I remember when I was sixteen and on a teen tour of the US, I became friends with Jason. No last names to protect the innocent. He was a rock ‘n roller and was listening to bands that I had either never heard of, or did not think to listen to… and we’re talking bands like AC/DC, Rush and Van Halen. Okay, I had heard of all those bands, obviously, but I do not recall REALLY listening to them until Jason came along. He got me hooked on songs like “2112,” “Beautiful Girls” and the whole Back in Black album.
And Jason had a boom box… a big, shiny black and silver boom box. Radio… and an antenna… and two… that’s right two cassette decks! Granted, this was before the CD, but back in those days bigger was definitely better… Something that would not bode well with me and the ladies. The larger the speakers and the more pounding bass you could extract, the better for tormenting parents and young siblings. Man, did I want a big ass boom box.
I was well out of this phase when I saw Spike Lee’s utterly brilliant and infinitely watchable Do the Right Thing, yet I still envied Radio Rahim and the largeness of his music machine.
Nowadays, smaller is better. The whole idea is to create the smallest mp3 player and fit the most information into the smallest format or file. While this certainly bodes better for me and the ladies, it makes me miss those days of lugging a 20-pound box from party to party, trip to trip. Music’s most influential moments occurred, at least for me, on a huge boom box or on a big ass stereo with large, wood paneled Boston Acoustic speakers that sat on the floor, not tiny ones mounted on a wall.
iTunes, while convenient and fun, compress the music so much you lose many of the highs and lows. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my 80+ gigs of musical jukebox I have in my iTunes folder. I love the ability to practically listen to whatever I want, wherever and whenever I want! It’s great…
But as I listened intently to 2112 last night, I thought of Jason, that trip and the first time I heard that fantastic song… and it was on Jason’s big ass boom box. Sorry, I know I have said “big ass” a lot, but it just feels right when talking about me at 16! No, not James at 16, but man did I love that show!!!
So fine… smaller is better. That just gives me the impetus to lose this gut I have grown in my adult years… to get healthy and back to the time of small belly, big music. It’s funny… I find the older I am getting, the more I am embracing loud music… Linkin Park, Rage Against the Machine, Alice in Chains… all bands I am coming to well after the time I should have enjoyed them.
Perhaps it is a desperate attempt to stay young… perhaps I am changing… perhaps I just like it now and would have liked it then if I had just listened a bit more… went out of my comfort range. For whatever reason, I am more of an explorer now… and I like that!
Look, whatever it is, I love music… I love the way it makes me feel now and they way it made me feel then. Music opens your ears and your soul and your heart. It is the one thing that breaks through the barriers of language and race and class. If love is the universal language, then music is its score… its soundtrack.
Music is… It just is!