Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Music

Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.

--William Congreve

Such a familiar quotation, but it's true. What you are listening to says a great deal about who you are.

Everyone knows I listen to jazz. My parents listened to singers who have been given the moniker "crooners"; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Bing Crosby. They grew up in the 1950's, when the solo jazz artist was in his prime. Swing's time had passed with the end of World War II. People listened to music. I remember my father, who couldn't carry a tune in a dump truck, singing all these jazz standards to the cows as he milked them. It doesn't seem at all a stretch to be a jazz lover now. "Lady What-ga"? Rap? Isn't that another term for knocking on something, like a door?

I fire up my iMac, turn on iTunes and let the music flow. I have a little over 5 days worth of music. In true collector form, there a number of tunes for which I have 4 or 5 versions, my favorite jazz standard, "April in Paris", is an example. My iTunes play list probably consists of 70% jazz in some form and the rest in classical, pop, celtic, folk, Christmas, movie music and other eclectic categories.

When I'm contemplative, there is nothing like Copeland, Mussorgsky, Grieg or Joshua Bell. I don't usually have music playing when I read because I find myself pulled towards interaction with the music when I have chosen interaction with the printed word. When I play World of Warcraft, the games sounds and musical snippets get repetitive, so I'll turn on my iTunes, set the sort for some category and let it go. In the summer, if I'm sitting on the deck, I'll some times crank up the volume on the computer, which sits right by the window, and pump Ella and Louis and Frank and Dizzy out into the atmosphere. The Beach Boys can't be beat for driving around Chicago with the top down on a July Sunday.

As I'm cleaning my house in preparation for a visit from my daughter, I've had 'happy' music on. Generally, this consists of peppy jazz, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman with some Glenn Miller thrown in for good measure. But I also include my favorite Scottish band, Old Blind Dogs, in the category of 'happy' music. The skirl of the pipes, the bouzouki, the fiddle make a nice counterpoint to buffing windows, dusting pictures and door frames and sorting and shredding mountains of papers.

I was listening to WDCB, College of DuPage. Last night, I turned on the radio before going to bed, just to unwind. They were running promos of upcoming programs and this music came out of my radio in response to a promo for "Mountain Stage". It was peppy. It was bouncy. It was happy. Who is this? Pine Leaf Boys. Never heard of them.

So, this morning, I did some research. Oh man. I will have to find a way to get one of their CDs. I could play this music a lot. Give them a listen. Go to the "Media" tab and click on the videos. This is infectious music. I see they were at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, the venue where Carole and I saw a lot of Old Blind Dogs. I couldn't afford to attend a concert there right now, but Chicago has a lot of free festivals during the summer. Maybe they will turn up on the venue for one of them. I'm thinking, like OBD, listening to them live is much more of an experience.

Tonight, I work on the living room. Maybe some Nat King Cole?

Beverage: China Black Tea


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