I’ve had three conversations this week that included the statement that the only music that really moves you is the music of your youth. Whether your youth was the 1940s big bands and crooners, the 1950s nascent rock and roll, the 1960s psychedelic stuff or any other period really doesn’t matter. It’s the music of our youth that sticks with us and passes the test of time. It’s that music to which we always go back, given the choice. It’s that music that we consider the best. It’s that music that is the measuring stick for all other music in our lives.
I was born in late 1960 – too late to be a real Boomer; too early to be a real Buster – a part of that “in-between” bunch with some Buster sensibilities trapped in a Boomer body. I consider my “youth” (teens and early 20s) to be somewhere around 1972 through 1982 or so.
The first album I remember buying with my own money was a Marshall Tucker Band cassette. I bought the very first Kool & The Gang album in the same purchase (think “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging”). But I loved – and still love music of all kinds.
I was destined for a career as the next great high school band director, so I began to get into “serious” music as a teenager. Looking back on it now, I was quite the musical snob. And there – finally! – is the point of this post.
If I had to identify the “real” music of my youth, it would be classical and jazz. Stuff like Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mahler, Wagner, and Beethoven. Stuff like Maynard Ferguson, Stan Kenton, Chuck Mangione, and Chick Corea. In college, I discovered Copland (shook his hand!), Bruckner, and Bernstein (Leonard and Elmer!) I discovered Miles, Coltrane, Ella, Mel Torm�, and Ol’ Blue Eyes.
I loved music so much that at one point I hated it. Does that make sense? When I realized that music was getting to be work, I started to despise it. But when I realized my path was going in a different direction, music became pure enjoyment once again.
Since then, I’ve found goodies in almost every genre of music. The Tams, The Embers, The Catalinas, The Fantastic Shakers, Earth, Wind & Fire, Luther Vandross, and others recorded the soundtrack of my college years. I took – and still take – long trips up Windham Hill. I boot-scooted with my friends in low places. I’ve praised and worshiped. I’ve gone with the Orinoco Flow. I’ve been 2 Legit 2 Quit. Lately I’ve learned how to dismantle an atomic bomb.
If it’s been recorded, I’ve probably listened to something like it.
OK, OK, back to the point of this rambling post…
Today, I remembered the music of my youth. I re-discovered the lush vocal jazz sounds of the Singers Unlimited. I’m listening to them right now, and I’ve rushed back to those days when I didn’t really have a care in the world. I’m loving it all over again. I wish I hadn’t been such a musical snob back then. I probably would have enjoyed it even more.