When the “New Wave” hit in the late seventies and early eighties I devoured the new music as if it were mana from heaven. Unfortunately, a lot of the people I hung around with thought it was akin to sacrilege to listen to anything but a half a dozen rock bands, who at one point in time, were new. The people I went to High School with and smoked pot with had no real sense of the future; things were the way they were and they would always be thus. But we were wrong. Things do change and music did too. Some of those same people are still stuck listening to the same music, but my taste in tunes went all over the damn place.
The odd thing was that I knew two totally separate groups of people and nearly everyone had this spiritual thing going with the music of the Beatles. I never really liked them. There are fewer than half a dozen Beatle tunes I would listen to again, ever, and after they broke up there’s not really anything there for me either.
All of this is incredibly subjective but the trick is to know we’re talking about liking Blueberry Pop-tarts over Blackberry pop-tarts. I’ll lean over into the cultural snobbery circle by mentioning that back in the late 90’s I started listening to classical music and I think I have a better appreciation for “real music” now rather than that stuff they serve on commercial radio.
The classic music kick got started by me looking around a music store, you know, those places that sold vinyl and cassettes and CDs, before Amazon and digital music took over the world, and discovered that classical music is a lot cheaper than the seven song album, three minute and a half song, cookie cutter top forty stuff. This holds true in the digital world as well, oddly. Anyway, I bought a couple of CDs and started listening to them as background music when I was writing. As it turns out, long songs are more conducive to better writing. Well, at least in my case. Classical music and I started an affair that’s been stronger or less strong depending on my current mood. It’s running pretty good right now.
One band from my past that has never reached escape velocity is “Yes”. I’ve bought three Yes albums in digital format in the last couple of years. Uh, hmm, four. I think most people can guess which four, or at least get three out of four, easily. I also bought “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull, but it was five bucks wasted. I listened to it once and haven’t since.
Back in 1985, and yes, I do remember when it started, I began to gravitate towards music with female vocals. That trend never left me entirely and if she sang at Lilith Fair ( yes, that is where the name came from) there’s a good chance I have her. I’m also uncannily accurate when it comes to buying a first album from an artist that never produces another piece of music. I think I’m a career killer for singers. No, really.
A friend of mine died a few years ago and he never left the gravitational pull of that same half dozen rock groups we grew up listening to while smoking pot before High School. It was tedious as hell to hang out with him because it was like reliving the first part of our lives again and again. I’ve held the same job long enough now to realize that most of the people I work with spend a lot of their time talking about the people we knew as we were just getting started. It’s a cultural thing particular to the business, I’m guessing, because it has been a very long time since I had any other job.
That man is the reason I can’t listen to a lot of the old “Classic Rock” because there are too many songs I can remember he and I being somewhere or doing something and that music was always there. There’s a song by Jethro Tull titled “The Third Hoorah” and one night I was whistling it loudly as I was walking out of work at a truck stop. So my friend is just coming into to work, and he’s walking towards me and there’s this potbellied pig of a truck drive standing there in the hallway of the truck stop and without a look or a word or a smile, nothing I tell you, I stopped whistling cold as hell and my friend picked it up without missing a note. I looked back at the truck, he looked at me, looked at my friend, looked back at me, looked confused…
But how many times can two guys tell that story? It’s a great story, yeah, but damn, man. Right now I wish I could tell it again, with him here, and it never got old when we were young.
Looking back that must have been part of the pull of Classical. It was new, at least to me, and it was complex and yeah, yeah, it was also cheap as hell. But it had endured. It had survived the test of time and I wonder, truly wonder, that one hundred years from now if anyone will give a damn about music that I once thought held the secrets of the Universe. I can see my niece’s grandchildren wrinkling their faces up at their ancestor’s appalling yet quaint musical tastes. Yes, he was a dinosaur, musically speaking, but he liked dogs.
Here we go. I have no idea why I wrote this tonight. Usually writing brews a bit before I sit down and begin but this kinda evolved as I went along. The dead are dead, but the echoes just keep coming back for more and more and more, more, more, but faintly, each time, again. There comes a time we become something new or we become our own shadows.