If you are chatting with someone and they say, “I don’t really care for music,” turn and walk away immediately. In my book, that is right up there with, “Food isn’t that important to me.” WHAT? Music and food are a vital part of my everyday life. They both put a smile on my face and are markers for some of the best/worst times of my life.
Let’s focus on the music portion. Music can set a mood, build intensity or provide comfort. It is a source of education about different cultures and appeals to the basic human rhythms. The human heart beats in time. The human ear can decipher pitch and tone. The human brain relates music with joy and pain.
Music is more than just a few snare drums or an 808 machine. Every culture around the world participates in chants, dance or song and have done so since the beginning of time. We use music to worship our deity of choice, comfort our small children and show our support/contempt for everything from drugs to war.
We live in the digital age. A time when music is literally at our fingertips. Within seconds I can download music from around the world and from any time throughout history. We are truly spoiled.
It wasn’t long ago when more primitive forms of musical transport ruled the markets (and space in our cars and homes). I am a child of the 80s. My parents had a record collection and better yet an 8-track stash ranging from Boston to David Allan Coe. The radio played a more diverse range than today, but growing up in the middle of country, we always seemed a bit behind the coasts. MTV played music videos and a mix tape was the ultimate goal of summer.
As I type this story I am listening to my 90s hip hop station on the free music service Pandora. I didn’t really get into “gangster rap” until the seventh grade. I wasn’t rebelling from my parents or trying to be something I wasn’t, it was a cultural shift in music that opened up the world to a specific genre normally reserved for big cities. It was great to hear such a different perspective on life, the cursing and inappropriate references were a bonus.
It was at this same time in the early 90s I first saw Garth Brooks in concert. It is almost a rite of passage if you are from Oklahoma. My Walkman tape collection grew and included Garth Brooks, George Michael, Aerosmith and Sir Mix-A-Lot, among others. That being said, I understand not everyone is as open to different styles of music. I’m not saying I like everything, but I don’t hate much.
When CD players took over in the mid-90s and children everywhere filled folders and folders with compact discs, it was clear the future was here. Lasers reading music, awesome. The sound was clear, unless you moved the player, and for just $14-$18 you owned a piece of music you would never need to get rid of again. Ha.
Arguably one of the biggest changes to music arrived in October of 2001. The iPod hit the market and all the illegal digital music floating around the internet was now in your pocket. Sure, it had its issues like copyright infringement and stealing of mass amounts of music, but ultimately it helped expand our world view of what music can be.
Back to my point. No matter what format, music is one of the most universal of elements. It can transport us to a time or place and can make us laugh or cry. Music makes my world go round and I hope you feel the same. Ray Charles brilliantly sums up my feelings on the matter, “I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water.”
Crank up the radio and sing along. Spread the joy of music to the next generation whether they like it or not.
-by Travis Peck