Monday, April 20, 2009


Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Doors, The Who....

What do you think of when you hear these names? I've been thinking a bit about music lately. For someone born in 1981, and who is a casual music fan, words like Classics, Greatest ever, Rock and Roll, Pioneers all come to mind. I was recently at a record store in Sydney hanging with music enthusiasts and learning a bit about them. Those people I was hanging with may have a problem with being called music enthusiasts because their passion for music goes beyond enthusiasm: It is a part of who they are. Fanatical might be a good word too.

My contact in Sydney, originally from Keene is one of those people. When I first met him, I had no real idea about his tastes and passion for music. But now after spending a few hours together, and also reading his blog and facebook posts, I realize this guy is extraordinarily passionate about music. His album collection is in the 1000's. He has categorized everyone of them. I've seen the online database. It is huge. I told a friend of his that he should have an article by Rolling Stone written about him.

To put his music-loving into context, think of a stat freak in baseball or football. Ever try to talk to them casually about the sport and then they start whipping out names and numbers you've never heard of? My friend Zidron from college is like that with Major League Baseball. I just want to have a watercooler chat about the Sox or Cubs and he busts out info that I wasn't really anticipating hearing about. Well I think music fanatics are a lot like that. They will mention bands and use musical references that just fly over my head. All I can do is nod my head and appreciate how much this person has spent learning about their passion. I like when they will say, "If you like (insert band here), then you will like (insert band here). Or (Band name)'s drummer went on to play with (musician) and then later on toured with (band). It's a lot like baseball I guess. (If you like A-Rod, then you will like Mark McGwire. Or Boston's pitcher went onto play for Toronto and later played for New York.)
Going back a few paragraphs, when I said I was a casual fan. I think that's a correct statement. I mean I enjoy many of those artists mentioned above. But only their music mostly. Beyond the music, I don't have that passion of diving into the meaning or history of it.. Or I haven't taken the time to learn about it yet. One gentlemen I met at the store who is full on into learning about music said he didn't get into it until he was 30. So I wouldn't say that I'm never going to find music interesting or inspiring.

Some people might even say my taste in music is terrible because I still love the 90's rock scene. I grew up with it. Many of my memories include those 90's songs. Nirvana, weezer, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Green Day... So that music is a part of me. But at least I can appreciate that there were 30 years of rock and roll before I was born...and another 50 years of music before that that probably influenced everything leading up to now. I hope that last sentence is relatively correct. What I mean is, I missed the GOOD stuff.

I collected things growing up. A lot of you know this. CDs were one of my favorites. My mom, brother and I were all a part of Columbia House. Remember them? We'd get a CD or two every couple of weeks. In a 10 year stretch, my brother's and my collection was up to about 450 albums. I was on my way to being a music fanatic. But somewhere eventually, I realized that music wasn't worth my money anymore, and I stopped buying them. I know that a lot of the ones I bought, I didn't always listen to the entire thing! I bought it for the singles or the popular song that was on the radio. Sometimes I would find a random song I like, but there definitely are albums I still own that I can't recognize all of.

Now that I think of it, my mom had great tastes in music. Her all time favorite is Bonnie Raitt. Again, I don't know a lot about her, but from the little I've heard, she could sing the blues.
So my friend at the record store. I would think he listens to an entire album, and most likely has an opinion on it right away. I'd like to ask him actually how he goes about listening to a record. Do you listen to it all the way through? Or take a week to let it soak in? I believe his passion is the blues. He's mentioned Neil Young, Bo Diddley, Bob Dylan as some of his greatest influences...I believe he gets more out of a record than you and I can imagine. There's something in all that music from the 50's and 60's that I know is amazing, I just don't know what exactly. A couple of us asked him what his favorite year of music was....and he actually answered "I cannot answer that, but I can say that I am passionate about music from 1920-1970" If I started now....and tried to learn about the roots of music like the blues and jazz all the way back to 1920, I would need a couple lifetimes I think. Sometimes I wish I could have been born in a different decade, that way I may have been more into it. but then again, this internet thing is pretty awesome. I'm glad I have it around.

My closing thoughts are that I think I am envious of music fans because it looks cool. People who work in record stores have such a great job. Listening to music they like and talking music with music fans. In another life, I want to be that guy at the record store. But what I've learned is, most music fanatics are not doing it to look cool. The music to them tells a story, has a meaning, serves a purpose. It's in their blood and drives and inspires.
I guess it makes me smile knowing we have those people out there to teach us novices about music history. I can appreciate that. I don't know about the blues, or jazz, or soul...but I know what I like, and nobody can change that. My tastes are different than yours. You might be a car lover, a nature fan or a travel expert. I think I should take some of my own advice when I say find your passion and run with it....If it makes you happy, do it. So listen to what you like and rock on. Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

Judd said...

"What I mean is, I missed the GOOD stuff".

No you didn't. Good stuff is what matters to you and you only.

My good stuff may be a shared good stuff with a few or with many...but no matter, it is "my stuff" and that is why I am passionate about it. The record shop is a place for me to share my inspiration and passion for like-mined-stuff-admirers. For me that record shop is one of my favourite places in the world.

Everything you hear today was influenced by what was played before. The same goes for the stuff that was played in between 1920-1970. Like Neil Young says, "its all one song". There is no time like the present (and I mean that in the most existential sense possible) and there is always time to get your ears into something new, old, borrowed or blue(s).

What I love most about "my stuff" is that those songs...blues, country, gospel (and folk and R&B that followed) is that, that music was deeply engraved in the background of the music makers...all of of whom are connected by a shared experience that links them inextricably. It was a music with a message and a literal truth.

That is why I love that period. The songs were not created to be chart toppers, they reflected the times and the lives of the people that sung/wrote them.

You said, "The music to them tells a story, has a meaning, serves a purpose". Well said. And I agree. I love to think about, listen to the stories that people tell me through their songs. That is what makes the music come alive for me, that is why I listen and that is why the songs, lyrics and people are intertwined in my daily life.

Call me what ever you want...I'm a fan and believer.

Yes, find your passion and roll with it. Mine is music, yours is life-adventure and travel and new experiences (my observations) and Dunkin' Donuts (your musings) it and then share it. So far the story you are telling is a Champion in its own right. If it had a beat...I'd listen to it.

if anyone is interested in who I am, here is my collection: