Monday, January 04, 2010

My Music Opinion

In 1968, I was 6 years old, and this is what most of my babysitters were listening to. It was psychodelic folk, like this example of Gentle Soul's "See My Love", with the lovely vocals and pretty instrumentals. I could actually listen to this for awhile without getting tired of it.

It doesn't sound right as a digital recording, it needs to be a vinyl played on a turntable with everyone lying on the lawn on a sunny day looking up at the clouds for a few relaxing hours.

What's an "LP" you ask? I don't remember exactly what the initials stand for, but that's what we called record albums when they had two sides with at least a half hour's worth of music on each side. Yeah, you flipped it over. And if you were lucky, your record player did that for you. You also had a spindle that would hold several albums in a stack, and it would keep dropping them and the needle would swing its arm automatically for you and play each record for you.

I read an interview of Van Dyke Parks in Splice. He worked on albums as a whole concept back in the 60's and was involved with producing for several artists over the years like The Byrds, Gordon Lightfoot, Beach Boys and even U2. In fact, the keyboards in "See My Love" are played by Parks.

In the following video, Parks is accompanying Brian Wilson in "Orange Crate Art". Parks was Wilson's lyricist in his famous "Smile" project. I love it because it has poetic and comforting feel to the words. Yes, it's a pretty song. I miss that kind of music. Because of rock, every thing seems overly exciting--having to have a heavy beat and a loudness to it.

I was even listening to a local Christian radio, and the music seemed too noisy. There were a few songs with deeply felt and solidly Biblical lyrics, but the music just seemed overdone. Maybe I'm getting old, but what's wrong with just a vocalist and a piano? The only song I actually turned up was one by Jars of Clay, who seem to understand that a song needs to have a variation within it to express the meaning of the words. The song "Flood" is an older one by 10 years, but still very listenable without getting annoying.

Here is Parks in one of his earlier recordings:

There is an actual musicality to the song that keeps the joyful tone and reminds us that the song is about hoping in God. And I like the brassiness of the piece as well. It makes me feel like an Angel of the Lord is about to make an appearence any moment now. It sounds, well, alive. Not just noisy and loud with a beat.

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