Every summer I find myself seeking new adventures in the kitchen, a great read (or several), a patio chair by the pool, some house project to undertake, and I'll admit, a few nights with a few too many margaritas. There is nothing like a summer soundtrack to serenade you gently through the days and revive you each night. Some years I've sought the classics, finding comfort in the Elton John; Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young; Jimmy Buffet; The Temptations; Otis Redding; and any sound I heard pumped through the halls of my childhood growing up as the soul (not a typo) daughter of the Cardinal of Song. Other years I've loved the hip hop and dancing beats of Nelly, Jayzee, Destiny's Child, and yes, even Fergie Ferg (gonna luv ya long time). Local radio pumped whatever I needed.
This summer I find myself searching for the sounds of now. No, not Ryan Seacrest's, Randy Jackson's, or Clear Channel's guide to what's relevant. Blue-eyed Bride's discussion on modern music's lack of contribution to the world of song, a lack I am almost willing to fully admit, prompted me to look around, or better yet, listen around to see what I might find. We will not change the fact that our children will listen to the likes of Lady GaGa and shout lyrics such as "Shawty fire burning on the dance floor" with moves to match, and yes, we must fill our own houses with the spirits of McCartney, Buffet, Joel, and their legendary compadres.
Consider how our grandparents must have felt when Elvis with his hips, Creedence Clearwater Revival with their cacophonous rock, and Bob Dylan and the plea to not feel so all alone, graced the airways, replacing the jazzy rhythms, dreamy ballads, and sock-hop frenzy of their own times. In fact, just listen to our grandparents' music. You'll recognize the sounds, and if that makes them legends, ok, I will give it to you; the sounds surely define a generation. Yet, our parents aren't exactly raving about the Dick Haymes and Harry James to which their parents jammed. The 1960s-70s in all its spiritual glory simply gave us something revolutionary.
The issue is not that our generation isn't delivering its fair share of lyrics to touch the souls of lovers, poets, dreamers, believers, doers and pass on to our posterity. The issue is not that our generation is numb to feeling and incapable of expression.
The issue is exposure and those in control of it. Big wigs dealing sex and Hollywood dictate popularity. The same sources that fill our minds with unhealthy images of our bodies and spirits are filling our ears with the overplayed garbage radio shares so freely.
Consequently, the true musicians in the shadows perhaps hope not to be grouped into the class of musicians achieving such popularity.
Legendary music from who I hope will prove to be legendary musicians exists, and it's our job to identify and share it. We love our parents' music not only for its inherent qualities but also for our parents' passion for it. They simply had the luxury of the radio to do it, but we surely have the advantage--paging itunes and youtube, my friends.
My summer soundtrack includes gems from the following artists, songs which I will hum as melodious lullabies for my restless babies, play as sing-alongs for my energetic toddles, embarrass in car rides with angst-ridden middle-schoolers, and if all ends well, sing with and cry alongside as I drop off my college freshmen. My future daughters may even choose from one to dance with their father on their wedding day. Whatever the situation, with fervor I will dazzle their ears and pass on our generation's best, a best that can contend with that of our parents. There may be fewer, but their talent bodes well.
The Storytellers, Lyricists, and Lovers:
Edwin McCain, Counting Crows, Train and Pat Monahan, Shawn Mullins, Matchbox 20 and Rob Thomas, Jason Mraz, Better Than Ezra, Gavin Degraw, Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Tyrone Wells
The Musicians (Category is exclusive in my opinion--hands down this talent is unmatched):
Dave Matthews Band
Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters
The Cowboys and Beach Boys:
George Strait, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Zac Brown Band, Gary Allen, Jack Ingram, Pat Green, and Sugarland
No Doubt, Justin Timberlake (come on, he's highly influential)
Last but not Least, The Ladies:
Sarah Mclachlan, Jewel, Sheryl Crow, Sarah Bareilles, Norah Jones
(And I have not mentioned The Killers, The Fray, Coldplay. I'm not a fan but guarantee you will find another blog awarding their legendary status.)
Fulfill your musical obligation for future generations; find the legendary, blare your belief in it wholeheartedly.
I'll begin--what might you add to my collection?