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Social Distancing Brings Music Friends Together

Lately, I have been thinking about the 80’s and 90’s. Well, mix tape songs in general. I have had many types of the Walkman allowing me to hear hundreds of cassette tapes in my life. Music has tagged along with me over the years while riding my bike, delivering newspapers, mowing the lawn, taking walks around the block or driving to the store.

I remember buying albums on cassette tapes. That was a lot of fun. Nothing was as cool as buying blank tapes and recording tunes onto them in order to make your own mix of songs you felt like hearing. I mostly did this for myself. In the middle to late 90’s specifically, I made them for car rides and for friends to check out. I would record songs off the radio (commercials included) and mix it all up for pure fun and enjoyment.

Then there was the dating period of making those “crush” mixes and summer love feelings. “Break up” and “I hate you” mixes would soon follow. But it is amazing how we can be our own DJ’s to express wonderful and sad emotions.

Some of my mixes were themed and others just purely mood driven. Perhaps, this is all just a passing phase but I am in a really good mood right now!!!

I like to put these same songs from the mix tapes onto playlists. Listening to them on my iPhone nowadays bring back some awesome memories that can be surprising! It’s like transporting back in time.

Back in the day, these tapes were a mandatory way to communicate how you felt about others and yourself at the time you compiled these track arrangements.

In this day and age, it’s all about playlists. I have made another hundred playlists for all of the same reasons. But recently, I found myself bored with the process a little bit and wanted to connect with someone and trade music ideas and playlists in a different way.

I casually spoke to some people in the music groups I belonged to on Facebook. They were merely music acquaintances. One of these members just happened to ask a random question one day saying that she wanted to follow others on Apple Music and get inspired. I saw that as an opportunity. We followed each other. I sent her a message. “Do you want to create a playlist with me? I’ll choose the opening track. Then we’ll spin off of it one track at a time per person. Make sense?”

Niki (her name) agreed and loved the idea. She thought it was great! Making a mix together sounded so cool to her. We gradually began to learn so much about one another while collaborating on several playlists. Both of us are good at determining track orders and how they should flow. We created some cool themes and moods. Not always on purpose.

Our themes have included songs you can drive fast to, songs about youth and spirituality, punks, cheerleaders, rebels, Gothic worlds, storms, wolves, ghosts and the list goes on and on. The two of us are friends now. Thanks to music, our lives got better the day we met during this scary time in the world. With social distancing going on, it feels like I am far away from all of my friends and family members. However, when you share something passionate with someone and can connect on another level, that distance can really bring you so much closer to that person.

Both Niki and I have suffered traumatic brain injuries. She learned about my brain surgery, my struggles with ADHD and my hip issues. I learned about her stroke, her challenge with severe memory loss and how she struggles to still paint and draw (among other works of art). We simply were destined to be friends and it literally came out of the clear blue.

NIKI

As I mentioned earlier, we found one another in a Tool (music group) site on Facebook. Which was so weird because I only joined that group to talk about their new album. Unfortunately, the group failed to impress me and I felt out of place. I almost quit the group. Niki, a fellow Gemini, was the only one who stood out from everyone because she was positive, inspirational and had uplifting energy.

The appreciation of friendship is shared. This musical experience has made us both happy. Being able to send songs to each other without judgement is a good feeling. Nothing is weird or inappropriate. It’s wonderful to be able to relate to someone where kindness prevails.

In the end, I realized how good we have it in life. Each day is a blessing. These playlists and our conversations allowed me to reflect on life. Music is a universal language and clearly can bring people together. In these troubled times, its great to connect and share a bond.

I invite others to do the same. Take your passion and reach out. Connect to people. Don’t let this quarantine situation scare or depress you. Trust your instincts. There are folks out there looking for a friend like you. If you have stories similar to this one, I invite you to share them in the comments below. Peace, Love and Music. Thanks.

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My CRAZY music mind wants to know!!!!

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So I was listening to Paul Simon on the radio just moments ago and I was starting to think to myself, man there are a lot of albums out there! Like an unbelievable amount! Over the last century, at least! Not that long ago, I was trying to compile a list of the top ten albums that most people can agree on as being some of the best albums ever recorded. It yielded a lot of ones like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis for Jazz, The Beach Boys. All of those. But it always seems like I am putting something new on my iPhone or iPad device because I wanna hear something different, fresh and new. Perhaps a record I haven’t heard in a number of years.

