Seeking Imperfection …
When I have the misfortune of listening to popular radio, I’m easily annoyed at the sterile perfection of … everything … right down to the predictable production with echoed chorus vocals, and synthetic classical instrumentation added sparingly for effect and “depth”. The most enjoyable part pf any hit radio experience for me is when a chart topper from the 90s gets a turn at the wheel, and this lovely sharp contrast of refreshingly beautiful imperfections appear. It reminds me that there are actual human beings performing, but then the moment is gone and back they go to pitch-perfect, condenser-rich, focus-tested, pasteurized pop.
Where Have All the DJs Gone
Anytime I drive alone, I love tuning in to my favourite station which is always brimming with fresh ideas and real musicians sharing their message in an organic and natural way. Time-permitting, a steady dose of live shows would be the preferred way to stay musically connected, but while rushing between destinations these rare radio gems are a welcome ear-full. It makes me wonder what it must have been like to grow up listening to revolutionary music spun by pioneers like Jocko Henderson, Kid Leo & Margaret Anderson … in the present though, I’m thankful to be able to still settle in to a meaningful mini, musical voyage with trippy, educational monologues from old salts like Randy Bachman & Holger Petersen.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that some performances don’t matter, you might not always be in the mood for a stellar performance, and the bassist may be drunk, and you maybe there’s a few too many drunks near the stage for your liking … but somebody somewhere in the back of the hall is hanging on your every note, and you’ll probably never know it but you might be the most inspiring thing they hear at just the right moment to make a difference.
Every Note and Every Silence Too
Deep down inside, I know that popular tunes and crappy radio do not represent the musical majority, and it’s beyond reassuring to hear incredible songs that make me feel like every single note was earned, and every silence intentional. Slight pauses at just the right moment, making me want more but artfully never getting it … sometimes I could just jump out of my skin it makes me so happy. I can’t think of any more satisfying musical moment than to be witness to genuine creativity that I know will never happen quite the same way again. Even a recorded moment of musical brilliance has layers that only reveal themselves over time; it’s what makes all of us, the performers and admirers of genuine music, so committed to the passion of our craft.
The “same three chords” may often be used as an excuse for many upstarts to follow an easy path with quick returns, but a dedicated artist takes every single instance of those chords and makes them their own. I caught the tail end of a James Taylor song not so long ago that reminded me so clearly of how important it is to take every note very seriously, but at the same time playfully … oh what magic this creative tension brings.
One chord, one perfect spot light, it’s all you need, there are no excuses for a bad melody, only lazy performance and influence from the negative forces around us; it takes courage and dedication to always be on your game.
Music Is Important
This all reminds me of how important music is, especially music that comes from the heart (and rarely from popular radio). Those old DJs from days gone by, they were more than personalities; they were the first real music critics; not there to tear music apart, but to introduce us to the unknown and make us expand our ideas about the world. There are still good music critics today, but the most important critic is you … don’t be duped into the constant bombardment of popular crap, sure they may have a great morning show and some funny pranks, but the music is elsewhere and waiting for you to rediscover it in all it’s raw glory. You’ll know it when you find it because you’ll feel something you’ve never felt before, or maybe just haven’t felt for a very long time.