire it somehow… nah. It’s great music, I don’t mind paying for it. The first time, it was kind of happenstance, I didn’t know what I was getting into. So $1.99 was perfect. Now though, it’s more like Dvorak’s 9th symphony, which I know I’m gonna love. I’ll probably buy that about 20 more times before I die.

Steve Reich is a minimalist. He writes pieces that seem as if they were born with the universe, and we’re only hearing a fractional slice of the skein. The music seeps into you, seemingly electronic but all acoustic. Every note made by human beings. A bass clarinet sends pulsating tones in graduated dynamics out across the listening space while other instruments shimmer and float in the background.

I didn’t come up with that “slice of an infinite whole” bit, I stole it from one of my college music professors. But he didn’t come up with it either, and it’s probably what Reich was going for in the first place– IIRC, that’s one of the goals of minimilistic composition. At least, according to that professor. Maybe he was full of crap! OMG. But I digress:

Instruments and motives surface and submerge in alternating patterns. Yeah, it can zone you out, but it can also be energizing, refreshing. It always seems to fill the need that I have at the moment. Tonight its purpose was to relax, drive some of the tension from my shoulders, and then help me drive home in a fog of sound, watching the road and the scenery float by to a soundtrack of hums and throbs.

Originally I used the word “ennervating,” which I didn’t even spell correctly, and which did not mean what I thought it meant. Inconceivable! I still think that word sounds totally different than it should in order to mean what it does. Which is basically the opposite of what I wanted to say.

When we go to heaven I think we’ll get to hear every piece of music ever made, as we like it and in perfect fidelity, should we so choose. That’s gotta be the way it is, ’cause otherwise why would I want to go?

And God will pick only the stuff He knows we’re gonna like. Or, maybe we’ll just love everything. That kind of makes me nervous. But if it happened, how would I know? I’ve already found myself kind of grooving to Bruce Springsteen’s “Brilliant Disguise”, which I’ve basically hated all my life. What’s happening to me? Does this happen to everybody? Is this why Sting sucks now? Will I start liking “Ten Summoner’s Tales” all of a sudden when I turn 40? Will I have to throw out my Jack Johnson voodoo doll?!?!


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