Thinking About: Music is One of the Backdrops To My Daily Life

Another Sunday morning. Today is a clear blue sky, in contrast to yesterday’s somewhat cloudy day. Just a reminder how quickly the weather can make changes to the backdrop of each day. Especially now in these days of what feels like an accelerated Fall. The trees are quickly shedding their leaves, while the temperatures play a roller coaster ride of cold at night followed by unseasonable warm during the day. But that’s a normal chaotic weather pattern for Tejas at this time of the year. I recall Novembers in the past with snowfall of two to three inches (significant measurement for Tejas) and Yule temps close to the nineties (sometimes in the same calendar year).

Like most folks, I have lived elsewhere in my lifetime. Germany, England, Alabama, Louisiana, and a wide variety of other places that are small footnotes in my mind. Each had their own weather patterns. Each provided a unique experience within my life. Each have deep memories that are played against the backdrop of those chaotic weather patterns.

There are always two backdrops for my daily life – the weather and the music playing in the background. Daily observation of my surroundings provides my connection with the weather. Music, on the other hand, comes from my extensive collection of artists, typically plied through my (now ancient) Bose headphones.

Music is a constant and consistent passion for me. I adore excellent musicianship in whatever form it comes in. Though I do admit that I have never what I would consider to be quality musicianship within the rap genre. I consider that to be more of a personal taste thing than anything else though. When I was much younger I was enthralled with the raw stylings of the up-and-coming genre of thrash metal. The sound was raw, primal, strong, brash, and loud. I can easily recall the beginnings of Metallica, the earliest pieces from Mercyful Fate, the original EP from Slayer, the earliest effort of Exodus, Cirith Ungol, and so many others. Plus, there the bands that never made it big – Highway Chile, Dissident Beast, and many, many more. I remember how exciting it was to find an artist I had never heard and playing their recordings for the first time.

Eventually, I stumbled across the genre of “Progressive Rock” which encompassed artists such as Rush, The Shy, Eloy, Yes, Asia, and so many others. The focus was on the musicianship, which had me marveling at the abilities of Neil Peart, geddy Lee, Chris Squire, Alex Lifeson, Steve Howe, and so many others. As I noted before, I am always excited by the technical wizardry of so many musicians.

Eventually, over the years, I was exposed to artists that fit what some call “Pagan music.” Much of it is in the vein of the more modern 1990s singer/song-writer element, which encompasses areas of rock, folk, celtic, and other genres with a stronger emphasis on Pagan or Goddess themed lyrics. My snobbery on good musicianship continues to pull me in this area as well. From Wendy Rule’s ethereal voice to the excellent musicianship as group showcased by Spiral Dance to the great songs by Jim Faupel and the awesome tones of Kiva, along with the fun and playful measures of Barefoot Bran – there’s a lot to like for me to enjoy within this so-called genre.

Some Pagans I know look for artists that will help accentuate their public rituals. I grok what they are looking for and they why behind it, but none of that drives what I need from music. Music is the background of my daily life. Right now, for example, I am listening to Christian artist Amy Grant’s “Carry You” from a 1998 Christian artist compilation. I know there are folks that will look at that as blasphemy or as “not being a Pagan.” All I can do is shrug and keep typing. As I noted, I look for music that heightens and enhances my day. My library has thousands of songs from all areas of music. All of it is digital in format, so I can play it directly from my computer. In terms of size, I have approximately 395 gb of music. A large portion of that is audience recording of the Grateful Dead and various iterations of the band (The Dead, The Other Ones, Dead & Company, The jerry Garcia Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, The Mickey Hart Band, etc). I freely admit that I love the Grateful Dead’s music…it provides inspiration throughout my day. On top of that, I know that the Grateful Dead is not everyone’s cup of tea. So I rarely will espouse them as “the greatest music of all-time” – with the exception of what I listen to.

Music, for me, is that background that is always there. It’s the soundtrack of my daily life. There are memories tied up in the music I listen to. Some good, some awesome, some…not so much. I don’t utilize music, recorded or not, in my rituals. For me, it’s a touch of a distraction, but like I noted – I know people who do. It works for them. Just like I find no realistic value in rap music. I know those who do find value and entertainment in that genre. It works for them. It provides something with a strong purpose and calls to their soul – that’s what matters most. Not what I think about it. I listen to the music that calls to my soul, to the music that provides me with the extra push I need to get through writing something, to the music that adds an extra push to my daily routines, to the music that stirs my emotions. That may not be why you listen to music…and that’s perfectly find and absolutely all right. I can only provide why music is a driving force within my daily life. I can only posit what it might mean to others. And likely, I’d be dead wrong. Each person would need to explain what it means to them…and only if they desired to do so. There should never be judgment in our individual musical tastes, at least in my opinion. #TwoQuid

–Tommy /|\

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