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The musical baton was passed to me

By June 14, 2005music

Ray Ward has passed me the musical baton.  He asks the following questions:

  • what is my total volume of music
  • what is the last CD I bought
  • what song is playing right now
  • what five songs do I listen to a lot because they are special to me
  • five people I’m passing the musical baton to

I’m going to respond, but in an extended post, so feel free to click on the ‘continue reading…’ link if you want to read my responses.

First, let me say that this exercise is good because it caused me to reflect on how much music has meant to me over the years. As a young kid the Beatles were a big deal. I saw them on TV and was obviously familiar with their music; same with the Monkees.  So I started out buying the small records, which are now archaic, known as 45s.  The first song I really went nuts over was Windy by The Association.  I listened to to it over and and over, memorized the lyrics, and sang along with it constantly.  Then I figured out how to play it on the piano, and gleefully showed my piano teacher –thinking she’d believe I was a musical prodigy for being able to learn a song by ear rather than relying on sheet music.  She wasn’t impressed.  She reprimanded me and told me not to do that anymore.  She told me to keep working on The Magic Froggy.

The Sixties were all around me and that was the only magic I was aware of.  My friends older brothers and sisters were listening to The Rolling Stones.  I Can’t Get No Satisfaction was their anthem.  They were all kind of edgy and liked the rebelliousness, which was scary to me in some way (I was ten years old then).  But the rebelliousness was everywhere.  Politicians and public figures like Martin Luther King were getting killed and there was rioting.  The Vietnam war was going on and the evening news had scary war footage and lists of people who were dying.  (Cue Buffalo Springfield’s famous song)

Still, when my dad would take my brother and I to the park it was filled with colorfully dressed people strolling around slowly muttering phrases like ‘hey, peace man.’  What was up with them?  My dad whispered to me that these people were known as ‘hippies.’  Apparently, they didn’t want to go fight a war in Vietnam.  So, even though they looked kind of weird, I decided that I liked them.

About this time I bought my first LP, actually it was two LPs: Alice Cooper’s Killer (because my friend Manny liked it and he was cool) and Elton John’s Madman Across the Water (because it was the unofficial soundtrack album for every party that I went to).  I discovered lots of other music, but most of it was the stuff you’d figure a kid would listen to.  Eventually I moved to Panama where I was exposed to a lot of new music.  Not really stuff I liked, but it was around me so I absorbed it nevertheless.  And I started playing the guitar because I found out that you were allowed to play songs by ear.

I moved on to looking for weird music that my friends didn’t know about, like a band called Crack The Sky.  But I liked regular stuff too and I was a huge Bruce Springsteen fan.  I wore the grooves out of Born to Run.  But then I went to college I was craving new ideas; fortunately there were a lot of people to help me find them.  I went to work at a record store in New Orleans called New Attitudes and spent much of my paycheck on records.  I discovered jazz music.  My roommate, Kemper, and I would spend a lot of time at a local jazz club called Rosy’s, and we heard people like Albert King, Roy Buchanan, Freddie Hubbard, Stanley Turrentine, and Dave Brubeck. 

My dad loved jazz so he was eager to fan this flame of enthusiasm.  He took us to jazz clubs and we wound up hearing a group of local jazz musicians that are now legendary: David Torkanowsky, Johnny Vidacovich, James Singleton and Steve Masakowski.  I somehow managed to take guitar lessons from Steve Masakowski and learned that not only was it okay to play music by ear, but it was also very hard and required a lot of discipline.

So I still love Jazz music and all the other stuff I listened to when I was growing up, but I also love finding stuff that is off the radar.  I have some great musician friends and they are a great source of recommendations.  But my kids have been my most recent musical advisors.  For example, last Saturday I went to go listen to a couple of my musician friends play and one of them, Danny, mentioned that he heard something by a talented new  kid:  Tyler Hilton.  Danny said his stuff was amazing.  I called my 13 year old daughter, Charlotte, and asked her if she could find out more about this guy. 

She sighed ("that is so yesterday").  Charlotte’s favorite ‘under the radar’ music now is Graham Colton Band.  When Charlotte starts her own music blog you’ll have the up to date music recommendations you really need.  Anyway, that’s my story about how I came to love music, and so, to wrap this up, here are my answers to the ‘baton’ questions:

Total Volume of Music:
Probably about 100 CDs, which I rarely buy any more.  My computer has 4280 songs or about 18.52 GBs, which is not my entire collection.  The rest is backed up or scattered around on other computers.

The Last CD I Bought:
I’ll translate this to ‘last album download’.  That would be Kenna’s New Sacred Cow.

Song Playing Right Now:
Round Here by the Counting Crows (It came up on iTunes random play)

Five Songs I Listen to a lot or that mean a lot to me:

  1. Cry of a Tiny Babe by Bruce Cockburn
  2. Unsung Psalm by Tracy Chapman
  3. All Blues by Miles Davis
  4. You Don’t Know Me by Ali Lefevre (made popular by Ray Charles)
  5. Old ’55 by Tom Waits

Five People to whom I passing the baton:

  1. Denise Howell
  2. Marty Schwimmer
  3. Dennis Kennedy
  4. Tom Mighell
  5. Rick Klau

I hope these guys don’t mind, but I chose them because over the years I’ve gotten some good musical recommendations from them here and there and so I’d like to see what they have to say to the ‘musical baton’ questions. 


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

3 Comments

  • Jim Calloway says:

    I used to have a copy of Crack the Sky’s Animal Notes on vinyl. I heard one of the cuts on late night FM radio and in the pre-Net days, it took quite a while to track down a copy of the album.

  • steven vore says:

    Hey, I have Crack The Sky’s _White Music_ album on vinyl. In fact I was just listening to it Tuesday evening; I got some software for capturing analog to MP3 and that’s the first album I put on the ‘table to try it out.

  • Great piece on the musical baton. Enjoyed it a great deal. Also wanted to drop you a note to let you know how much I enjoy your blog. Entertaining and with some great information.

    I heard much about you and your blog at TechShow from Reid Trautz, Tom Mighell and Jim Calloway, but did not get the chance to meet you. But I used the info at TechShow to jumpstart may own blogs — Hoosier Lawyer (legal stuff) and Hoosier Daddy (for fun)

    Saw you passed the “baton” to Tom. Twice he has been a speaker at the Indiana Solo & Small Firm Conference, which I organize for our state bar association. He is a top caliber speaker, and just a great guy. If you haven’t heard his musical parody group, Bar None, get Tom to send you a copy of the CD.

    We apparantly are about the same age, and share some common experiences with music — as do many in our “Vietnam era” generation. I have a special affection for New Orleans, so I enjoy the occassional references to your home town. Anyway, keep up the great work.

    — Steve Terrell

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