What I'm Doing

Musical Re-Education

My earliest memory of music was my older brother teaching me Frère Jacques. He was in high school or middle school and because he had the voice of angel (and also a great love of Dolly Parton, Bette Middler and Amy Grant, which, should have clued us all in to a much later reveal), he had joined the choir.

As he moved through lovely renditions of “Do Re Mi,” he would try to teach me what it meant to sing on-key. To sing from the diaphragm. To sing not squawk, for god’s sake. But nothing doing—I did not possess a musical talent. I made dogs whimper at my sounds.

I took this knowledge in stride, and beyond soothing my fractious teenage years with boybands and mix tapes, I never really looked back at music. I didn’t join the band. I didn’t pick up any musical instruments. I don’t even watch The Grammy’s.

Lately though, I’ve developed an appreciation for stories about music and how it is made. Not Vh1 Behind the Music, exactly, but just how does music get created, promoted, popularized.

And instead of relying on the perfect algorithms of Spotify, Pandora and the radio, I’m asking people to share their music with me.

It’s all making for a pretty re-education in music.

And my brother? Well, let’s just say he found a way to use his talents too, and I couldn’t be more proud.

More of the Same

I am obsessed with two kinds of music: covers and acoustic covers. Thanks Facebook ticker for sending me to the BBC Radio 1 YouTube channel where I can watch pop stars cover the hits of other pop stars all day long.

Check out Song Exploder, a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.  Start with Episode 1 – The Postal Service and remind yourself why The District Sleeps Alone Tonight is a hell of a record.

My colleague introduced me to Brown Bird and its been heavy on my rotation. Listen to this indelible set and then cry because it’s all over forever.

The guys at Pitch teach you all about The Clearmountain Pause and explain why a few seconds of silence can be an underestimated act of musical production.

And of course I’ve got you covered with this most excellent 70’s playlist.

Be easy, friends.