Most people like music yes? On the rare occasion I meet someone that doesn’t like music or doesn’t have a single cd, tape, mp3 or any of them old yokes I can’t remember the name of (joke!) or even any apparatus on which to play music, I tend to get very suspicious as to their mental stability. Lots of people listen to music casually while at work or while travelling and rarely ‘really’ listen to their music. For those of us music lovers, musicians, songwriters, etc for whom music is almost a religion or some kind of spirituality (me included), we tend to listen to music on a whole other level. Here’s what I like to do.
Go into a quiet room by myself late at night with no distraction or external stimulus. All senses except hearing should be shut off. I put on my favorite artist, Bob Dylan, The Doors….something timeless and brilliant and play it loud. Not loud enough to hurt or have the police around but loud enough to fill the room, drown all other stimuli and cause the merest of vibrations at least. Headphones aren’t the same. Many times I’ve been brought to tears just doing this simple thing – really listening to beautiful music. Not because it’s sad or nostalgic in some way, just because the melody, harmony, beat, tone and sentiment are great enough to overwhelm my senses and emotion. Tears of joy I suppose..
When I was in the band, we quite often deconstructed songs we wished to cover live. It might have been before Igot into computers because these days I’d just search for the tablature online but listening to a song over and over to try to get the lead guitar, bass or keyboard parts was a great education in how songs are written, built and recorded. I still listen to songs that way today and try to pick out each instrument and follow it along for the duration of the song. That’s why I say to people you could listen to a song 6 times in a row and have a completely new and great experience each time. Just listening to a great bassline can be hypnotic as can a cool drum beat. Listening to lead instruments can bring you on fantastic journeys and the whole thing together of course is just a symphony of color…even if it’s just a simple rock/pop song. Don’t even get me started on classical music!
The musical part of a song is always what stands out for me and what I listen to first. I could be years listening to some tracks before I totally cop the lyrics and meaning of a song and I’m quite often blown away when I finally figure out what a song is actually about! I’m also a fan of music biographies and have read many from Jim Morrison’s to Clapton, Hendrix, Dylan, Lynott and Bono and knowing a bit about the background of a band or artist can bring yet another dimension to the song.
If I could (and I have done in a past life..), I’d do noting else but listen to music forever..