The power of music is its ability to etch deeply into our minds. How often does the refrain of a song work its way through our head over and over and over again. Most times, it seems arbitrary and random. Where did that song come from?
Nevertheless the songs can be very persistent. Some can color a whole season, some a particular event, some a moment, and some a day. The song refrain is almost like the voice of the Divine reminding, consoling, or even guiding us somehow.
The song acts as a farmer laying seeds. The lyrics go out like the random sprinkling of seeds down a certain walking lane. What will happen to those seeds? No one really knows. Will it rain? Will it flood? Will it not rain at all?
Will birds come down and eat the seeds before they are planted? How many scenarios can happen to those seeds. How rare and how wonderful a miracle it really is when one makes it. The seed makes it into the soil where it will do what it is planted to do.
The classics are those refrains that forever whatever reason make it into the sub-conscious of a people. The make it through all the hoops to get to that special place, almost untouchable. They animate a thought or feeling like nothing else.
Of course they are worn out. The spread so far usually that the very thing that attracted us to them eventually repels us. But after that phase of hating something just because it is massively popular ends, we realize the hypocrisy.
Our contempt of the familiar is not its problem, its ours. Where so many hipster artists today suffer from trying to stay aloof enough to remain cool, there is great freedom understanding this principle. Humans will always do this.
We despise what is common. We search constantly for something else, for something better, for something newer. We, especially Americans, innovate to our own despair. We fail to truly enjoy something, worried about its associations instead.
We re-invent classic ideas, melodies, progressions, themes over and over and over. In our attempts for new we simply borrow from the past and dress it up in some different clothes, sometimes acknowledging sometimes not what we borrow.
Is it that we are not really that inventive OR that everything has really been tried? Is there nothing new under the sun? With technology that of course seems not to be the case. Yet we still have the same basic 8 notes to work with.
No matter how we dress up those 8 notes and the combinations thereof we can not necessarily come to new progressions, but we can make new arrangements - timely ones that speak powerfully to our time and our place.
The naysayer will always say “what’s the point?” We’ve already heard this. Maybe. But not from me. Not in this time and place. Life requires we “own” our particular part of history. We need to act, to create, to sing, to make our music!