Thursday, August 26, 2004

A Summer of Music

Summer time is typically a time of the year when I tend to listen to more music than I get a chance to during the rest of the year, due to the fact that I have more time to cruise the backroads and generally bomb around the countryside, unimpeded by snow and ice. This summer has been a summer of music because I have been paying more attention to music and actively seeking it out. I have been enjoying some favorite music over and over again (to the point of driving my kids to distraction) as I milk each song for everything it has to hold. It has also been a time for re-discovering old favorites as well as being introduced to some new stuff.

One of my favorite ways to de-stress is to play some favorite music really loud with all the car windows open and self singing harmony with it. (This can be difficult if the music is strictly instrumental.) The benefit of doing this is that it creates pleasurable memory anchors that come in handy later in the year when I am feeling stressed by something. All I have to do is turn on the music and I am instantly transported to those happy feelings of sunny summer days, the warmth of summer and the joy of being alive.

Music is fascinating to me because of the way it can stir emotions. I find it amazing that a certain arrangement of sounds can cause one to feel joy, sadness, anger, and every shade of emotion in between. It is also amazing to me how musical instrumentation can turn the most banal of lyrics into something that mean something far more intense than the mere words themselves suggest. Of course, when you have powerful lyrics married to powerful music, like the beautiful poetry of a Stan Rogers or some of U2's stuff, you really have something that can get right in between the joints and marrow.

A friend and I were discussing our different approaches to music the other day. She is attracted to music by the instrumentation and hardly notices the lyrics initially. She is like Lord Peter Wimsey, Dorothy Sayers' noble sleuth: "Peter, she felt sure, could hear the whole intricate patttern, every part separately and simultaneously each independent and equal, separate but inseparable, moving over and under and through, ravishing heart and mind together." On the other hand, while the music itself may draw my attention to a particular piece of music, I tend to focus on the lyrics if there are any. To me, the lyrics are the main message and the musical instrumentation is there to enhance and intensify what is being said. It is frustrating to me how quoting the words to a song in my blog, stripped of the music, makes the words pale almost to insignificance to what they are when they have the music attached to them. (The words of the Psalms are a notable exception to this.)

Some of my favorite cruising music:

Great Big Sea
Kenny G
Electric Light Orchestra
Switchfoot ( a new discovery for me-- totally awesome)
Our Lady Peace
Linkin Park
Staind (edited version of course!)
Nick S -- when I have complete pieces and not just snippets of his music
Stan Rogers
Loreena McKennitt
Gordon Lightfoot
The Arrogant Worms (for comic relief)
The Cranberries
Michael Card
Who do you cruise to?

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