10 September 2008

Mr. Zappa Sings of Cocaine Decisions, I Sing of Motrin Confusion

I went to the hospital Monday night. I was having severe heart pains and trouble breathing. I hate doctors and hospitals. I am practically a Christian Scientist when it comes to medical care. While I was there I couldn't help noticing how much music is in an emergency room. This is not to say I was sitting there thinking of music the entire time - I was practically hyperventilating and suffering from a panic attack - but some curious thoughts and coincidences crept in my mind without me consciously realizing it.

--As I was getting a chest x-ray for the first time in my life the song "I Melt With You" was blasting from the doctor's station. Coincidence or morbid humor?

--I managed to probably be the first person in the history of Raritan Bay Hospital to get an x-ray done with a John Mayer Trio shirt on. Later on, a doctor told me that occassionally if you're wearing a shirt with lettering on it, it may show up in your scan. Was John Mayer's face in my x-ray?

--While I was waiting in the ER (the first time - I actually made two emergency trips that evening), they put the television on for me and a curious program entitled, "High School Musical: In the Picture" was on. I was too weak to change the channel so I watched. Former 98 Degrees singer and Jessica Simpson husband Nick Lachey hosts it and as an added bonus, reads minds. The entire time I was watching this very upsetting, emotionally crippling show I couldn't stop thinking that Nick looked miserable. He should be singing, I thought for the first time in my life. Suddenly I was thinking about how people do things because they have to and how life is a waste when out of nowhere Mr. Lachey decides to do a ten minute song himself, complete with fireworks, balloons, and what seemed like a dragon to far stage right. In my Motrin-induced stupor, I was certain he did this just for me.

--If you're wondering for some messed up reason what they play in the hospital at 1am, it's elevator music. Instrumental versions of Bon Jovi and Toni Braxton songs. "Living on a Prayer" with a saxaphone pretending to be Richie Sambora. They had given me drugs at this point but truthfully I think the music was enough to make my heart slow down.

--I wore my Johnny Cash shirt later on, in my second visit, and no one made any mention. I guess music isn't the first thing on Dr. Ali's mind when she's checking that I don't have a pulmonary embolism.

So, all in all, it was a more musical evening than I expected. It also proves the point that music is probably the most universal, diverse sound ever created. I could be in a convenience store, a gas station, or a hospital and hear the same songs. Interesting, right? Now excuse me while I take some more medication and ease back to the groovy sounds of "I Wanna Be Sedated" by The Ramones. No coincidences here.

05 September 2008

We're All Fever Dogs with Bloody Noses of Pride

I work at a concert venue. At this concert venue we have a staff of our very own EMTs. I never actually thought about it until I just saw a young man pass by my little window with a bloody nose and a case of the whimpers. It's interesting. Is music powerful enough to inflict bodily harm on someone?

The answer is obviously yes and even more than that it must be said that music is probably powerful enough to do anything. I'd be first in line if there were ever a book entitled, "World Leaders: Their Personal Playlists". I would be obsessed with it and download every single song Vladimir Putin was currently listening to. If you are what you eat, you must be what you listen to as well. How many people dress to impress... their fellow music followers? Please don't even try to tell me you see a young man with a beard, thick black glasses, and skinny jeans and think he loves Rob Zombie. And don't tell me you see a girl with dyed purple hair, cat-eye contacts, and baggy jeans and assume she's clearly heading to the Belle and Sebastian show. For some reason it typically does not work that way. I'm a firm believer that the type of music you follow, in most cases, automatically enters you into a cult-like community. Suddenly your entire way of thinking - from how you dress to maybe even what you eat (Vegetarianism, etc.) - is dependent upon what the "guru" is doing, or in this case, the musician.

It's easily understandable too - which is a little scary. There's so much music that feels so personal. You take it with you to work, school, your car, your bedroom and don't think too much about the idea that millions of other people might be listening to it as well. For those important moments it is yours. You feel as though you can relate to the artist and their words move you in a way that few other things do in everyday life. Their music is an escape. Then you might see a photograph of the musician, let's say. Then you go to their concerts. You start to see a certain demographic of the population flocking to these events and a certain style their "followers" seem to maintain. "Well!" you unconsciously say to yourself, "I don't want to be left out!!"

So I'm exaggerating. Maybe.

Although it's the easiest thing in the world to understand, it's difficult to explain. The power of music is like a disease: it spreads to every facet of one's life. And that's just music in general. GOOD music is so delicious it's sometimes too much to handle and I have the perfect example: Lately I've had to wake up much earlier than I'm used to. I'm listening to music by 7am on some days and my choice of songs is far different than say, 7pm. At first I thought this was due to my sleepiness - you don't want to hear Alien Ant Farm blasting in your ear first thing in the morning - but I've realized there are many more subdued songs I don't feel comfortable with in the morning either. I used to sleep with VH1 Nocturnal State on (the only time they play music videos) and wake up to a song like "Burn" by Usher or "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys and cry my eyes out. Emotional songs, whether you like them or not, hit you hard when you're off guard. I would never listen to that Usher song on my own but it's certainly comparable to the fact that I can't get myself to listen to "Anything, Anything" by Dramarama in the early hours of the day either. It makes me too sad. I have no good reason for this other than music is absorbing. Music is a time machine, a therapist, a shoulder to lean on, an amusement park - anything you want it to be.

But getting back to the kid with the bloody nose. I'm pretty sure if he were at the movies he wouldn't have gotten injured. I'd even venture that if he were at a concert he didn't like very much he wouldn't have gotten worked up enough to get hurt. His injury is a boy scout patch of music honor. His soul was stolen by the music gods for a little while and in that time he managed to get his nose clunked up by some hooligan that was probably equally entranced by the experience. Now although he looked like a fool being carried away by the men in uniforms, he should stand proud and be respected for his unfettered love of the music.

I mean what were Billy Crudup's "dying" words in Almost Famous? After all that "I'm on DRUGS!!!" business?

"I love Music."

03 September 2008

The Felice Brothers

I haven't been in the best mood lately but the one thing that can keep me from knotting up a bedsheet and trying to head off to rock 'n roll heaven, ala Britney Spears, is The Felice Brothers, a four man band that absolutely sounds better than anything I've heard all year. There are so many young bands copying The Clash, Michael Jackson, The Kinks, etc so it's refreshing to hear one inspired by a more, well, inspired choice: The Band. And I'll be honest, it doesn't hurt that they're the first alt-country band I've heard of hailing from within a 100 mile radius of my hometown. Feeling like I live near some soul soothes my own a little bit. I cannot stop listening to "Frankie's Gun", a recent single off the band's self titled album, with its Southern style beats and cheeky lyrics including one about my place of residence:

"I saw a man hit my mom one time, really
I hurt him so damn bad I had to hide in Jersey."

Yes, Felice Brothers, you have described the only time one should come to Jersey - if one is hiding out.

Bottom line: While you're driving far, far away from the Garden State, blast The Felice Brothers on your stereo.