Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Aging Music Lover

There comes a time in every man's life when he looks at himself in the mirror and realizes just how pathetically old he is. It's not the speckles of gray in his hair, or even the drooping chest that are most telling. No, that's just wisdom and gravity. I firmly believe, and have since I turned thirty, that age isn't what makes one old, per say. It's a state of mind. That's why I've recently adopted the philosophy that you're only as old as the bands you listen to. Which, incidentally, is why I was startled not long ago with the realization that the newest song in my playlist was by Taylor Swift... and what's worse, I loved that song. Even more disturbing was the realization that I had spent nearly a year downloading songs by the Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Kenny Rogers. Depressed yet? So was I...

... so was I.

Then there came a defining moment for me. A group of friends decided to do a little music sharing via mixed-CD's. It sounded fun... until I realized that I had virtually nothing to offer. Allow me to run down my mix for you, if I may: Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, U2, Jack Johnson, Cyndi Lauper, Bon Jovi, Boston, and John Denver. Cyndi Lauper? Yes. I think you're starting to see just how dire the situation had become for me. Shortly after this little wake-up call, I mustered the will and determination to look at myself in the mirror one day. Right then and there I made a promise to myself... and to God. I promised that I would find new music... or I would die trying. Well, I'm still breathing, which can mean only one thing.

I found new music, indeed - starting with a band called the Headlights. Remember the music we grew up listening to? Bands like Def Lepperd, Poison, and Milli Vanilli? Well, the Headlights sound nothing like them. In fact, their sound is hard for me to describe. Theirs is a distinct brand of rock 'n roll that combines modern melodic structures and layering with a sound that harkens back to the HI-FI analog recording quality of a distant, simpler era. The vocals - both male and female - have a sort of haunting quality about them. They've intentionally traded pristine accuracy for quirky nuances that ultimately make them more likable, in my mind. If you're looking for a contemporary reference to help you out here, look no further than the Shins, Oh Inverted World.

One of their songs that immediately grabbed me is off their Some Racing, Some Stopping album. It's called Get Your Head Around It. I'm serious... I could listen to the intro of this song for a very long time before losing my mind... and the entire song is great. From the opening lines "I read a book about a man who made mistakes all of the time," to the rhythmic change up at the bridge, to the closing, "In silence we'll both walk away"... this song is a great listen, over and over again. The only unfortunate thing about it is that the opening melody - which is so hooky, it will loop repeatedly in your mind for days - isn't revisited anywhere else in the song. Teenage Wonder from their Wildlife album holds a similar appeal for me, but features their female lead singer.

You know what, I just wish you would take a minute out of your day to follow the links I've provided above, and give those songs a thirty second preview. You might like what you hear.

Then again, I'm sure I've said too much.

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