My parent’s basement is where much of my “old” music lives… In addition to vinyl, there are quite a few carrying cases filled with hand written cassette tapes. At least I hope they’re still there… It’s been a while since I have been down there… Please let them be there, please…
Some store-bought cassettes… some whole “records”… but the majority seem to be mixes and compilations. Back then we did not give much thought to a copyright or the idea that this might not be so good for the artist. It wasn’t malicious, just naive I suppose.
We also were not sending song after song into the ethernet… because there was no internet. We bought the music and if we were lucky enough to have a double cassette deck, we could carefully time the play back and recording and almost feel, in a small, silly way, that we were in a studio, a sound engineer or mixer and… Okay, maybe not…
But we would then share and trade the music by handing off a cassette to our pals… or… if we were in love or heavily in like, we would make an infamous Mix Tape to communicate our feelings… to say all the things we couldn’t say on our own… to let the music and other musicians be our Cyrano de Bergerac.
Ah, the mix tape… which has now given way to the Mix CD… or simply a list of mp3s dropped in a cloud or a box. It’s still romantic, just… different. The thought that goes into each track, each sequence… The music, the lyrics, the tone… It’s quite a thing.
Individual songs being placed in such an order that they form a beautiful, cohesive whole… a journey. Yes, a good DJ does this everyday, but… this is more personal… specific.
I buy as much music as I can… support as many artists as I can… go to as many live shows as I can. But to be honest, without a little sharing, I would be broke. Sharing music opens up our ears to new sounds, which we will hopefully then go explore more fully on our own. It opens up our hearts to new loves… not just the ones we are exchanging music with, but the artists… We can actually fall in love with a sound, a song, an album and of course, the musician who creates this magical, musical landscape.
The power of music is astonishing. A song can change our mood, lift our spirits, motivate us and yes, break us down to tears. It serves as the background to many of life’s essential moments… proms, weddings, funerals… and the foreground to some of our most precious and lasting memories… Our first concert, seeing our favorite band live, dancing with a love, or a daughter or son… sharing music and moments… Or perhaps even randomly wandering into a music club or a record store and discovering someone who may transform our lives. That’s happened… more than once.
With music you are never alone, even in a darkened room, with only you and a stereo. More ideally, in a darkened theatre or arena, filled with thousands of people you’ve never met. Music is communal, which is why sharing it with another person is so potent and essential.
Giving someone the gift of a song can be miraculous. And while it should be an unselfish act, the reaction is quite often remarkable. It’s like the call and response in jazz… that miracle happens between two or more artists, so in synch, so connected. Two different sounds… two different instruments, maybe… but unison… connection… synchronicity and sympatico…
When you gift someone a song and it washes over them, and moves them and takes them to another place, it is a joy beyond words. A musical baptism is a phrase I often use (Not bad for a nice Jewish boy from Jersey). Music is bliss, and watching it enter the ears and yes, eyes… mind and yes, soul of another… Ahhh… “Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
The world would be a better place if people shared more music, let it deep inside to touch their souls. And the fact remains that nations who share a cultural exchange get along better and understand each other more. Yes, simply through the exchange and sharing of music, dance and art.
So on this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks for my family and friends… and I give thanks for music. For the music I have given away, and for the music that has been given to me. For the music I have made, and the music I have yet to make. It is a mighty thing, that allows us to climb a mountain or topple it… to sing at the top of our lungs, or sit quietly, in deep meditation.
Music could be everything to everyone, but at the moment it is so much more to some. To those who let it move their soul, spur their minds and touch their hearts, I give a special thanks.
May you be surrounded by wonderful tones, dance on a melody, sing unabashedly out loud as you walk down the street, and live your life in glorious harmony. May your home be filled with love and warmth, health and happiness and great food and music.
Let us always say what we mean, give thanks for what we have, and let us always, always make and play music.