Of all the arts, perhaps music is the one that has the most impact on our lives.
The music you listen to can reflect your mood or help you change your mood.
It can conjure up feelings of romance and love and reaffirm your very existence. It can bring back memories of lost love. A happy song can make you want to dance with joy! Fun music can make you care free. It is powerful stuff!
There used to be a beach bar with live music where I live in Florida called Bowery Station. It was my favorite place to go. Owners Matt and Lisa sold it just before Covid hit and I still miss it. Nothing defines beach life better than beer and peanuts at an open air bar on a warm day with a live band playing on the stage.
We all have music that defines us. Like the character played by John Cusack in the 2000 movie High Fidelity, we can put together our top song play lists; mix tapes of our lives.
What’s your song? If you had to choose one song that defines who you are, what would it be?
Or if you were to choose your favorite top 10 songs what would they be? The 10 songs or pieces of music you love the most, that you can hear over and over without getting bored with them.
One of my top ten is Stars Fell on Alabama. It makes no sense because I have no connection with Alabama in any way. And I’ve never read the book “Stars Fell on Alabama” which refers to an 1833 meteor shower and has nothing to do with the song. But that song by Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish, written in the 1930s, is one I can listen to over and over in the version sung by Jimmy Buffet.
In choosing your top ten, would you stay with one music genre or choose songs over a variety of genres? I would need to choose from different genres.
50s and 60’s rock ‘n roll is the music of my youth! Folk music became the music that defined my college years. I sang folk tunes in a trio with college friends Roger and John. We were our version of Peter, Paul, and Mary and sang at the Seventeenth Step Coffee House.
Then there were the fabulous 60s and 70s live rock concerts. By far the best live rock concert I was at was Emerson, Lake & Palmer. They blew me away! How many live rock concerts have you been to? What was the best; the most memorable for you?
For years I was a “Renaissance” groupie. I’d travel to anyplace they were in concert. I have every album they ever recorded. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a voice as beautiful as Annie Haslam’s. And their song Ashes Are Burning is definitely in my top 10.
Some of my most exhilarating music experiences have been at Broadway Shows … both literally on Broadway but also in productions by local theater companies. I love Show Tunes! I fell in ”fan love” with a young Jerry Orbach IN 1969 when he sang She Likes Basketball in the show “Promises, Promises”. What a fun song, and one that in its own quirky way captures the excitement of discovering that someone you have a crush on likes the same things you like.
For many years I had season tickets to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, first with conductor Sergiu Comissiona and then with conductor David Zinman, because I enjoy classical music. My favorite classical piece is Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme by Paganini. And for choral classical music, nothing compares to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. When the tympani starts the intro to “O Fortuna”, the music is riveting.
I can’t imagine life without jazz and blues. From Duke Ellington to Dave Brubeck, New Orleans Jazz to Boogie Woogie and BeBop, Big Band and the Swing Era. I met Dave Brubeck once; sat next to him at a dinner. I dare say, I was captivated; he wasn’t. And I’ll never forget the Muddy Waters concert I went to where joints were freely passed around and shared by thousands of strangers. You’d think with all that pot I’d forget it; but no, it is totally memorable.
When I came back to Florida a couple weeks ago within days I was at a live concert by the Leon Anderson Jazz Ensemble. It was a tribute to New Orleans Jazz that ended with When the Saints Go Marching In and everyone in that packed performance was on their feet clapping as trumpeter Scotty Barnhart and Clarinetist Joe Goldberg left the stage and walked through the aisles playing. The only thing better would have been to be on the streets of New Orleans.
Music brings people together! It has a power over us that no other arts can match. Music is universal. Everyone has the opportunity to surround themselves with music. Go to a concert and you’ll lose yourself in the music. For a couple hours nothing else matters.
What will your music be today? I’m not sure what my defining song is. Not even sure what defines me.
But the song that best expresses my feelings about music is by the Swedish group ABBA, released in 1977. Aptly titled Thank You For the Music. As the lyrics say, “What would life be? Without a song or a dance what are we?”
“Music is life itself.”Louis Armstrong
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