“Without music, life would be an error.” – Friedrich Nietszche
I listen to a lot of music. I mean a lot. (I’m listening to music right now – the Pandora Chopin station: fine music to blog to.) I listen to many different kinds of music: rock and roll, classical music and opera, country music and “Americana,” jazz, soul, reggae, standards, show tunes and what is now called The Great American Songbook. I have a huge collection of CDs, and before that, I had a huge collection of vinyl. I’ve been collecting music ever since I was a little kid. When I was young, I bought and listened to a lot of Broadway show albums: My Fair Lady, Guys and Dolls, Gypsy, Candide, The Music Man, etc. And I bought and listened to a lot of folk music: Phil Ochs, Peter, Paul, and Mary, the Chad Mitchell Trio, Joe and Eddie, etc., and eventually Bob Dylan.
And I always listened to the radio. Radio, radio, radio.
To quote Lou Reed:
“One fine mornin’, she puts on a New York station
And she couldn’t believe what she heard at all
She started dancin’ to that fine-fine-fine-fine music
Ooohhh, her life was saved by rock ‘n’ roll
Hey baby, rock ‘n’ roll”
I don’t know if my life was exactly saved by rock and roll, but it was surely enriched by it. My ear was always stuck in the radio: Murray the K and his Swinging Soiree, Rosko, B. Mitchell Reed, the WMCA Good Guys, WABC and Cousin Brucie, who is still going strong! I’ll never forget the first moment I heard the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I couldn’t believe the music that was coming out of that black Motorola that was in my parent’s bedroom. (The only similar feeling I’ve had was listening to the famous Bruce Springsteen show live from the Bottom Line in New York City on August 15, 1975, just after Born to Run came out.)
Nowadays, I listen to as much music as I ever did; maybe more. But now most of my listening must be background music to my writing. (I spend most of my time, like many writers, sitting at my desk/keyboard for most of the day, trying to write.) So I listen to a lot of classical music and opera. It’s either wordless or not in the English language, so it doesn’t interfere with my business of making English language sentences, paragraphs, and pages.
But these days, I’m a lazy listener: I got a Sonos in-house audio system that I control from my iPhone. So all I do is tap-tap-tap and change from Pandora station to Pandora station: from the Maria Callas station to the Van Morrison station to the Chopin station to The Beatles station to the Renata Tebaldi station to the Jayhawks station to the Merle Haggard station to the Marvin Gaye station to the Gregorian Chant station. And then I change Sirius Radio for their stations: from the Metropolitan Opera to Howard Stern to Outlaw Country to Siriusly Sinatra to Deep Cuts.
And my thousands of CDs sit in their shelves, mostly unlistened to.
Lots more on music later, and what’s happened to it.
Maybe one on the music in WHAT IT WAS LIKE. (Maybe that’s worth a whole e-newsletter.)