Thursday, April 7, 2011
A browse through my iTunes library would surely reveal what truly is an eclectic music taste. Although classic and contemporary progressive rock, Motown, and big band and swing may comprise a sizeable portion of my collection, the range of artists at my disposal involves the likes of Oingo Boingo, Chaka Kahn, Andrea Bocelli, Burl Ives, and John Denver… to name just a few… essentially what I’m saying is that there aren’t many genres of music that I find truly distasteful. If I were forced to choose types of music that just don’t do it for me, I would have to narrow the list down to most rap and country music. If forced to narrow it down even further, it would be contemporary rap music and female country singers. Of the latter, I have quite the disdain. I don’t know why, but I almost cannot stand the music produced by Country’s women. Nothing against them or their talents, but there is just something about the music they produce that doesn’t act favorably on my ears. Of all the female country singers I have listened to (believe me, I’ve given quite a few of them their fair chances in hopes of eliminating my bias), only one has ever managed to make it to my music library.
Kathy Mattea has had quite an extensive career in the music business, though I doubt many have followed her career religiously. She released her self-titled debut album in 1984, and has released a total of seventeen original ones in her twenty-five years of active musical artistry. In 1990, she released a compilation of some of her most popular songs to that date, titled “A Collection of Hits.” Of all the CDs in all the world, it is this one that means the very most to me.
Growing up, my parents never had much of an interest in broadcasting music throughout our home. When the house wasn’t silent, it was filled with the sounds of a television show. When I had the privilege of spending the night at a friend’s house, I was enthralled by the ways some family members would go about their days, with eclectic musical pieces filling their respective houses. Even as a child, I thought there was something so much more special about conducting ones daily affairs to the sound of music. Although my parents never made the broadcasting of music a household custom, they did occasionally groove to some tunes. My Dad, who has always maintained a certain swagger (like you wouldn’t believe for a man his age), has always loved the sounds of Motown. The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Commodores, and others of the like are some of my favorites, most likely because my dad taught me from a very early age that those men knew how to do music the right way. I could always count on dad for some real musical ditties when I needed them the most. Mom, on the other hand, almost never spoke about music. She may have remarked about diggin’ the Rolling Stones or CCR “back in the day,” but she never really seemed enthused about any piece of music… until one day she heard (and subsequently bought) Kathy Mattea’s “Collection of Hits.”
From the day my mother bought this CD, she was in love. When we had people coming over for dinner, this album was playing in the background. When we were hanging out by the pool, these songs were playing. One might be inclined to think that years and years of hearing almost exclusively the same set of songs over and over again would cause me to have a certain hatred for them. I suppose this phenomenon may hold true for some, but for me it has had precisely the opposite effect. I love these songs more today than I ever thought I could. Sure, I own other pieces of music that I hold to higher musical standards than the ones on Mattea’s 1990 album, but no others that are supplanted as concretely in my heart and mind. I am tied to these songs as a professional baseball player may be tied to his first Little League glove, or an artist to his first-ever painting. They may just be antique artifacts worthy of no more than a garage sale to others, but to us they mean just about everything. These songs encapsulate a part of myself that I love dearly… a part of me that can only be communicated through the songs themselves.
I hope everyone has an artifact like my Kathy Mattea CD. Whether it be a piece of music, art, or something else, I think it’s important that we remind ourselves about the things in life that helped us get to where we are today, and how we wouldn’t give them up for anything. Anything.
“Like a warm spring rain on the roof above
The way you called my name when we make love
While the world outside my window goes insane
You’re here to remind me, a few good things remain.”