Music on the brain

Finding new music isn't easy, you sometimes have to give it time to sink in.

"A mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it's not open."--Frank Zappa

We all tend to like what we like--the music we know--but finding new music that breaks through can be almost impossible for some folks. I'm always on the prowl for something different, it's just that too often the new music that immediately grabs my ear bores me in a week or two. I've learned over the years the music that doesn't instantly connect is the stuff that sometimes sticks around for the long haul. I remember when Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" came out in 2002 I tried to like it, but the tunes seemed self consciously arty, and though I must have listened to the CD ten times over a couple of months, it just laid there. Yeah, I know it garnered rave reviews, and at the end of the year "Foxtrot" wound up on just about everybody's Record of the Year lists. I filed it next to my White Stripes CDs, where it stayed for years.

Foxtrot and Sky Blue Sky, both are essential listening Steve Guttenberg

A few months ago Sirius Satellite Radio was playing the hell out of Wilco's newest release, "Sky Blue Sky," and I liked it well enough to buy the CD, and it slowly grew on me. So the other day I pulled out "Foxtrot" and thought it was absolutely brilliant! I loved the sound, it's a wonderful combination of dense and airy, the instruments seemed to float in midair, and even Jeff Tweedy's whacked-out lyrics were starting to make sense.

Now here's the point: the music was the same as it ever was, I changed. It's a lesson I have to learn again and again, the "hard" music can be the best, you just have to be in the right frame of mind to let it sink in. I hated Miles Davis' fusion jazz for decades, but now I love "Bitches Brew." What can I say, things change.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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