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The Vital Importance of Music

Music lesson Staatliche Antikensammlungen from Wiki Media Common“Music has been an important influence in my life for about as long as I can remember.” Perhaps not a surprising thing to say as Music Editor, but while I make this statement on my own behalf, I suspect that it applies equally to no small number of HifiZine readers. In an almost Darwinian way, I can track my own evolution, from “School Days” on 75rpm yellow vinyl (I’m dating myself), to “Monster Mash” on a 45rpm single, to “Ringo” (my very first LP purchase), to discovering classical during my university days, to today’s Music Matters Blue Note 45rpm jazz reissues.

Music, more than any other art form, can exert a tremendous hold on one’s psyche. A song can make you happy by reminding you of something sad. Music can excite; it can calm. It is a powerful force.

As I analyze my own approach to music, I appreciate that much of the attraction stems from the “era effect,” that is the ability of music to bring back the past, in a really visceral way. For this reason, I’ve always felt that the music of one’s adolescence tends to make the greatest impact on the mind. For those of us fortunate to have come of age in the sixties and seventies (roughly from the advent of the Beatles to the advent of the Sex Pistols), the music of the era brings back meaningful emotions: success, failure, love, hatred, confidence, confusion.

But music is a moveable feast, and as I move further into my fifties, I acknowledge that over the past five or six years I have been buying music that I avoided as a teen: the words “Grateful Dead”, “Led Zeppelin” and “Allman Brothers” come to mind. Whether this is more a comment about my maturing musical tastes, or about the underlying quality of the music (or both) is up for debate.

One of the challenges of writing about music is the need to get out of the comfort zone. For me, that means listening to new music, music to which my children listen. At the same time, I enjoy the occasional reaction I get from my kids about my “old man” music. Just the other day I was in the living room with Heart’s “Dreamboat Annie” LP on the turntable. My 16-year-old son was also in the room, busy surfing the web on his laptop. The phone rang, and I cued up the tonearm to answer it. After hanging up, I forgot to cue the arm down again. Two minutes later my son asked “Dad, can you put that music back on again?” It was a great moment. I’m still smiling.



Image credit
The image used in this article is a photograph of a painting on an Ancient Greek vase (about 510 BC) depicting a music lesson. The image is in the public domain and was obtained from the WikiMedia Commons.


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