What does music mean to you?
In a recent “Griff’s Riffs,” arts and entertainment writer Griffin Kelly asked you to email him at email@example.com to let us know what music means to you. And you took him up on the offer. Here are just a few of your responses:
‘I was going to be a Beatle’
I grew up an only child, which meant I spent a lot of time alone and became my best friend. I was born in 1960, so I was around to experience Beatlemania. The early ’60s Beatles sound stirred something inside me, and when I saw them on Ed Sullivan and watched “Help” and “Hard Days Night,” it was decided. I WAS GOING TO BE A ROCK STAR. I was going to be a Beatle.
So, my parents bought me my first guitar. I was planning on a nice, shiny red electric number I picked out of the Sears catalog. Nope. I ended up with a plastic acoustic guitar with nylon strings that sat about an inch above the fretboard. News flash … a little kid can’t be a Beatle with a plastic acoustic guitar with strings he can’t make chords with.
We had a music store in town, right where the Blue Moon is now. It was Berghorn’s Music, run by Dell Berghorn. Real nice man. My folks set me up with guitar lessons, and my teacher was really cool. He asked me what music I wanted to play, and I told him the Beatles. Most teachers start out with junk like “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.” Maybe he sensed that would be a guaranteed fast-track to my last visit. Unfortunately, he got drafted and went to Vietnam. Wonder whatever happened to him. He was cool. I could write a whole chapter of a book, but space is limited here.
Music has always been a huge part of me. I graduated from high school with a music diploma, and had it not been for music, I would have quit school. Music even helped me through the state police academy. During our lunch breaks, I would go back to my quad and listen to W.A.S.P. and Queensryche on my Walkman to get psyched up for the next round of s***s and giggles dished out by our instructors.
As I rapidly approach geezerhood, music is as much a part of me as my liver. Give me some old country with pedal steel guitar, old Beatles, ’40s swing, ’50s doo-wop, hard classic rock, Mozart or Bach, and I’m in my happy place. Put me on stage, playing in a band, and I AM a Rockstar (in my delusional world). Music is my oxygen.
Good question, tough but fair. Hard to choose, but “Grievous Angel” (1973) by Gram Parsons is my favorite. I can still listen to it and appreciate something new every time.
I grew up in Yonkers listening to the Doors, Steppenwolf, Beatles and Rolling Stones, and always thought of country as kind of sappy and silly. There’s possibly a tiny bit of that on “Grievous Angel,” but mostly it has good songs, Parsons’ voice and the beautiful harmonies of Emmylou Harris. This album was like nothing I had ever heard.
My friend Leland had a room in his southern Indiana house that was like a shrine, Marantz and Advent stereo equipment and speakers and a perfectly balanced turntable. He kept a special lint brush in an aquarium full of rocks with some moisture and he would carefully wipe down each record before touching needle to vinyl. There were some good parties there, but sometimes it would just be a few of us listening to music, the perfect way to listen to “Grievous Angel.”
They call it mellow cello
Hi Griffin, I was immediately attracted to your subject, the impact of music, but was disappointed when I found you limited it to the impact of listening to an album.
I fell in love with cello music when I took up playing the instrument at age 51. Now at 70, I find playing a piece like the “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3” by Bach, with a group of fellow musicians, a physical as well as an auditory experience. Sitting in the midst of an orchestra playing the Brahms “Requiem” or Beethoven’s “9th Symphony” is an intense and exciting experience. Making music of any kind is more interesting and inspiring than listening to a recording. But if asked what my favorite all-time album was, I would have to say the most memorable one was “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly, circa 1968.