Monday, August 27, 2012

Eight Tracks, Vinyl, and Classical Music

Musical windows are that period in your (usually) young life when you first experience the magical and wondrous feelings that music can bring to your soul. All the traumas of life; first love, heartache, disappointment, pending adulthood, lost love, romance, travel and a million other mysteries that make up one’s young life can be perfectly encapsulated and immortalized in a song…usually to a porous mind eager to absorb all the nuances of life ahead.

Musical windows can be born anyplace and at anytime. My musical window originated in grade school around 4:30 each morning as I donned my galoshes, heavy jacket, mittens and knit hat. Then it was off to deliver newspapers to a customer base that assumed the Saint Paul Pioneer Press would always be on their front steps before 6:00 am.

Under those layers of clothing was strapped my brand new Motorola salmon (pink) colored transistor radio tuned to KDWB, the only radio station in town according to my astute pop-culture friends.

I grew up on all of the classics of the 50s and early 60s, pop music, country crossover tunes, lingering hit parade relics, show tunes and anything else that caught my fancy. I didn’t discriminate about the music or the artists. If it moved me, I loved it. It’s what I call my classical music.

I began with my beloved 45-rpm records, graduated to vinyl and eventually moved on to tape and CDs. Melanie once tried to get me into her I pod but it wasn’t the same. I’m just now discovering iTunes. Why change to a new delivery medium if the old one works just as well. The music is the same no matter how it reaches your ears.

Then, as sometimes happens, I got sweet revenge. The younger set (that would be my kids) read about vinyl having a purer sound than your average CD and they asked if I had any. “You know, Dad, they’re black and the size of a medium pizza.” Of course, I answered in the affirmative and told them. “I’ll even let you hold one if you’re careful.” Oh, the wonder of musical revenge on the younger generation.

Today my kids laugh at my musical tastes until they find a tune they like and discover, much to their chagrin, that it’s just a cover tune for something that was done years ago by one of my favorite artists. Seriously, they ask. Seriously, I reply with a grin.

For two kids who hated band and thought it torture that we made them stay in all through high school, I find it curiously satisfying to hear them both talk about their own children having to be in band themselves…when they’re old enough…whether they want to be or not.

Of course, the fact that I introduced Melanie to the Beatles and Brian to Led Zeppelin isn’t lost on them either. In turn, they’ve turned me onto their kind of music. I find it mildly curious that we’ve gone from my love of folk music of the sixties (Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton and Ian & Sylvia (“Four Strong Winds”) to a revival of the alternative folk rock music of today with The Lumineers, Elephant Revival, Trampled by Turtles, Old Crow Medicine Show, Julia and Angus Stone and numerous other great groups and artists. It’s a musical exchange I relish.

Music speaks a special language to many of us. It raises our blood pressure and pumps adrenaline into our veins. It inspires us. It feeds our fondest wishes. It comforts us in times of romantic encounters and coats past memories with soothing pastels that belie the reality of our past entanglements. It is that multicolored rainbow that follows the hail and thunder of lost loves. It helps us think wonderful thoughts and harbor grand visions of a life that could be, should be, might be but seldom is.

Certain songs become indelible imprints of moments in time that we want to hold onto forever. A faction of our life perfectly captured by some song that brings back the sights and sounds and emotions of some unforgettable experience.

It’s an elixir for our soul. A balm for our pains. Music is a narcotic I eagerly ingest each day. A lifelong addiction I relish. My love of music is a wonderful heritage I want to pass on to my grandchildren and feed their addiction as well. To help them create their own musical window, rich with the soothing sounds that satisfies their souls.

So I’ll stick to my vinyl and tapes and CDs and let my kids find the newest capsule for their tunes. The grandkids will be ahead of us in no time. Hopefully they’ll find their own musical window and despite the differences in tune-carriers, we can all share the music together.

Then we’ll all be able to claim our own version of classical music.

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