Old Friends, New Friends

In sixty-five years of life, I’ve listened to a lot of music, probably more than most.   There is so much music I love that I can’t possibly keep track of it all.  There are roughly five hundred CDs tucked away in the entertainment center downstairs and thousands of MP3s on the external drive of my office desktop.    Sometimes, I remember to stop on the way to my car and grab a couple of CDs that I’ve neglected.    I also occasionally rummage through my hard drive’s music folder looking for forgotten friends.   Just now, I found Winter’s Solstice, Volume 1, the beautiful Windham Hill Collection, A State of Wonder, Glenn Gould’s miraculous recordings of the Goldberg Variations, and The Very Best of Dire Straits (try Brothers in Arms), all of which have been neglected for too long.    In the our garage and storage unit are hundreds of LPs waiting silently for me to convert them to MP3s, a task I’ll never complete.    And for every song, sonata or concerto in my collection, there are hundreds of others I’ve loved and forgotten.

Just as Facebook has become the vehicle of choice for people to reconnect with old people friends, Sirius FM radio (with stations dedicated to each decade of popular music, popular music genres, classical, country and jazz) is where I’m most likely to come across an old musical friend.   Last week, during one trip to my client’s office, I got to sing along with Harden My Heart by Quarterflash (don’t you love I’ve Had Enough songs?) and My World is Empty Without You by the Supremes (which coincided with a breakup with my wife-to-be in college).    Less singable but certainly just as loved was Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Trio, jazz icons that I saw at Yale University my junior year in college (my cool jazz years).   Listen for Joe Morello’s incredible but subtle drum solo.

Just as meeting new friends seems to get harder as I get older, I don’t find as much new music as I once did.    An awful lot of popular music … the genres that I can stand … sound derivative and I’d rather listen to the originals.  And I admit, though I said I’d always be open to all kinds of music when my parents were putting down Elvis or the Beatles, rap and Hip-Hop are outside my comfort zone.  Besides, I’m fussier about friends these days, both musical and human.   The big record stores like Tower Records where you could go and listen to new recordings are all gone and recently Border’s – which I loved for their listening stations – has eliminated their music section.    Barnes and Noble seems to be the last holdout.   Let me introduce you to two new friends I met there.    The first is Shelby Lynne’s Just a Little Lovin’, a tribute to Dusty Springfield.    Not only are the vocals amazing, the simple, sparse instrumental accompaniment (a quartet of drums, bass, guitar and piano) is perfect.   My other find is the Ahn Trio, who combine chamber and popular music with astonishing results on Music for My Favorite Insomniac.    It’s been years since I’ve been stunned by a piece of music like I was the first time I heard The Magic Hour on Barne’s and Noble’s listening station.   It is truly so beautiful it hurts.

To paraphrase a well known cliche – So much music, so little time.

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