Recently I was explaining to the Mrs. that for the first ten minutes of every day, between the time I crawl out of bed to when I get out of the shower, I feel the weight of the world crushing me into a finely ground paste. My brain starts spinning with all the things I have to do that day and all the things I forgot to do the day before. I’m pretty sure I spend the night storing up a zillion thoughts while I sleep, only to have them unleashed in a torrent of negativity, as though they are coming out of the shower head. It is, to be accurate, a shower of doom.
At this point she says, “Why don’t you get one of those shower radios? You can listen to music to take your mind off things." To which I replied, “That is your greatest idea since the time you let me use the chainsaw in the house to dismantle the old piano.” Point being, music can be a meditative force that can provide focus and take you mind to a calm place. It doesn’t matter if you’re singing along to Walk Like an Egyptian or War Pigs, as long as it puts you in the moment. Go ahead…sing along and be happy. Just like witches at black masses.
2. Spontaneous dance party
Any time or any place music is playing, the phenomenon known as the spontaneous dance party can erupt. Like an un-choreographed Flash mob, people just drop what they are doing and get down. It happens on back porches in the summer, in bars after midnight, and at all points in between. At my house it usually happens in the kitchen, during meal preparation. Cooking to music is a good thing. Cooking while throwing down some sweet dance moves is a great thing. Occasionally, Mrs. Rock and Roll Librarian and Junior will join in and we get our dance on. Recommended pairing: Bob Marley while making jerk chicken offers a great chance to shake it down while adding a touch of island authenticity to your dish.
Having music affect you emotionally is a pretty powerful thing. A certain song may bring tears, or joy, or better yet, tears of joy. It might be the Hallelujah chorus in Handel’s Messiah that makes you shiver or a cheesy love song that makes your heart ache but either way, how cool is it that some sounds put together with some words can have the power to reduce you to a puddle? There is a live version of Eric Clapton’s Running on Faith where, amidst the climax of the song, the back-up girls are just killing it, and he is doing a call and answer kind of thing with them and kind of soloing at the same time, and every time I hear it, it makes me smile. How could you not take advantage of some free mood altering stuff that won’t leave you with a hangover?
4. Connect with the Kids
Show some interest in what the kids are listening to these days and you can really make a connection.
“So son…how about that new Bruno Mars featuring Rhianna and Jay Z?” I ask casually.
“Dad…I don’t even know what you are saying to me right now.”
“You know….I Should Have Bought You Flowers.”
Then I sing in my best falsetto “I shoulda brought you flowers, I shoulda held your hand.”
“Dad....first of all, that doesn’t feature anyone, and it’s called When I was your Man.”
Well…I like that one. It’s not as crap as the rest of the stuff you listen to.”
“I like that one too dad.”
5. Air Guitar/Drumming practice
Everyone has an inner air guitarist waiting to be released. Like anything though, you need to practice or else your technique won’t get any better. (You never know, you might want to enter the air guitar world championships that are held every year – this year in Oolu, Finland) While not as popular a pursuit, air drumming should also be considered a legitimate form of music appreciation. If you are up for it, try out Jet’s Are you Gonna Be My Girl for a fun air guitar thrash. Recommended air drumming is the intro for Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher, or anything by Rush of course.
You can’t sing dude. Seriously. However, the beauty of singing along to the pros is that the loudness of the radio will cover the suckiness of your voice. If you’re anything like me, when you’re rocking down the highway, volume cranked and belting out Black Hole Sun along with Chris Cornell, you sound great. Listen to music, sing along and before you know it, you’ll be hitting the Karaoke bars and wowing them with your vocal stylings.
If the only sounds you hear during your workout are the clanging of weights and the strained grunting of overdeveloped thugs, I’ve got some bad news for you. You’re in prison. Here on the outside we’re allowed to listen to music any time we like, so why not during your workout? Make yourself a playlist of your favourite up-beat tunes and you’ll burn through the workout with the greatest of ease. It’s a fact. (For real…I read it in Men’s Health magazine.) If you are a runner and you have to go solo, an iPod makes things much more enjoyable. Just don’t make it so loud you can’t hear the traffic. Safety first kids.
Can’t sleep? Radiohead - The Bends or Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
9. Broaden your horizons
They say that most people are prone to listen to the same music they listened to in high school, even after 20 or 30 years, because it harkens back to a time in your life when your main occupation was having fun. This can be a dangerous proposition if you came up in the disco era, or perhaps went through a bad Marky Mark phase. I’m as guilty as the next guy when it comes to reverting back to the old ways, but I still think it’s important to rotate the playlist and keep an eye out for the next Bob Dylan. If you are stumped, my new school favourites are Amos Lee, The Civil Wars, and The Decemberists. Keep searching the old stuff too though. I’ve rediscovered the obscure workings of Steve Earle, Bob Mould of Husker Du fame and Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door, which for some reason I used to think was crap.
10. Set the Mood
You need to know your music if you’re going to take control of the iPod. Megadeth at a dinner party is not really cool, unless it’s a barbarian’s feast. Same goes for the dance party you’re hosting or the backyard BBQ. It’s helpful to have a great collection to draw on and even better if you can match the right tunes with the crowd.
Your homework if you should choose to accept it….I just discovered Grace Potter and I dig this song.