Music Appreciation

As I teenager, I dreamed of being a musician. I played guitar for hours everyday, learned how to play bass, some drums and some piano.
I would record my music on an old 4-track recorder and entertain myself with my music.
So when I decided on what I was going to do with my future, I obviously chose journalism.
I could write music, but I could never put the words to the chords. I can write fairly decently, but can never put the proper music behind the lyrics.
When deciding my future, I realized I was a better lyricist than musician. Plus, journalism is an easier venue to be published.
But music remains a huge part of my life. I listen to it everyday. I still play guitar every now and then.
Having worked in record stores for 10 years, I have a pretty decent knowledge of music in our culture.
While I was in college, I was the entertainment editor of the school paper.
This gave me access to free concerts every weekend and the opportunity to meet some fairly well known artists.
I remember interviewing Minnesota’s own Mark Mallman in a basement of a bar as he was fixing a broken set of drums.
I interviewed Hank Williams III’s bass player in a RV in the St. Cloud City Hall parking lot for nearly an hour.
I met a Canadian hip hop producer on MySpace my freshman year and got free CDs to review for many years.
I would often find my reviews (if they were positive) on bands websites. I still get a kick out of a negative review I wrote for Lady Gaga that got panned on a website called “oh no they didn’t.” These were some great times.
Yet, my musical playing is not that good.
If I wanted to start a trashy sounding punk band, I would be gold.
But if I were to start a proper band, I would probably fire myself after 10 minutes.
Sure, knowing three chords worked for some bands.
But the G,C and D chords have been played to death and it’s pretty hard to come up with something new with them.
Yet, despite my limited ability to play, I have a weird ability to play songs I hear by ear.
For some reason, if I hear a guitar riff, I can replicate it with no problem.
A chord progression? I’ll just play it without thinking. But show me a piece of paper with music notes or anything on it to tell me how to play something? Forget it. It will come out like I was smashing a tin horn with an ax.
Also, my ability to pick up on songs by ear also gave me the smug ability to nitpick music, which helped with my work at record stores and music journalism.
I can tell if a band is ripping off another song, know what album and band performed that song, and sometimes know the year said song was released.
Trust me, if you are at a record store and find this annoying in an employee, try living with this ability.
Only a few people can relate to my pain when asked what music I am into.
When I say everything, I mean there is a band in about every genre I enjoy. Country? Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Sr. Trance? DJ Shadow and Jel. Rap? NWA and the Beastie Boys. Metal? Black Sabbath and Mastodon.
The only genres I cannot find something I enjoy are the fringe ones.
Someone once asked me if I enjoy Gospel Trance. To this day, I still have no idea what that is, and am convinced that person was messing with me.
So, music is an important element in my life. But it could never be 100 percent my life. Just 99 percent.

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