By Tom Pinney – Maryville MO Daily Forum – September 22, 2016
I love music.
I don’t think you understand me: I love music.
Music speaks to me on a level it doesn’t speak to many other people. I feel music in my bones; I feel it in my heart; I feel it in my soul.
I’m okay with being single because music satisfies me in a way the human touch just can’t. Okay, that got a little weird, but you’re starting to get my point. I. LOVE. music.
I love music so much that when one of my favorite bands releases a new album, I hole up and listen to that album seven times the day it comes out. In high school, I requested a day off of work when Disciple, a Christian rock outfit, released their album Scars Remain just so that I could listen to the whole album.
When The Piano Guys or Pentatonix release a new music video on YouTube, I’m that video’s first 100 views. I also am responsible for about 500 views in total.
I will listen to any song anyone suggests – even though I may jokingly protest – because I just love music that much.
I know what you’re thinking: “Gee, Tom, do you really love music?”
Yes. Yes I do, imaginary voice I invented to advance this narrative.
But it’s not just me. Music speaks to millennials in a way it has always spoken to other generations, whether you realize it or not, because music is a generous and honest expression of true feelings. And it always has been.
Even back in the classical eras, you had Bach, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Ravel, and so many others creating music for the church, but they also created symphonies that allowed people to listen to instrumental music to which they could assign their own meanings.
Fast-forward to the advent of ragtime in the early 1900s, and see Scott Joplin, Max Morath, and Charley Straight adding syncopated rhythm to piano music to give it a visceral heartbeat.
Jazz in the 1950s, and there’s Thelonious Monk, Marian McPartland, and Duke Ellington jamming with complex chords and fun instrumentation.
And though I could rant about how instrumental music was the golden age of music, putting words in didn’t change much. Sure, it made meanings a bit more overt, but it also put concrete stories to pieces that would otherwise be fluid.
If you ever think that choral music is dumb, listen to works by Eric Whitacre, Morten Lauridsen, and Z. Randall Stroope, all of whom are still living and writing music with beautiful words and outstanding music.
Look at popular songs, and that raw poeticism doesn’t leave. Even the most ridiculous of songs you could think of have words that are poetic.
“Jeepers creepers, where’d you get those peepers? Jeepers creepers, where’d you get those eyes?”
You laugh, but fast forward 80 years and you see Bruno Mars steal Ethel Waters’ intent:
“Her eyes, her eyes, make the stars look like they’re not shining.”
Let’s keep going: “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me maybe?” Come on, who hasn’t been smitten at first sight?
We can argue whether it’s love or lust at first sight, but the intent is still there.
“And I was like, baby, baby, baby, oh, like baby, baby, baby no!”
Yes, I can even justify the Biebs: I, too, have been heartbroken, and had nothing to say.
I’m that kid that, if music moves me, it moves me. There are songs that give me goosebumps. There are songs that make me weep.
I know what you’re thinking again, imaginary voice my doctor says I should get checked: “But all I hear with rock lyrics is ‘dadadadadadadadaJUNJUNJUNJUNJUN’ and ‘RAGHARGH AACK ORAGHARACH BLACHOBLAGO RARRR!’”
(You have no idea how much fun it was to type that out. I’m still giggling.)
The following lyrics are from a song called “Flickering Flame” by a metal band called Wolves at the Gate:
“I’m waiting for a reaction/I’m looking for you/Every night I watch and wait as my candle’s burning out/Every night I scream and shout as my patience turns to doubt/Stay with me, my flickering flame.”
These are lyrics from “I Have a Problem” by Christian heavy metal outfit Beartooth:
“This is my reward, a barely beating heart/But I still lie to myself/My hands are in the air, and God I hope you’re there/Cause I can’t make it myself/Standing up just to fall back down/Screaming nonsense to hear the sound.”
Music is such an important part of our lives because, for roughly four minutes, we connect with the artists who share their stories.
So the next time you listen to your music – whatever that is – consciously listen to the words. Think about the struggle the artist went through to write them. Think about the passion behind them.
And don’t be afraid to crank it up and sing along with your windows down.