So first and foremost, I am only speaking on behalf of myself but I look back when I was a kid and the music that I grew up with and this is sort of a continuation from a post maybe a few months ago where I was talking about what kind of music I like and I posted a bunch of videos from the stuff of the 1980’s. So I guess this is somewhat of a follow up to that but not really. Anyway, I was just thinking like…I got this book at home that lists over a thousand albums that you must listen to before you die. While I agree on a number of those choices…..you know….you got the popular ones, more obscure ones, artsy, experimental and blues. All that stuff. It’s hard to just decide. I feel it’s an OCD thing. There’s this desire of mine to catalog everything, own everything or have access to it all.

I have this hard time with playlists. Sure every month I seem to post a new playlist which I will be sure to do again, soon. But it’s like, I don’t know, I have a hard time with how all of these playlist will just be on my iPod device. It just sort of like frustrates me. It’s different from the days of having a shelf full of CDs or vinyl records. And you would put them in alphabetical order so if I want to listen to Alice in Chains, then I know it’s at the beginning and if I want to listen to Frank Zappa, then I know it’s at the end. Over the years we have been acquiring more digital music in the mp3 format. Most of us have converted our music over to that compressed digital world. I’m not entirely happy with that because it’s really just for convenient purposes. At least I have 3 small shelves of vinyl records at home. Over a hundred or so. I hope to build on that collection. While I am not exactly promoting vinyl here, it is certainly something that I favor. But even with those, I don’t own everything.

The point of this blog post is: how do we know what albums to listen to? When making mixtapes, how do we know what we’re supposed to put on them? I think times have changed since the 80’s and 90’s when we wanted to entice interest from a friend into a particular band or to communicate musically to a friend or just a way to express your feelings about life in that moment on that mixtape. So to get back to earlier, I was listening to Paul Simon on the radio. I’m thinking, a lot of folks out there love that album, Graceland. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is another example. You just start thinking about all of those classics like The Beatles, White Album and so on and so forth.

When is enough enough. Or is there ever enough? Maybe you just keep going out there and keep searching for more. One minute I will be listening to brand new Indie Pop music and that’s all I am gonna listen to for the next couple of weeks and suddenly jump into another obscure genre and start digging that for awhile. Why not check out some old time country music from the 1930’s? Maybe that’s what it’s all about. Whatever mood you’re in at a given time and place. Zappa’s Hot Rats right now. One of his biggest selling records! Ok now I feel like listening to Genesis. Now it’s time for Muddy Waters or some Louis Armstrong. Hey now I’m gonna listen to Cat Power! It’s like, is that ok to do? Perhaps it is. I don’t know. There’s really no rules. Not a law abiding method that I have to follow.

Maybe I just needed to get this off my chest. The Grammy’s were on recently and I was majorly disappointed, again. Awards do not validate the quality of music that I enjoy listening to. The circus shows of politics should not be mixed together with music. Gin and tonic goes well with Jazz. But gay marriage and hip hop at an award program seems out of place. IMHO. But anyway, after Simon played on the radio, the Smashing Pumpkins came on with a hit song, 1979. Again, two styles of music separated by 10 years. You do what you want to do. I could hang out with a bunch of friends that love listening to Miles Davis and some John Coltrane and be sound as a pound. Then I could run into someone else that wants to hear some Katy Perry and Imagine Dragons right now. My nieces are really into them as well. My parents, sister and wife are too.

I tend to gravitate towards Pink Floyd and Tool. Bands like that. But lately over the past couple years, I found myself listening to a lot of independent heroes like The Japandroids, Vampire Weekend and bands that are more to the left of the dial. Speaking of which, we have The Replacements to thank for that coined term. Don’t forget Husker Du and The Minutemen. I could go back and listen to those guys if I feel like it. I could grab their stuff, which is in digital format now, although I think I have a few on cd. When I say grab, I mean pluck it out of the computer, pop it into a device or listen to it on the radio. But sometimes I lose meaning and the point of a conversation and maybe that’s okay to start off and finish on two different notes.

I do know that this is all about music and I feel like moods play a role in it. So perhaps it’s all about the moods. Maybe it depends on what mood I am in and that’s what I listen to. There is no final end. I mean I guess when you’re dead it’s over. Just keep on trucking while you’re hear and alive. Lungs are pumping air in and out of you. You have ears that you haven’t lost much hearing to. At the end of March I will be attending a small club in Chicago, called The Empty Bottle. The Dum Dum Girls will be playing. I cannot wait! I can listen to those girls days on end but then I can easily move on to something else. I just know that I love to babble because I am good at it and it’s just what I do. Peace yo.