“I think music is the greatest art form that exists, and I think people listen to music for different reasons, and it serves different purposes. Some of it is background music, and some of it is a thing that might affect a person’s day, if not their life, or change an attitude. The best songs are the ones that make you feel something.”
Thanks Eddie Vedder, and thanks for bringing your art into the world.
The soundtrack to art class this week includes Bob Dylan or rather, Nobel prize winning poet Bob Dylan’s “Oh Mercy”, Fishbone’s “Truth and Soul”, NRBQ’s “Wild Weekend”, Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous”, and Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet”. Eclectic taste leaning toward rebellion is how I roll.
I go from Lou Reed to the 10,000 Maniacs to Bob Marley to Social Distortion to the Grateful Dead without any argument from students. Music is just another medium to me and if I can inspire students to put down their phones and pick up an instrument or start writing songs then I’m doing my job.
John Sealy started his career in my art room, too reserved to perform in front of others; I gave him extra credit to rap what he was writing down. It was awesome and he’s now in LA, known as Notrotious, having a go of his love of music.
“Sure you can listen to Fetty Wap preaching about stacks, booze and misogyny (he calls his own music, “ignorant R&B”) but isn’t there something with a better message and a little more depth available?” I ask the students who choose to keep their ear buds in.
It’s true, I have become my parents. Their difficulty with understanding the message of Joe Strummer was based on the same curmudgeonly philosophy I am placing on Fetty. New sound, new time, different package, same story. Or is it?
Music is important, students learn about sound, waves, the ear and the brain by researching how a small shiny round disc creates something that makes their toes tap and their hips swivel. Students discover if they are auditory learners as part of our Neurobiology unit, helpful information for the individual and the teacher.
Music can also transport us to some pretty amazing places. If I ever hear the band Stone Groove I’m gone to a snowy cabin in the mountains with my men friends during our yearly ski weekend. Frank Sinatra gets me dancing with my wife. The Grateful Dead puts me in the back of Mark’s 1965 bug driving down and coming down from a Dead show in the Sierras. Lou Reed reminds me of my sister. The Violent Femmes are the soundtrack to college.
To fully appreciate my musical tastes, or lack there of, try listening to The Gang Of Four’s “Entertainment!” at a dangerously high decibel level. That is my jam, total ADHD cord progression, melodic only to those who can embrace the erratic, artistic message. Raw, angry, powerful and stands up over time. It has become my favorite laundry folding music unless my wife is around in which case I switch back to Frank Sinatra.
Music can also help get us through troubled times. Rodriguez and Jane’s Addiction have been especially soothing in the last month and Amy Winehouse is my go to whenever I feel like dropping off the face of the earth. Music has power.
Just listen to the word of Bob:
“Broken hands on broken ploughs,
Broken treaties, broken vows,
Broken pipes, broken tools,
People bending broken rules
Hound dog howling, bull frog croaking,
Everything is broken.”