Human beings love music. We seem genetically programmed to hear it, make it, and experience it. This probably has to do with our brain’s ability to find patterns in random experiences and extrapolate those patterns into more complex experiences. A million years ago an emerging humanity heard things in nature, liked what it heard, and immediately tried to make it better. Music defines culture, identity, and ritual; it is a part of the human condition.
It is no surprise that I enjoy music. Maybe not as much as some of my audiophile friends. I am not really interested in celebrity or artist bios. The hipster fascination with having heard an unknown (or known) band first makes me want to stop drinking PBR. I have a hard time placing an artist voice to a particular band. I do not spend hours scouring the internet for the latest and most obscure. I accept that this may make me uncultured or at least out of touch. I define my love of music as being an extension of my emotions.
Most Plenty of my friends cringe at my musical leanings. I have an undying love for rock opera; specifically the Who, Styx, and Meatloaf. I treasure acts like Journey, Kansas and Bon Jovi. Occasionally I indulge myself with Roxette followed by a U2 chaser. I am unashamed of this. Their music gives me joy, especially when heard randomly at a bar or on the radio. (usually accompanied by air guitar)
However, I believe my musical taste has redeeming qualities. I find Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen fascinating. Part of my heart is set aside for the greats like Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Johnny Cash and the Beatles. I don’t know much about blues but I enjoy it every time I hear it. A few weeks ago I attended a bluegrass festival in Puget Sound and I have sat in rapture for experimental jazz infused Jewish traditionals in Budapest. World music brings a smile to my lips, whether it is from Africa or the Middle East. I am calmed by classical and inspired by neo contemporary.
One common trend carries through all of this–I am emotionally attached to the music I listen to. The right song at the right time will have me crying
shedding man water. When exercising, a particular set can literally make me faster and stronger. Music will calm me down when I am angry or stoke the flames to an inferno. This explains why I don’t care about the who’s or what’s of music; emotionally I only care about the how’s and why’s.
In a world where I have to be cold, hard and calculating, music is my catharsis. This is why I have no shame jumping around to the Safety Dance or sitting in a corner and weeping to Tori Amos. Music rounds me out as a person and allows me a dimension I otherwise would never express. To everybody everywhere, remember: “Be excellent to each other.”