an adventure in album appreciation.......
When first contemplating who to ask for music, it dawned on me that throughout my life, I have surrounded myself with the best people to suggest music to me: musicians. While they may play originals or covers of other people's music, they must have their own influences that brought them to their current career. And so it became my initial step on the journey.
I could start from the first suggestions handed to me, yet I'd rather start with the first album that piqued my interest on the list. John, the bassist for Big Bang Baby, explained to me that good music to him is reflected in a body of work rather than in just a song or lyric. It's all about the big picture and not necessarily the one hit that made them famous. That being said, he placed Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album on his quite lengthy list for me. And while I've never exactly listened to Dylan I decided to give it a whirl in order to understand a little more about album appreciation.
So on Friday night, with Matt away at his gig at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, I pulled up the track listing for Blonde on Blonde and proceeded to put on my headphones, crank up the music, and immerse myself. Each song was placed through my trusty Google search engine as I located each track.....making sure that I followed the album listing to stay true to its form.
At first, I realized that no matter what song Dylan sings, he will always have this wavering tone to his voice. Originally, I used to find it kinda annoying. It would constantly have this sort of 'back and forth' motion to it, not a smooth consistency that most artists have to their voice. Yet as I moved past the first track and kept listening to the album itself, Dylan's voice became less annoying or grating.......in fact, I realized that his voice had its own rhythm. It reminded me of the ocean when I heard it, the way that the waves seem to move back and forth, rippling like sound. While at first one may feel a little agitated at hearing him sing, once you continue listening to Dylan, he tends to calm and soothe you, just like those ocean waves.
Secondly, I've also learned how above being a musician......Dylan is truly an amazing poet. Once you get through his voice and the melody, the words shine through. And they're different, spoken from a place that in all my years of writing, I've never been able to find. Who else can evoke such imagery from their words like he does? During my listening experience, I closed my eyes and I could picture the song, something very few artists have been able to accomplish in their career. Add in his voice and the melody, not to mention his classic touch of a harmonica, you have poetry in motion.
And just like John explained to me about focusing on the body of work, I listened in a similar fashion and found that more than anything else, Dylan is best observed when you put his work all together. If you want to focus on one song, that's just fine. True, you may find some songs are better than others, like how I feel "Just Like a Woman" stimulated my auditory senses more than "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again." Yet when you can piece it together and listen in one continuous strand, it's even more epic in meaning.
Before starting this journey, I noticed that a lot of my music wasn't always in full album form. I tend to pick and choose certain songs from particular albums, not really focusing on what the album sounds like as a whole. In today's day and age, we tend to pick apart things to get to what we want, instead of giving everything else attention. I equate it to the equivalent of a really good ice cream sundae. Each component is delicious on its own, yet when you put all the ingredients together, you can appreciate and enjoy it as a whole.
As always, I truly appreciate all the suggestions that have been sent my way. Who knows where my next adventure will take me? We shall see.