Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Soundtrack to Life

Is the intense love of music and the emotional and social connection it instills, as well as the cultural identity it can provide, a modern phenomenon? Is it something that only infects some of us? Is there a gene for music appreciation?

Music is one of the most unifying and yet deviding elements of American Culture today. We are divided by class and race. Music is an element of the identity we profess, whether we are a headbanger, a gangsta, a cowboy, or a wine and cheese taster. Yet within out subcultures we can share songs that fill you full of memory and sense of time or tone that can take you out of your current reality.

What makes music so vital to some, yet just background noise to others? To me, music is like a vital element to living. I need it as much as I need sleep. I don't need just sounds, I need music. What I think of music and of sound or of noise is what someone else might find enlightening. That variation is part of the mysticism of music that defies logic. How can people not at least like some of the Beatles? I know it is hard to fathom but it is true.

Then there are those who just like background noise, just a monotone movie soundtrack that adds a little foundation to their existence, but nothing they will remember the next time they hear the same song. Think of a Ritz cracker to the cheese. Bland on bland. Are those who like easy listening looking to just numb their brains to the pain? Do those who instead embrace as wide view of music reach out to it the variations that contain, dear I say it, soul? I think it is really more like emotion, depth, or something more than just contentment.

I like music that has power, emotion, beauty, complication, and is vibrant. I listen to it for the emotion it can cause me to emote. Music is not like the drapes or a seat cushion. It is art. Art is what I think separates the wheat from the chaff, and the music from the mind numbing drivel. How we tell the difference is what I think is the rub. That is where the conflict and division comes in.

Why though are more of those under say age 50 more into music, than those over it? My parents for example love music, but they don't just turn on the stereo and listen to it, while they do something else. I do that constantly. Is that just us or is it another element of just growing older?

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