The Wonder of Music
As you should be able to tell from this blog, I love music. I think it is the single greatest entity that exists in the world. Nothing else comes close. Music can convey so much emotion and meaning and have such immense personal significance. It can transport you to another time and place, instantly bring back by-gone memories to be relived, lift you up spiritually and emotionally, bring immense joy and satisfaction, or delve into your inner soul with sadness, contemplation, or introspection. Now, I like all kinds of different music from many different genres and styles. However, I don’t necessarily like all specific pieces of music or musicians. Like everyone else, I have my own tastes and preferences for what I want to listen to and what music I personally get the most out of. We all have our own sense of aesthetics for what pleases us and what does not. Certainly, there are some stuff that I just cannot even stand to listen to. But that doesn’t mean that the music I do not care for has no value or is not ‘good’. Some I can honestly admit is great music, but it just may not be something that I want to listen to. For others, it may be difficult to see what value it has, but I know that it does have value, because it brings enjoyment to other people. All the music and musicians I feature on this blog are all music I really like, but there are lots of other great bands and musicians that I just do not personally care for or have any interest in, that will never take a place within my heart or within this blog. But you will also never hear me say that a particular band, musician, or album ‘sucks’, or is just absolutely terrible, as that just doesn’t apply. Music is a very personal thing and we all have very different tastes and preferences, and very different sounds and styles that appeal to us or does not. There are many different reasons why we might like or not like a particular artist, or even a song from an artist that we usually do like. Sometimes music just hits us in a certain way, and even we can’t really identify what it is that is so appealing or repelling about it. Other times it may be very clear what we like about a certain song, due to its style, melodies, lyrics, arrangement, performance, or feel. We all have our favorite artists with plenty of reasons why they are the ‘best’ and others are just not as good, but those characteristics vary widely from person to person. Overall, every piece of music has value as long someone gets something out of it, if it moves someone or makes them feel something real. I may hate some (many) pop song(s) I hear on the radio, but there may be legions of fans that totally adore it, and get much enjoyment from it, and that is great for them. The very things that I may hate about the song may be precisely what others love about it, so enjoy it, groove to it, whatever works for you.
One thing that is very interesting to me is that even within a specific type of music or a specific artist, there is a vast range of tastes and preferences. Lately I have been watching a lot of the various album ‘ranking’ videos on Youtube, where they rank all the albums of a particular artist from ‘worst to best’, and it is quite amazing how different the preferences can be even among diehard fans of the same band. Of course, the classic example is The Beatles, as their albums were all great, but varied widely in style and sound over the years. And virtually every album can be found to be someone’s ‘favorite’ of all time. Some prefer the early stuff, others the later songs. Some adore the psychedelic stuff, others the love songs, more acoustic, or more rock n roll, the studio effects, or stripped-down sounds. We all have our preferences. With some other bands that released a range of albums actually considered to be really bad to really good, there may be more of a general consensus, but still usually even those considered awful by some fans will be the favorite of others. It is really very interesting to see and hear the varying opinions, even when I vigorously disagree or cannot figure out how they could possibly feel that way. But its all good, as long as we still respect each other’s tastes and opinions, as that is how they hear the music, and for them that is what is real, valuable, and meaningful. And that can’t be taken away. If a song makes you feel good, that’s real, and it doesn’t matter if someone else doesn’t agree. It’s always most interesting when people actually explain what it is that they particularly like or dislike about a song or album, rather than just saying it’s great or dismissing it as garbage. What I don’t like is when people declare their opinions as definitive, or try to tell you that what you like is crap, and that you need to like this instead. And unfortunately, you see that all the time on the internet, social media, etc., people trying to tell others they are wrong about how they feel about the music they like or dislike. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to what others have to say about their favorite music, as you may find out things that can expand your musical horizons and appreciate some music you hadn’t in the past. A good review, whether from professional critics or just regular folks, should be able to give you a good idea of whether or not that piece of music is something you might be interested in or not, regardless of whether the review was positive or negative, it should help determine whether it is something you should maybe check out for yourself.
OK, so what am I getting at here? As Paul Simon so eloquently sang in ‘Train in the Distance’ (Hearts and Bones, 1983), “What is the point of this story? What information pertains? The thought that life could be better is woven indelibly into our hearts and our brains.” And, you know, that’s just what music does, it undoubtedly makes our lives better, whatever your situation is, if even for just a short time. And certainly now during these very trying times of isolation and quarantines, music can be even more important. I don’t know of anything else that can lift your spirits or provide such happiness and joy as quickly or readily as your favorite music, whatever it may be. And that’s true even if the music you listen to is sad or depressing, even that provides a release or solidarity to your feelings, providing a safe haven for your feelings or anxieties, and knowledge that others are going through or have gone through the same things as you. So, whether you thrive on country, pop, rock, folk, classical, jazz, blues, hip-hop, rap, or their various combinations, or more esoteric sub-genres (neo-progressive hyper-stylized power speed metal?), there is great music out there for you. And finding others out there who enjoy the same type of music, and who you can share other new bands and music with to increase your enjoyment, is a wonderful thing. So, enjoy the music you love, fully and completely, regardless of what anyone else says. But it is also great to keep your mind open to new sounds and styles of music as well, as you may find there is so much more out there to enjoy beyond what you already know and love.
Note: BTW, I may try some of those 'ranking' type columns here in the not-distant future, just for fun and to get my personal picks out there, and hopefully, start some discussion (Probably starting with, who else, The Beatles).