It’s all about reach and connect ...(December 18, 2015)
Music reaches people. Music connects. When it doesn’t, I ask myself, what’s its purpose? Expression? Communication? Letting off steam? Whatever the reason, there’s an open channel from artist to wherever ... the reach and connection is down to the music.
Of course, not all music connects with everyone. In the same way that not everyone connects with music ... strange though that might be. That’s not only strange it’s downright bewildering... over the years I’ve heard comments such as: “I don’t listen to music.” How can you not? For me that statement falls into the same category as “I don’t read books.” And it’s equally bemusing.
Anyway, personal prejudice and people with Philistine tendencies aside, for the majority of the human race music reaches and connects. That connection is vital because music and song remain the great communicators, across many hundreds of years, music and song has served to comment on and record a multitude of purposes from personal to political narrative from social commentary to historical record from struggle to survival and everything else in between. This medium has probably more than any other served as a private and public record of human experience. That is unless of course it falls into the slush that oozes through the ceilings of elevators or the grating insistence of piped music in shops and malls, which we dismiss entirely.
Prime among the spreading tentacles of music and song is folk music. It has long-served as humanity’s prime mover for narrative and communication. The medium has brought the evils of oppression and prejudice to a wider audience. It has eased troubled minds and soothed demented souls. It has raised the bar on protest and opposition. It has made people sit up and take notice, uncovered issues and focused attention. Along the way it has also found time to protect and restore heritage and tradition to nations in all parts of the world. All this happens because music reaches out and connects.
The ability of folk music to reach and connect lies in its accessibility. Anyone can express a thought or an idea without recourse to anything more than the human voice, then you can add a stringed, blown or skinned instrument. Beyond the efforts of one-person, their voice and chosen instrument, the scope is unrestricted ... get together with friends, form a band, where you stop is down to you, as is what you write about. Whether songwriters write to express their own feelings, get something off their chest or simply ‘because they have to write’ matters not one jot. What matters is the music reaches out and connects with people.
By the way, there’s no high moral principles to this observation, if creating the music happens to make the artist some money (only infrequently enough to live on) then that’s all well and good. If the artist also gains fame along the way (possibly assisting the need to make money) that’s good too. The basic needs of life have to be sustained so there’s an awareness of that requirement, however if along the artist’s journey the music reaches out and connects everybody wins.
At this point I will stress that the musical garbage that marketing-driven record labels churn out or the previously mentioned piped music that permeates public life are both excluded from this observation, for their aim, if there is any, is certainly not to reach out and connect. Additionally, spending any time debating the whys and wherefores of such crap only serves to turn one’s brain to mush.
So when I encounter those magical moments when music reaches me or connects with my being, I cherish them and I hope you do too. And to all those god and fine souls that spend their time creating such wonders, thank you.