Mercy Spurs Imagination

I don’t know if I’ll ever figure out how when and why music affects me (or anyone else) the way it does.  I have been on kind of auto-pilot as far as music choice lately; The Dead, Dylan, a little Marley, but the other day I was driving home and I heard about 20 second of Cannonball Adderly’s “Mercy Mercy Mercy” while someone said, “Your listening to WNHN, community radio of the Capital region,” and my tastes were instantly transformed.  I got home and plowed through all the old jazz / funk I used to listen to endlessly.  Every song is THE best.  Oh, this part right here, there is just nothing better.  Wait, wait…. Isn’t that the coolest.  And while my three- and one- year old daughters did not respond with anything close to, “yeah daddy-o, this hip cat really knows how to lay it down,” the mood in the house was just ever so slightly lighter.  My mind raced, my imagination took me back to 1974.  Imagine seeing this shit performed by the original artists, in a 250-300 seat, smoke-filled club where you can see the sweat bead up and drip off the band members’ heads, you can hear them discuss what to play next, you can feel the bass in your chest, all your troubles and cares in and about the world are miles and miles away.  I wanted to hear more and more and more.  There is just so much out there and I need to hear it all right now.

How does this happen?  Like I said, I literally heard 20 seconds of a song, and it like flicked a switch upstairs or something.  Does anything else in life have a hold of the human brain like music?   I’m sure there is a neurological explanation for it, but part of me doesn’t want to know, it might dim some of the mystique behind it all.  I have begun to use it as a self-assessment tool to see where I am at in life.  A couple weeks ago, in my Dead-Dylan-Marley phase, things were kind of smooth sailing.  The summer was coming to a lazy end.  The entire family was healthy and happy.  All the bills were paid.  Now, the autumn is headed our way, and I always seem have a combination of nostalgia for years past, and anticipation for the one arriving.  I guess the jazz / funk I was just bumping has the same effect, thinking about the history behind the music while getting the creative / imaginative juices primed as well.  Just the thought provoking motivation I need to design the winterized edition of our chicken coop.

Ya know, this might just be what motivates people to play music for 30, 40, 80 years.  Exploring within oneself must be great, but being able to touch the lives of people in the same room as you, across the country, and people not yet born must be a phenomenal gift.  While I have no chance to ever come close to playing a cohesive note, I am thankful for the artists in the past, present, and future that will share their gifts.

Couple other musical thoughts:

1)      How is it that when we hear good songs repeatedly over a short period of time we get sick of it (anything by Adele), but when a horrible song is played over and over, we grow to tolerate and even sorta like it (anything by Katy Perry)?

2)      I find it amazing that musicians have not run out of things to play on the guitar.  There are six strings.  How many hundreds of years has the guitar been around?  And people keep coming up with new stuff?  I know the type of guitar has something to do with it, but with the millions of people who have learned guitar over the last couple of centuries, I am just amazed that artists keep inventing new sounds, rhythms, and styles out of one instrument with six strings.


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