Posts Tagged ‘music’

I made an earlier post about how I came to know music in the pre-Internet Age. One thing I didn’t discuss was cover songs. Art gets regurgitated. Sometimes it’s an homage, a obscure reference, or sometimes a straight cover. We also have remakes and now even “reboots” in these exciting modern times.

There’s a lot that could be said about these efforts and the general response to them, but that’s for another time. In examining my own exposure to music, I realized something – some cover songs eventually led me to learn of the original artist.

A friend of mine made a comment to me on social media about how covers might diminish the originals because younger generations may first learn of the cover and never realize it was by someone else. I’m not making this post to agree or disagree, because it’s really up to the individual. Also, with the advent of the internet, everything changed. So much information is available at our beck and call. It’s unprecedented.

But back to my pre-Internet experience.

Though it took time for my passion for music to bloom, I eventually got into Mötley Crüe and the Thompson Twins. These two bands are obviously not related, except in one way – their covers. I heard the Crüe’s Helter Skelter and loved it. I mean, I loved it, and I had no idea it was a cover. Then the same happened with Thompson Twins’ rendition of Revolution. But I also happen to be a voracious reader, and one thing I used to do when listening to music was read everything I could on the album, cassette sleeve, c.d. booklet, etc.

I noticed that the same credits were not given on the two covers as all the other original songs. “Lennon-McCartney”? I’m sorry to say it took me some time to realize who they meant. At the time, I just wondered why the performing artists in question had not written these songs. It took me a while to get into music and realize the whole idea of covers.

This didn’t directly lead into my love for The Beatles, and once I did dive down that rabbit hole, I realized there were so many great songs of theirs I already knew. I eventually got to better understand music and the music industry. I would eventually discover other covers I loved that I didn’t initially realize were covers. I also found remakes I thought were equal to or an improvement on the original. To avoid any online flames, I won’t mention which one’s.

Covers are not necessarily a good or bad thing. They do not change the value of the original. They may obscure the original; they may lead someone to the original. For me, I say do those covers, remakes, even reboots. We might get a lot of crap, but isn’t the occasional diamond in the rough worth it?

Do you listen to music when you read or write? Do you like to have something going on in “the background”, or is it something particular to set a mood?

Personally, I am very particular about music when I read or write. When I read? Well, there is almost nothing suitable. Any music at all proves distracting, and I’ll soon realize I’ve gone through several pages and have no idea what I just read! When I was in college, I tried playing music when I’d study to hopefully make study more entertaining. Nope. I had to turn off the tunes.

I know some people enjoy having background music when they read, whether or not it fits the mood of what they’re reading. Some have told me that without the music they can’t concentrate. I am amazed by this. More power to you.

Reading to Music

When it comes to writing, I also generally choose silence over music. I have a similar dilemma where the music distracts me rather than helping. There are times, though, when I really want to set that mood, and the music can be inspiring.

Firstly, it has to have no lyrics or be on a very low volume. I wrote an early novel to a particular album that helped to inspire it. There were, of course, lyrics. In order to make it work, I had it set on such a low volume you might wonder if I heard it. I did. I needed it to bleed into my consciousness, sneak in and find a comfortable place.

I’ve also used instrumentals. If the music contains no lyrics, it works much better for me. I have written to the scores from the Hannibal t.v. series and even some select tracks from video game soundtracks I found that worked.

Hannibal OST

In the end, it seems that the use of music when reading and writing is as varied as we are. It reflects not only our personalities but our methods. I might use some music as writing background that I’d otherwise not ever listen to outside its original presentation. It’s carefully chosen to craft the feel. Isn’t that what music is? Something of a reflection?

What do you listen to when you read and write, if you listen to anything at all?


 

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Finding Music

Posted: January 21, 2020 in Blog
Tags: , , ,

I grew up in a household that wasn’t terribly focused on music. In a recent conversation with my mother, she mentioned how she and my dad loved showtunes and had the soundtracks of some of the more popular musicals. I asked her if they listened to them with we kids, and she, of course, said ‘no’. No particular reason why; it just didn’t happen. The radio was rarely on when we were around the house, even though we had a nice stereo that my father, the engineer, had built from a kit. It just wasn’t a musical family.

My two sisters and myself did get piano lessons. This was a sort of “expected” thing. You just put your kids in there and waited to see what would happen. My older sister excelled at it, and I do remember sitting on the bench with her or in a nearby chair and listening as she played some of the greats of classical music. She even played some songs from films. I heard her laboring over “The Entertainer“, and I loved it.

This didn’t get me exposed to any popular music of the time, though. The other exposure we had to music was via the 8-track player in our Buick. I think it was a Skylark. I don’t remember, but it was curvy, white, and fast. The tunes, though, not so much. My parents’ vast collection consisted of three tapes, all greatest hits from Glen Campbell, John Denver, and Elvis Presley. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t lend to too much rockin’ in the car as we drove around.

John Denver's Hits

As you might surmise from my mention of 8-track and the Buick Skylark, this was before the internet. You couldn’t just get on your computer or device and find an endless treasure trove of nearly all music ever recorded. But wait, what about MTV? Well, that started in 1981, and by then, my father had moved us out to the country. So, even in those days of nascent cable television, it wasn’t even available where I grew up.

What was a poor lad to do? Well, buy records from K-Tel, of course! These commercials would come on, and during them, samples of songs would play over some announcer lauding the benefits of the product. There’d also be eye-catching graphics of the contributing artists available beyond just those chosen for a short audio sample during the ad. The albums were actually good deals with great collections, so my parents got some for us.

K-Tel_logo

Before long, we had K-Tel’s Full Tilt, Soundwaves, Rock 80, and Pure Rock. This allowed me exposure to many new songs as well as being able to listen to some I had caught on the radio during those rare few times when listening to the local pop or rock station. “My Sharona” was the earliest one I remember hearing when it was new, and I loved it. This was the first song that actually got me to turning on the radio in hopes of hearing it. When we got that record, I could listen to it all I wanted. Other songs to quickly become favorites were “I Was Made For Loving You“, “I Wanna Be Your Lover“, and “Don’t Look Back“. There were many, many more. I’ve provided the links; feel free to check them out. I’d while away hours just listening and grooving to these songs. Without these records, I would have never heard this gem, and they provided my first exposure to New Wave, which I loved. It was well worth it. What an education.

Numan SNL

In time, I learned more about music and was able to drive myself the long trek to the nearest mall or record store to scratch my itch. I owed a lot, though, to those K-Tel records. My mom says she still has them. Maybe I should dig them out and dust ’em off for a play. Oh, except, no record player. Ah, well, at least we have YouTube.