sex, drugs, and …popular music

Now that I know JK is reading my blog, I feel the pressure to write something awesome all the time! So I hope this suffices, if not, you have permission to chase me down and beat the $%#%% out of me. :) !!

I’m teaching about the 70’s in jazz history class today, and I found this amazing Miles Davis interview from youtube. For those of you who know Miles’ 70’s stuff, it’s pretty trippy, think Grateful Dead crossed with funk with less harmony and no singing. I played a little of the music last week for the class and ask them why they thought anyone would make music like that. Their answer was, lots of drugs, which made me laugh. I then asked why anyone would listen to that music when it came out. Their answer was, lots of drugs. All that aside, is it really the drugs? When I hear that music, I think they’re playing to make a mood, not a tune. Some songs sound like tension, some songs sound quiet and sad, and some sound like a New York street at rush hour. So the real question I have in my mind is, would that music have been as cool if they all hadn’t been doing drugs? If they had been clean, would it have been better, worse, or the same? When we hear Billie Holiday sing, do we hear genius, or a woman tripping? Pretty crazy…
I personally think that music itself is a transcendent experience, and I’m very lucky that I get to work and make money in a career that I love so much. Maybe that’s why drugs are so prevalent in music: musicians are seeking that euphoric feeling before they walk onto the stage. I think whenever you see someone play on a stage, whether you like the music or not, and whether you think it’s good or not, you’re still witnessing someone reaching for transcendence. I hope someday we can all find something that makes us feel that kind of passion and transcendence! Let me know your thoughts about weird 70’s music!