The earliest song I remember hearing was ‘You are My Sunshine’, sung by my mother accompanied by strumming on her folk guitar. Through my childhood the folk movement permeated summer camp and school songs, and the few radio stations we could pick up in rural Vermont.
As I got a little older, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Who, and other rock legends entered my life, along with bluegrass through a very talented local band that sometimes had jam sessions in my family’s garage.
As I moseyed toward my 10th birthday, the US was turning 200, and patriotic music was the order of the day. I learned to play the fife, and belonged to Hanaford’s Volunteers, a fife and drum corps that is still going strong these nearly thirty years later. My mom began to listen to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, and I was introduced to country music for the first time. It was an acquired taste which took me nearly twenty years to acquire.
“A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash (commercial first) When I was ten, this was HILARIOUS!
In fifth grade I joined band and began listening to classical music and show tunes. In high school I joined choir and added madrigals and choral music to my repertoire. Friends began introducing me to their favorite music and I added pop influences including the B-52s and Michael Jackson (the best years) to my life.
“At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners” By Williametta Spencer from a poem by John Donne performed by CSULB choir with bonus ‘which book(s) by Phillip Jose Farmer is(are) referenced in this song?’ question.
My high school sweetheart introduced me to James Taylor, who brought me back to the folk of my childhood and gave me the song I want played at my funeral. In addition, he introduced me to blues and jazz and engendered a lifelong love of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, and BB King. Thanks, Pete. I owe you.
James Taylor performing “You’ve Got A Friend”. I will remind my loved ones with this song that I haven’t left them when my body has rejoined the earth and is dancing the breeze. Skippable ad.
Immediately following my divorce in my twenties, I dove into female empowerment music and listened to Tori Amos, Melissa Etheridge, Tina Turner, as well as some of the ‘new country’ women of the time, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Suzy Boggus, and of course Reba McIntyre.
“Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos. Fun fact: Ms. Amos is friends with Neil Gaiman. Awesome. Husband hides when I start playing this CD.
When I met Husband, we began exploring music together. A few notable artists we fell in love with included Kenny Wayne Shepard, Betty Lavette, Indigenous, Susan Tedeschi, and the Decemberists (okay, let’s be honest. The Decemberists is just me). We even learned to dance to Ethiopian pop music when our cousin married her husband, who is from Ethiopia.
Indigenous performing “Red House”. Monica and Sonny, this one is for you.
Over my life I have continued to be open to new music, and as video games and geek culture involved, and my sons got older, I was introduced to neo-classical and neo-jazz video game music, and to geek culture musicians especially including Jonathan Coulton.
Jonathan Coulton performing “I Feel Fantastic”, a song with a great beat that is a satire of ‘drug positive’ songs. Fan created video. Skippable ad. My oldest son, the Cave Dweller, introduced me to Coulton.
Music sets a mood, can soothe or energize, and introduces you to places and people all over the world. Today’s dance explores how music has accompanied your life:
- What is the first song you remember in your life? Is it still important to you today? Why or why not?
- What song do you ‘hate’ so much that you will leave the room or switch it off whenever you hear it? Is it because of the song or because of something you associate with the song, or both?
- What song or songs make you want to dance or sing every time you hear them, even if you were in a terrible mood or something bad has just happened? Is it the melody? The rhythm? Memories associated with the song?
- Do you and your partner have a song that you consider to be ‘yours’? What is it? Why does it mean so much to you two?
- What is your favorite genre (rock, rap, country, classical, etc.) of music? Do you almost entirely listen to that type of music, or do you listen to lots of different types? What about that genre do you like?
- Is there a genre of music you dislike or refuse to listen to? Why, and what is it? Are there any songs or artists that are exceptions to this rule?
- Does anyone in your household have a completely different taste in music than you? How do you deal with this? Does it cause conflict, or do you compromise?
- Are there times when you crank the volume up? Turn the volume way down? Turn off the music? What is usually happening at these times?
- Do you make music in any way? What is your instrument? What genre? Are you an amateur or professional?
- Tell us about your favorite musical artist or artists (including yourself). Why does this group or person ‘speak’ to you? What songs do you recommend (feel free to include a link or embed to YouTube.
As always, this is an invitation to take these questions with you through your day, share them and speak your mind. See you later!
- Did ‘Glee’ Rip Off Web Musician Jonathan Coulton? (mashable.com)
- New Music: Low and Night Beds (backseatmafia.wordpress.com)
- Musical meditation (belowzeroaboveinfinity.wordpress.com)