Is Video Killing Music? What You Can Do About It.

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Friday, May 15, 2009
OK. I confess. I don't listen to music nearly as much as I used to. I find myself spending my spare time watching TV shows and movies, reading, and going on line. I used to spend a lot of that time just listening. In the '70s a party meant some beer, some pot and a really good stereo with great speakers. We lived for music. What happened?
  1. Video got powerful. I grew up in a midwestern town with two TV channels, both of which showed fairly awful programs. Listening to great music was much better than watching crappy TV. I remember vividly watching my first episode of Saturday Night Live, thinking "Wow, this is really good." Now I've got a Netflix subscription and 500+ channels of video -- many of which are actually watchable. So I watch. 
  2. Radio lost its grip. In my teens, my brothers and I would listen to far-away AM radio stations so we could hear good music. Hearing "Jumping Jack Flash" for the first time was a rush. The radio was how we stayed on top of what was happening. Now it seems like most radio stations are programmed by four guys in Texas. I'm grateful for WERS, my favorite Boston college station. Without it, I'd be listening exclusively to news, talk, Garrison and stupid quiz shows on NPR. 
  3. I got old. Who knew this would happen? But not a lot of new music does much for me.
So the questions are, "How can I bring music back into my life?" and "Do I want to?" Well, I do want to, and here's how I'm going to do it. I'm going to email five people I know, sending them five recommendations of music I think they should listen to. Then I'm going to ask them to do the same for me. I suggest you-all do the same thing -- and also enter your suggestions as responses to this blog. There's great music out there. Some new. Lots old. We just need each other's help finding it...and remembering it.

Tom's Five Suggestions
  1. John Prine and Iris Dement, In Spite of Ourselves 
  2. Johnny Cash, If You Could Read My Mind 
  3. Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream For Crow 
  4. Joni Mitchell, California 
  5. Janis Joplin, Summertime


Stacy said...

I am a child of the 80's, so here are some of my faves (it's pretty hard to limit it to 5!)

Journey Worlds Apart (Seperate Ways)

The Police: Don't Stand so Close to Me

Def Lepard: Photograph

Bon Jovi: You Give Love a Bad Name

When In Rome: The Promise

Bob Hobden said...

I can't suggest a particular song or artist but if you want music variety try music via the web. I have a couple of Roku Internet radios and my trusty Ipod for stored music and Internet radio and need no more. From the web you can find any programming you desire, any music genre and any in language. Couple the Internet radio device to the superb sounding Zvox and what else could you want? HDTV I have and that's coupled to the Zvox as well, but the majority of the time the Internet radio is playing.

lawrence said...

Was just watching Saturday Night Live recently with my teenage kids, despairing of how little time we take to seek and listen to decent music. And I try to drop into my kids' consciousness that there is a wealth of great stuff out there, from Miles Davis to Bob Dylan to Tom Waits to Arvo Part to Max Richter to J.S. Bach to Howlin' Wolf and many more, just to mention a few of my favorites.

Here is someone that I discovered in the 60's and treasure her sounds still:

Nina Simone: Sinnerman

Will try to pin down four more worthy offerings ...

And thanks, Tom, for the link to the wonderful Janis Joplin performance. Will note this on on my own blog and have my kids take a listen!

lawrence said...

Okay, five that come to mind today:

Shelby Lynne - Dusty Springfield Cover

Philip Glass - Mad Rush

Itzhak Perlman - (J.S. Bach, composer) Chaconne from Partita 02 in D

Bob Dylan - Maggie's Farm

Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir / Tallinn Chamber Orchestra - (Arvo Part, composer) Da Pacem Domine

I also wanted to add Rachmaninov Vespers and just about anything from Radiohead, but the rules are Five.

Ironic that we go to videos to reference these things. But this is what I do with my kids, hoping that they will become interested enough to dig deeper into my library of CDs and vinyl recordings, accumulated from the 50s through the present.

Reese Thompson said...

"True Confessions"

I've become a certified iTunes addict.

Heck, I probably spent as much money on music in the past six months as my wife spent on shoes and handbags. (Okay, that was a world-class overstatement. After all, my impulse purchases are a buck. Hers? Uhh, slightly higher.)

But, as my tuneage has greatly expanded and diversified, we have two kick-ass Sharp AQUOS flat screen TVs (42 inches each), the sound quality of which is absolutely abysmal.

Since we're in an apartment right now, we certainly have no need for paint-peeling wattage from an audio add-on.

That being said, can anyone who has one of these systems advise me as to whether they think the ZVOX 325 will be a match made in heaven for my two skinny screens.

The picture is stunning, and while I'd love the sound to be its equal, after the 3-week vacation to Italy we're leaving for in a few days ... I'm not exactly sure how much cash I'll still have in my pocket.

Finally, a few of my musical finds:

• Big Time (Acoustic) Electrokingdom w/Peter Gabriel

• From the album, I Think We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat by The BPA: So It Goes, Island, Superman, Should I Stay or Should I Blow, He's Frank, Electric Love, Seattle (Crazy P Remix)

• X-Press 2 w/David Byrne: Lazy

• YES: Roundabout (Acoustic)

• The Pinker Tones: S.E.X.Y. R.O.B.O.T

• Nouvelle Vague: Love Will Tear Us Apart

• Brian Wilson: Bluegrass cover of BNL classic, part of "Pickin' On" series.

• Jean Luc-Ponty: Open Mind (This song does EXACTLY that.)

Covers by Ian Brown, former lead singer for The Stone Roses: Thriller & Billie Jean

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