The Music Goes Round and Round

Music is my greatest pleasure. It's how I communicate with God, celebrate life, pull myself out of depression, and keep my focus. I grew up listening to my older brother's record collection, which gave me a fondness for all things related to Beatles, Monkees, Simon & Garfunkel, etc. I also listened to my mother's collection and grew up loving the sounds of Glenn Miller, Harry Belafonte, the Kingston Trio, Pete Seeger, and the Weavers. Her Peter, Paul and Mary album "Ten Years Together" had a scratch in the middle of "I Dig Rock and Roll Music", and I listened to it so much that 40 years later I still hear that skip in my mind on the rare occasion that a radio station bothers playing it any more. Not that I'm bitter.

Mostly, I love vocal music. Melody and lyrics make a bigger impression on me than elaborate instrumentation, cutting-edge styles that break new ground, etc. I have been singing in barbershop quartets and choruses since I was a teenager; I'll sing anything from 1860 to 1970 (after that, emphasis on vocals dropped and there's not much I enjoy about newer music).

You want details? OK, specifically in addition to the groups named above I love Buddy Holly, the Coasters, the Platters, the Dell-Vikings, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters... going back a bit further, your early recording stars like Billy Murray, Ada Jones, Eddie Cantor, and of course the inimitable Helen Kane. If you really pressed me to name someone less than 50 years out of date it would be Huey Lewis and Billy Joel, both of whom know what classic rock'n'roll should sound like.

I do like some instrumental styles - 1930s and 1940s swing and jazz when there's a melody to follow, Irish and German folk music, the old-school salsa you hear on half the radio stations these days, and bluegrass (especially when it includes that close harmony duet).

And hymns... I love the old hymns. A solid melody you can sing along with and make up harmony parts to go with it and lyrics you can sink your teeth into. I'm not saying I have a theological problem with the newer "choruses" that are so popular, but they just don't grab me musically. I can't learn the melody - it often goes all over the place in clever and unpredictable ways - and you can absolutely forget about putting any kind of harmony so you're stuck all singing in unison. You can keep your Christian rap and death metal, too... ugh.