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Today’s ‘greatest hits?’

Posted: July 2, 2013 11:39 a.m.
Updated: July 3, 2013 5:00 a.m.

I’ve always been one of those people who is “really into music.” I don’t mean that I can play an instrument (although I did take years of piano) or carry a tune. I mean that I just really, really love music. Second to writing and reading, it’s probably one of my favorite, I guess you could say, hobbies. I love songs with lyrics, I love songs without lyrics, I pretty much just love any song that evokes feelings. Any sort of feeling. That’s what’s so amazing to me about it. Music has the ability to completely carry a situation. One of my favorite aspects of film is the use of music within it. There are certain movie scenes that I know would never feel anywhere near as powerful if they didn’t have that perfect song playing right along with them. Music is amazing in the fact that it can make or break a moment. There are times when I’m having a terrible day and get into my car and upon turning on the radio hear the perfect song playing through my speakers. My mood is immediately greatly improved.

But, people, we’ve come to a major problem in today’s music. When I turn on the radio to the station that’s playing “today’s hits,” some of that so-called music is appalling. Sure, I enjoy these hits, but it also makes me feel a little worried. These are the lyrics we’re creating today? What happened to lyrics like “all you need is love?” So simple but so powerful. Instead we now have lyrics such as “throw some glitter make it rain” sung by someone whose vocals are so computerized it doesn’t even sound like an actual human is “singing” them. What does “throw some glitter make it rain” even mean? Sure, there are amazing artists out there but you don’t hear them played on stations that host “today’s greatest hits.” To me, those aren’t the greatest hits of today. The greatest hits of today -- that actually have soul and substance -- aren’t found on the mainstream stations. The only way you can have access to them is if you put them on your iPod or burn them to a CD or happen to find some independent radio station you can pick up in your car. Believe me, those stations are out there. Though they might be a little fuzzy or static at times, they’re still there. The CD player has been broken in my car for almost two years now, so I’ve had to learn to drastically adapt to being able to find a way to listen to music that actually makes sense.

I also believe that investing in live music is one of the best investments you can make. Upon discovering an artist that I really love, one of my first steps, besides listening to every single song they’ve ever produced, is looking up live versions of their music. So many of my favorite artists work is their live versions. For example, John Mayer is one of my favorites because of how amazing he is live. Listen to and watch one of his live performances, and you know that he is invested in what he’s doing. His music has heart and so, so much soul. In fact, most of the music I have of his is live versions rather than studio recorded.

I find myself spending most of my paycheck on concert tickets. The summer is a plethora of choices for musical acts within driving distance, which I love. Although I could be spending that money on other things or doing what is probably the most sensible choice … saving it … I choose to spend it on seeing my favorite music live. There’s nothing like a concert. It’s amazing to me how one person, or a group of people, can bring those of all different backgrounds, races, social status, etc., etc., etc. together simply because of a combination of lyrics and instruments.

One of my biggest regrets is that I will more than likely never have the opportunity to see The Rolling Stones or Fleetwood Mac live although they have both been on tour this summer. But, I’m trying to make up for that by attending as many live shows of other artists who are important to me while I have the opportunity to. Music is one of the true forms of magic that still exists today. If only we could somehow reach a time when the songs considered hits of today have lyrics with more variety than a few drawn out “baby baby baby ohhh.” Or a time when I have a working CD player and no one will have to listen to my complaints.

Either way, I think a lot of people will be happier with the outcome.

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