I have been thinking a lot lately about why some music attracts my interest and other music does not. Then I thought about the music of two of my contemporaries who for reasons that will soon become obvious will remain nameless. Both of these contemporaries are solid technical musicians and prolific composers. They are also both very well known.
Musician One creates very ornate and highly technical music which in many ways is beyond reproach. Yet his music doesn’t reach me and I have repeatedly attempted to like it more. I respect it and it can be pleasant to listen to but it does not connect with me.
Musician Two also is also highly proficient and even more prolific but his music often reaches me on deep level and has on more than one occasion inspired me.
So why this difference I asked myself?
I then sought out interviews both written and on YouTube with these two composer/players.
Here is what became obvious. Musician One was arrogant, quite conceited and, for me, the tell tale sign of self-absorption was when he occasionally referred to himself in the third person.
Musician One also disparaged musicians who were not his equal.
On the other hand, Musician Two had a sweetness of character and was profuse in his praise of others. He had a humor about himself as well. This comes through in his music which is often touching and poignant as well as light and joyful without being the least bit trite. On the contrary.
Obviously this sweetness of character and humility appeal to me. I strive for these same qualities myself but far be it from me to judge myself. That is impossible. I think these qualities I hold in high esteem extends beyond music and to authors, painters, clergy and these days politicians as well. This is a simple enough comparison but I never quite broke it down to the basic elements before. I have learned something here.
I am looking for an earnest humanity in all endeavors.
Here endeth the sermon.
My mother was a very keen music fan. Even in my pre-school years I remember listening to her records with her on her tiny Hi-Fi set. She collected 45 RPM 7 inch singles. In those days the “singles” had picture sleeves which added to the fascination for me. Her favorites were Hank Williams (Senior, that is, not his less talented offspring) and The Everly Brothers.
I developed a sort of record buying fixation and I would convince her to purchase a new record every week. This was a big thrill to me. We would walk down to Red Owl each week and I would scour their small record rack. Red Owl was a grocery chain but the store two blocks from our house had magazines and records as well.
I got my first guitar at the age of six and this interest in recorded music only intensified.
I so wanted to make records that I would ask my mother to write my name on the label of a record (one I was less fond of) just to see what my name would look like on a recording.
My career choice was thus made at a very tender age. This is probably inadvisable but my passion was pretty intense and those embers still have some glow left.
I have since made and played on many records including 45s, LPs, cassettes, CDs and MP3’s.