Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Completely Random Thoughts 40: Do You Hear What I Hear?

Okay, I thought that I'd respond to a question that I used to get a lot and just got three more of them yesterday in response to the review (or whenever that was) of I Wayne's latest album, "Life Teachings". The question is - "How do you listen to music?". Alone, it's pretty odd which is why I just never got into it and, of course, there're variations of the question which are generally something like "as long as your reviews are, how do you listen to THAT MUCH music?" - Or something like that. My answer to that question, of course, is that I love it. I listen to that much the same way I breath "that much" oxygen. It's just what I have to do.

But as far as how I generally listen to music. I try to literally take in everything there is to a tune, even if I don't like it too much. My memory, when it comes to music at least (I'm very bad with dates for some reason), is pretty good, so when I listen to something as deep as I possibly can, it goes to memory and I can then use it for reference (which is . . . GOLD for me and would explain why anytime I hear someone is looking for work and is saddened by a lack of success, I start singing Jah Mason songs) ("keep your joy, keep your joy, even if you're unemployed"). So, what I do is to give something a very superficial listen, initially. If it has ANYTHING interesting at that point (and that means that even if what I heard was horrible, but it comes from someone who I am somewhat of a fan of), I'll try to listen to it again at some point. If/When I do come back, I'm listening for everything. I can listen to a tune strictly for the lyrics and if I don't like the riddim, but I do like what is being said, again, the words go into memory and are there whenever the situation calls upon them. Such as:

"Black woman nuh mek no time fi go sit down and gossip
Nah su su su at all, she nuh mek dat no habit
Her sacred life, she just ah keep dat a secret
Cuz stritcly love and righteousness a what she ah deal wid
Stick on pon one man, just like a full force magnet
Black Woman so virtuous she mek di jezebelles panic
She bun a hotta fyah di makeup and lipstick
And all dem false hair, she simply seh she nah wear it
Black Woman a you alone, you got yuh body so well fit
Ital a wah yuh eat, yuh nah nyam no greasy meat
Anyting weh you deserve the Ras shall surely give it
Black Woman yah soil so rich, mi just nah stop from till it"

Biggup the Ambassador. And if you read my stuff to any degree, you know how much I do pay attention to lyrics. In that case, specifically, I look for so many things. I'm probably the only person who'd make a large connection from Sara Lugo to Natural Black in how they actually write lyrics. I'm listening for recycled lyrics, I'm listening for influences and other things. If I can hear a song 'you' do and that you wrote and I can draw some type of comparison to someone else or another song from your own catalog, that's a powerful train of thought for me and it's even more powerful when, sometimes later, I hear you, yourself, incidentally refer to something along the same line of thinking (biggup Bunji Garlin). And it's no great coincidence that some of my absolute favourite artists are people who write these type of songs which are either just so FULL in terms of information or are so open-ended in terms of interpretation and some of my favourite songs fall into those categories as well. People like Sizzla, Lutan Fyah, Capleton, even Bunji Garlin - I consider them to be teachers. They're charged, in a most informal sense, with educating the world and even if you disagree with the 'lesson', it presents itself in a way, so publicly, which provokes thought and provokes discussion. And that's how I listen to the same song one hundred times or more and STILL find myself able to take something new from it. I love it! It's fuel for an overactive and serotonin deficient brain.

And as far as how that might transfer or show itself in a review, I try to make those connections when I write as well. I don't read too many reviews (at all) and particularly not before I write a something because I don't want to follow a popular opinion if there does exist one (which is rarely a problem with many of the things we write about) (unfortunately). So I'm someone who may help to establish some type of prevailing opinion (as ridiculous as it almost always is) about some of the more obscure selections we cover (and some of the not-so obscure ones, apparently the review for Takana Zion's last album, "Rasta Government" (in stores now), had legs).

I want to have these things in my mind and I want everyone to. So I don't mind people going crazy that I liked or didn't like a particular album, because I appreciate the passion and that passion, for me, is made even greater when you can throw in some type of rationality. If you can tell me exactly WHY you think I'm a damn fool for calling something great that was horrible or for saying that I 'don't get', at all, why people like someone that you love (biggup Alborosie), then I appreciate it, because it shows that, in your own way, you went through the same process that I did. And even if you don't - Just get in your head! The music is so nice and it's made for so many people to enjoy and we do. So love it up and that's how I listen to music.

{Pictured: One of the coolest gifts I've ever received, House of Marley Headphones 'Stir It Up'}

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