I have one more Nashville-related story, and then I swear I’ll stop. (You didn’t think I could squeeze 5 blog posts out of one 4-day trip, didja? Consider yourself lucky that I ran out of disposable daylight hours before I could visit the Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.) To be honest, though, the events described in the paragraphs below could have taken place anywhere, not just in Music City, and that’s more or less the point I’ll be making.
You often hear people say that there will never be another Beatles, or another Rolling Stones. Of course these claims are correct in the literal sense, but I think they’re also accurate in a more general way; it’s hard to imagine a group having that sort of massive cultural impact now that the musical landscape is so fragmented. I often wonder if any of bands that I adore now will be considered by my hypothetical grandchildren as part of some unified musical canon, or if the diffusion of listeners’ attention across a multitude of sub-genres means that there will be several different canons, each with its own revered membership. It’s a depressing thought in some ways, one that makes this Gen-Y’er feel like his favorite bands aren’t quite as important as they ought to be (or that they might have been 50 or 60 years ago).
But guess what? My glass-half-empty, future-phobic ranting ends there, because I believe, with every fiber in my being, that songs are as important as they ever have been, and that their import isn’t going anywhere. Even if my kids’ kids’ kids’ kids don’t know who the hell Journey was, I bet they’ll still be fist-pumping like idiots to “Don’t Stop Believing” at some dive-y lunar bar in 2162. That’s because truly great, canon-worthy songs transcend genres, nations, races, ages, even the people who wrote and performed them — they become a part of us. And I’m not speaking figuratively; they literally become part of our physiology by reorganizing the neural pathways in our brains to make singing along with the lyrics easier (this would be creepy if it wasn’t so awesome). So why do I bring this up now? Because events that took place in Nashville lead to me believe Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” is one of these transcendent songs.
A couple months back, I wrote about an epiphany I had that opened the door to a world that had previously seemed hopelessly walled-off. The epiphany went a little sumpin’ like this:
“…having a guy dressed as Beethoven in the balcony can’t exactly change the fact that the real guy died in 1827, but it does call attention to the fact that 4 people with instruments and some sheet music can bring a part of the German composer’s magnificently wired brain back to life, if only for the length of time it takes to play one of his works…”
Though I was talking about how Brooklyn Rider makes classical music accessible, the part about music providing an external, accessible image of a person’s consciousness is fascinating to me. And while every lyricist engages in this process by putting their thoughts to words, hearing Fiona Apple’s new song “Every Single Night” helped me realize that she’s in a class of her own in this respect.
You Hear That had its very first birthday over the weekend, and I want to offer a huge THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who have been reading, contributing, and commenting during the last 12 months. Whether you just started reading or have been following along for a while now, it means the world to me that you’re out there, somewhere, smiling at the same stuff that makes me smile. I’m super duper excited to jump into a second year of posting awesome music, tenuous analogies and stupid cat pictures, but before I do, I want to offer you a little something more than just words of thanks …
MERCH!!! As a gift to you wonderful people who make my blog world go round, I’m giving away a limited number* of YHT shirts! All you have to do is send an email to email@example.com with your name, address and preferred size and the merch fairy will drop a shirt on your doorstep. It’s that easy. Delivery time may vary, as the You Hear That Sweat Shop isn’t 100% operational yet (underage textile workers take FOREVER to train UGH), but rest assured, if your request comes in before supplies run out, your goodies are on the way. Now, I originally thought about leaving you with “Birthday” by the Beatles, but I’m pretty sure a Hunger Games hovercraft would appear out of the sky and extraordinarily render me to a remote prison in some ex-Soviet bloc country if I posted a Beatles song, so I’m leaving you with the next best thing — a reggae remix of “Birthday Sex” by Jeremih. Holla!
Jeremih — “Birthday Sex” (Reggae remix)
*How limited is this number? I haven’t quite figured that part out. Math isn’t my thing. If your request doesn’t make it in time, I’ll be sure to let you know so you’re not repeatedly coming home to dashed hopes.
Important Vinyl Update … The Artist: The Beatles. The Album: The Beatles (The White Album). The Store: Plan 9. The Price: $9.
My big sister Cary is the coolest person I know. From an early age, she had awesome taste in music, and was always willing to help me see the light. But of all the recommendations she’s given me over the years, I’m thankful for one above all others: the Beatles. Her Beatles obsession began in middle school, and while mine wouldn’t kick in until much later, she passed on an appreciation for their songs as sacred texts, along with a few of the Beatles posters that once covered her bedroom wall-to-wall. My vinyl collection also didn’t start until long after hers, and it was actually a story I heard on All Songs Considered while driving home for Thanksgiving that made me so eager to seek out my own copy of the White Album.