Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Ear Of The Beholder

I am a music junkie. I love music, always have. For me, it is the great equalizer across the generations. Parents and grandparents all loved the people and bands of their era, and so it goes with me. Literally, every song takes me back to a spot, geographically and chronologically. A song can trigger an emotion of sadness one minute, reflection during the refrain, and joy at the climax, all in a single three and a half minute segment.

This is what I love about music, I think. I'm an internalizer; I tend to stuff, ruminate and reflect. The voices inside my head while listening to music keep me sane. They allow me to stop, check out, and leave the insane pace we live for a few moments. I don't want to cheapen my faith, but it is almost a spiritual experience at times. Perhaps God is even working in there in some way, I dunno.

Most of the time, the songs have two or three significant meanings or tie-ins for me. Anyhow, as an example of how music can take me to places and times of my life, almost like an audible timeline or calendar here are some songs I heard while walking today and where they took me:


  • Jackson Browne: Call it a Loan: Instantly made me think of one of my best friends Pat, who was a Jackson Browne fanatic in college. His music tells a story, and you cannot help but reflect. It also took me back to an old girlfriend, only because it was popular during the time we dated. Weird.
  • Eric Clapton: My Father's Eyes: This made me think first of my own father, whom I never really knew. Every time I hear it I always think of what I look like through his eyes, from heaven. Am I making him proud? Then it switches to my other Father in heaven and I ask the same questions. Finally, it makes me look down the line and wonder if Ben and Sarah think the same thing about how they look from their father's eyes. A strange trilogy of thoughts.
  • Bruce Springsteen: Erie Canal: Oddly enough this song always makes me think of my in-laws and my ties to New York State. Donna's family lives near Rochester and I remember when I visited Rob in Rochester I saw part of the canal and was fascinated. By the end of the song, my thoughts had shifted to Springsteen the performer and the first time I saw him in concert. A 3 hour transcendent experience in itself.
  • Killing Joke: Darkness Before Dawn: First thoughts are of my brother Paul, who always had a taste for cutting edge music. Some of his stuff was "dark" and I put this song Killing Joke among these. It was a time in my life where I was seeking my own identity. I was in my own dark place, thinking myself a non-conformist or counter culturist. In fact, I was just a kid trying to find his place thinking the music he listened to made him different from everyone else. It really doesn't, but it was fun to think that.
  • The B52's: Private Idaho: Again Paul is first in my thoughts with this song. He used to listen to the B52's on Portland Ave., when we lived there in the 70's and early 80's. I used to hear it and think, what kind of alien music is he listening to? It sounded like something out of the Jetsons. That crazy organ/harpsichord thing, the beehive hairdo's and that crazy lead singer. It turns out I fell in love with the zaniness of it all. 
  • The Church: Hotel Womb: Favorite band ever. The version that came on was live, took me to First Avenue in Minneapolis, where I first saw them live with my brother Paul, in 1986. The song means a lot to me, as my wife and I consider the LP it came from to be "our album," one we shared together at the height of our courtship. 
The list could go on and on. Music transports me; elevates me; moves me and in some cases, helps me mourn. It's a brain/ear thing and a pretty cool physiologic response. I sometimes wonder if it's a healthy thing to escape, or to need this escape? 

It probably isn't, but you know what? It sure is fun.

Blogging off...

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