Saturday, April 12, 2014

Unfinished Works: music with meaning

In 2010, I was writing down a lot of notes about music. I had an idea in my head for a while about exploring a deeper meaning in songs. I had a couple thoughts in my head and started writing them down. Here's what I have:

Music *Go somewhere w/ this info...

- first became aware of "mainstream"/"pop culture" around 8th grade

- first song that I realized told a story:
     "Shooting Star," Bad Company ... driving home from Grandpa's as a little kid at night. Closed my eyes, let imagery hit me

- first song I realized had a deep message:
     "Ohio," Neil Young ... middle school, driving home from school, heard opening line & knew it was about "something," not sure what @ time...

* * *

I guess we'll start from the beginning here. The summer of 1999 was really the first time I became aware of pop culture, this idea that things are presented to us and we accept it without thinking. "This is the top song in the country." "Oh, okay."

We could say I lived a sheltered life. Nothing that was my mom's fault or anything; she didn't specifically try to shield me from anything. I just wasn't aware of things out of my bubble I lived in until I was in the 8th grade. I remember asking a guy in his 30's if he had ever heard of Lenny Kravitz in 1999. He had been releasing albums for 10 years at that point. But, I had just discovered him and others.

To expand upon that point, I probably would have written something to the effect of pop culture being manufactured and people who don't know any better get sucked into it. Me at 12, 13 years old, I didn't give it a second thought. I liked what they told me to like and eagerly bought up what they told me to buy.

The next point I wrote down ... At a young age, music to me was words and sounds. I didn't realize the power that music had to tell stories and make you feel certain feelings. As a young kid, before I made that pop culture realization, I remember hearing Bad Company's "Shooting Star" late one night. My mom and I left my grandpa's house and began the drive back to Flatwoods Road, where we lived. I closed my eyes and listened to the words. I realized it was telling a story. I didn't realize at the time that the story was of rock star excess, but I picked up on that aspect as I got older.

Final point ... One day in middle school, probably 6th grade, my mom picked me up and I sat in the car as she drove home. The now-familiar opening of Neil Young's "Ohio" began. I listened to the song and realized that he was describing something. I just wasn't sure what. A story about Richard Nixon and soldiers in Ohio, with four deaths reported. Years later, I would learn that Neil Young wrote this as a protest of the 1970 Kent State shootings. This was a song about something real, something intense, and I learned that music could bring issues like that to the forefront.

I don't know what I would have done with those three nuggets of information I wrote down. And that's likely why I didn't do anything with them.

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