I'm not Jazz; I'm not Blues--I Am Rock and Roll

Nope. No music videos. Nope. No praise of musical style or of musicians. This essay is about musical preference and growth and maturation. Thinking about musical preferences in my case led me to consider how these preferences arose. I cannot talk in particulars because each of us has own preferences in music--and in friends, food, politics, and most everything else. If this essay turns to first person, as it frequently will, does not mean to imply about any one else's preferences. My path to music may not be typical of anyone else. But it one sense, musical maturation is a developmental process present in every one alive. No matter how we get there will be different but I doubt many people goes through stages in what type of music, what musicians or bands (or orchestras or plain chant, etc.) A person will always arrive at a choice.

In some cases the choice be so elementary exclusionary that people don't like music at all even though they can hear. I pity such people. Music is life. Imagine a day without it--whether you make it or merely listen. How empty then would life be. Slaving for a job, whether office cubicle, forest, or raising children; whatever a person does, music makes life bearable.

When does music appreciation begin? In mother's womb where the reassuring of maternal heartbeat is association of healthy birth. In those unfortunate cases, such as a still-born, the music stops too soon.

In the longer term, people generally undergo simultaneous growth and maturation. Growth can be defined as physical size. Growth can also be attained socially and on individual levels. In fact growth occurs, to greater or lesser degree, in all three aspects: physical, social, individual.

Maturation is the hopefully increasing ability gained through experience by which we use the fullest extent of all our faculties to the best of our efforts and circumstances. Circumstances means environment: what was your family life like when you were getting older? Getting older is not necessarily growing.

Some people are possessed of a rigid acceptance of new experiences. Some people are unable to synthesize experience into beneficial wholes--they are the ones whose life path has been less than totally benign. I place no value, either positive or negative as to the ultimate termination of their growth and maturation.

But a side-note is in order here. Psychopaths have arrested development, lacking empathy for anyone but themselves. The reasons for such cessation in social development are multifold most likely. And personal development can be arrested prematurely in physical growth and in maturation as defined above. Worse, all three areas may be stunted, twisted or even regress.

But my feeling about human nature, because I am a humanist, is that, absent external pressure, most people are well-intentioned and empathetic. Were this not, so life, as difficult as often it is, would be a daily hell for everyone. A few psychopaths can life like miserable far beyond their mere numbers in the population.

But, after this foray, rather obliquely, into politics, let's get back to music. Here I have to use first person to illustrate process rather than destination. My process and my destination will most likely not be yours. That's okay.

Soon after birth, the music of mother's womb ceases, even as mother's love typically increases for her off-spring. New sounds coming all jumbled, without meaning occurs immediately after birth. Most people, having little maturation that will rarely appreciate those noises as music. But with growth and maturation, some order emerges from cacophony. Only when that aural order is recognized, not necessarily cognitively, can sounds become music. In fact cognition in only the barest sense is necessary for appreciation of music. Music is emotion, aided and abetted by cognition to greater significance. If the music doesn't suit you nor do the words/sentiments, then obviously, that won't be your preference. But preferences change. Everything in life changes...for most persons.

And so I went from listening to Country and Western before electrification and commerciality. The old timey stuff. My choice of this style was somewhat involuntary in that local broadcasts featured little music otherwise. Later I was exposed to jazz, lots of it. I never played an instrument. Great jazz at times too. I even went to a few jazz concerts but I wasn't captivated by it, even though I realized the virtuosity of performance. Why was I not captivated? Don't know. Is such a thing even knowable? Why did my musical preference move me on?

My next style was pop of the type in the 40's and early 50's. I liked the music because of clear melodies and understandable lyrics. Many fine songs that perhaps millions still love. Human emotions across the entire range expressed clearly. Yet this was not my destination musically, just as my politics at that age were not as they are now.

Side note: I loved "classical" music (plain song, madrigals, toccatas and fugues, themes and variations, string quartets and symphonies) the whole genre and its lineage. Of course, my favorite was and has always been Beethoven. So why do I not say "I am Classical"? The emotion is certainly there, possibly greater in density than any other art form I know including raga, Tibetan chant, Chinese classical music and classic Japanese with their differing chromatics. All wonderful. Yet no connection. Why not? There's that lack of connection again, one which cannot be explained. I defy anyone to predict another's musical preferences with knowing that person quite well.

So, then along came rock rand roll, at once primal and cerebral, in varying proportions depending upon the artist and the artist's own maturation as well as mine.

Play it loud. That's Rock and Roll. You don't have to like it; fine with me. But I sure hope you love some kind of music.

This essay has been written while listening to Eric Clapton. It helps me express these thoughts but is not necessary to that.

For those of you rock and rollers, check out Blisland by Katrina Leskanich. Masterpiece--a term I do NOT use lightly.

So, readers, listen too. Whatever you like. Why your choice know one can know.

Play it loud!

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detroitmechworks's picture

Unfortunately they seem to be the vast majority of what is promoted by the MSM.

