Think of all those grooves, all those imprints on shiny discs, all those bytes waiting patiently and quietly for someone to come along and turn them on. So many millions of recorded tunes exist and each represents innumerable hours of rehearsal and preparation. Each has a history of creation and a history of emotion. Each tune is an attempt to say something, move someone, or do something. Every song is a memory for everyone who has ever played it or sang it or heard it. Yikes! That’s huge! That’s wild! It’s giving me chills.
They’re all so unassuming, when they’re not playing. The discs or records or tapes seem so innocent as they sit on the shelf or in boxes in the basement, and tunes embedded in hard drives or traveling through the ether seem even more abstract. I can read the title on the box or on a list, but that’s like being told about a kiss, rather than actually receiving one. Dang, even less than that. Music is a power in this world. It has the potential for danger. It has the potential for healing. It has the potential for liberation. Holy Jesus! Let my children hear music!
Mingus said that. It’s hard to remember what is contained on all those tracks. The inspiration. The explosion of joy. The infinitely deep well of sadness. The plain old funky good times. All that and more. Every time I hear a tune it has the potential to open me up to feeling and to the opportunity of understanding something that could change my life. Does that sound like too much? Am I losing it? Well, of course, it’s too much talking and not enough listening. Lyrics are good, melody is important, but even if it’s pure sound shaped by intention, it lies there waiting for someone to begin to hear it and internalize it; it’s waiting to begin to spread all that rhythm around. It wants a chance to lift every boy and girl out of their seats and get them dancing with their neighbors. It wants to drive them wild. Move them. Set their hair on fire.