Saturday, July 12, 2008
Yes, it was as good as it looks and I have to say it was even better than I expected.
Now that we're home . . . We had a fun evening with friends last night where the question came up, "What's your favorite song of all time?" Now, some of us who were in the room are professional performers by trade and it is entirely impolitic to blurt out something about Bach's Goldberg Variations or Beethoven's Grosse Fuge in mixed company. Clearly, the communal expectation was to reference iconic or emblematic artifacts of popular music, with a strong preference for songs popular during the 1970's as everyone in the room was on the north side of 45 years-old already.
A harmless enough exercise so far, but the "cool" part happened next. Our host had his laptop open and had his subscription to Rhapsody fired up. One by one we took turns finding our songs and then listening to significant bits here and there. First came It'll Shine When It Shines by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Then I pulled up Bruce Hornsby's Love Me Still. Some Elvis (Presley that is, not Costello) showed up and then jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut's recent cover of You Ain't Nothin' but a Hound Dog. Eventually, the Beach Boys and Randy Travis were represented and now my memory fails what else made the cut. All of this spontaneous, eclectic mixing and matching was made possible by this fairly new distribution medium that is surprisingly easy to use, even for those of us who refuse to stand in line to get the latest i-phone.
As I listen to the daily handwringing about the death of the music industry as we know it, I see this kind of nearly universal access to music as something really powerful. To my mind, our contemporary culture values musical experiences as much as any who have come before us. Performers may take issue with audience preferences and tastes, but to an extent we have never seen before, people find deep pleasure and even comfort in music they have known from prior experiences. These emotional bonds with "my music" may sometimes make it difficult for new things to find sufficient space in the marketplace. Still, the love for music that resonates deeply at a soul level seems alive and well, even in these discouraging days.