I grew up with Episcopal Church Music, lots of sixties rock, and my fathers obsession with the beach Boys. I've been criticized my entire life for my choices in music, mostly by my family growing up, but moving on with my life, I just enjoy good music.

I take solace in their hatred of what I love, because let's be honest, the MSM has never been at the forefront of any musical trend. Most of the time, they act like typical politicians. Wait for a parade, then leap in front of it, claiming you were there all the time.

So, I'm currently into Folk Metal and New Classical compositions, because it's just fun music that does not take itself seriously. It's a rarity in these days when it seems every politician demands that artists censor themselves to fit the agenda de jour.

8 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

Bollox Ref's picture

One piece of music never fails to bring tears to my eyes, and I've heard it many times: the soprano coming in towards the end of the chorus "Man born of desire", from Sir Hubert Parry's Invocation to Music... just sends me over the edge.

I also enjoy very hot peppers. Tears can be involved also.

5 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

Deja's picture

My dad said rock n roll died the day of the British invasion. He used to hang out at the roller rink where Buddy Holly played, and from where Holly would broadcast live on a Lubbock radio station before he hit it big. Waylon Jennings was wracked with guilt for not dying the night Holly did. Incidentally, my childhood best friend's dad threw rocks at a young Jennings in Littlefield, TX when the two men were kids.

It depends on my mood as to the genre I'll listen to. My Bluetooth headphones and a varied play list on my phone give me something to jam to while doing menial tasks around the house.

4 users have voted.

"The gatekeepers must change."

thanatokephaloides's picture

As a c99er whose userID is pidgin Greek for "Dead head" because older Grateful Dead fans than me have the "Dead Head" userID sewn up long before I ever come on scene, it may surprise some of` my readers that I actually have a very wide-spectrum, eclectic musical taste. Blues, old-time bluegrass, old-time country, reggae/ska, all the way to heavy metal and, of course, baroque and "classical" classical music.

My point here relates to one of my favorite bands, Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO), the current incarnation of the heavy-metal band Savatage. One published discussion that the TSO principals had stated that Mozart was history's first rock star, while Ludwig von Beethoven was history's first heavy-metal star. This article has more info on the Beethoven connection.

Attempting to locate that interview for enbedding here has proven painful to me. I was unaware that TSO's founder, Paul O'Neill, had passed away on 19 April 2017. It does appear that TSO will carry on after him. I wish them every success at that; the Grateful Dead didn't manage that at all.

Mr. O'Neill was little more than a year my senior. Nihil umquam in oblivione est! Sad

5 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

i've always told my kids that beethoven was the first rock and roller.

i've heard a lot of great mozart, but none of it rocked.

beethoven? oh, yeah -- he definitely rocked.

3 users have voted.


Alligator Ed's picture

@UntimelyRippd @UntimelyRippd First name Lewis (French for Ludwig is Louis) and middle initial B.

2 users have voted.

But when I sat down to my baby grand piano (a Chickering) it was always classical music. When I took those ballet lessons, it was classical music.
My parents loved "In The Mood", "Begin the Beguine" and all the music from the 40's, and so do I. WWII era stuff. Must have been their rebellion music. I hear tales when they got up and danced, everybody else sat down and watched.
I actually saw that happen a few times. They were so elegant and good looking.
In travelling, I am completely hooked on steel drum bands, and African music, with the earthy drums and chants. The songs of places in central Europe will stay with me forever. Estonia could not be other than "Russian", except in beautiful song.
Opera. I am addicted to it. But virtually nothing after 1910, and very little of the Baroque. I have had the pleasure to play for some extraordinary trained opera voices in my life.
Give me some Romantic classical music, and give me George Harrison love, and being Texan, I think Willie Nelson, whom I have met, would be ok with that.

5 users have voted.

Although there are songs I like from a lot of genres nothing moves me like Rock n Roll. Growing up in Chicago in the 60s and 70s there was always a good concert to go to and speaking of Eric Clapton I remember seeing him when he did the Slow Hand tour 78 or 79, one of the best concerts I have ever seen. My wife and I still try to go to a couple concerts a year. We went to see Paul McCartney a couple weeks ago he played almost 3 hrs straight and was amazing.

4 users have voted.
Alligator Ed's picture

@pro left Andy Fairweather Low, and others. Absolutely terrific.

Were you ever at any of the Crossroads Guitar Festivals? There rock and blues intertwine soul-to-soul.

The Blues had a Baby and they named it Rock and Roll.

2 users have voted.

i don't know, but i do know that it must exist somewhere on Derek and the Dominoes' extraordinary musical documenting of the male soul in the grip of desperate love for an unattainable woman: The entire album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. I've occasionally considered that rock and roll's raison d'etre was simply so that Eric et al could put together that album ... Layla, Bell Bottom Blues, Why Does Love Got to be So Sad ... track after track of clapton, reeling from the booze and drugs, putting it all out there.


5 users have voted.


Alligator Ed's picture

Katrina Leskanich, the lead singer of Katrina and the Waves, now on solo career:

4 users have voted.