If I had to choose between giving up having anything to do with Scoresheet baseball or giving up exploring
for new music, I would instantly choose to sacrifice my baseball hobby for my musical hobby. Although, I spend vastly more
time on baseball and it gives me great satisfaction, music cuts deeper and has such a greater variety of feelings. Thankfully,
we don’t have to make such choices. In fact, we can play music as we are dong our baseball analysis – or, if watching
games is one of your things, drowning out the likes of Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan.
Of course, musical taste is dependent on natural individual inclinations, musical experiences, as well
as life experiences. I have been knocked out recently by a record released in
’08, but just noticed has made its way on the NY Times bestseller list. First,
let me summarize the experiences that have shaped my musical taste. I grew up in the 60s in a white affluent Connecticut suburb
of New York with parents who weren’t particularly musical – just enough to expose me to Benny Goodman, Harry Belefonte,
Arthur Rubenstein, Perez Prado, Richard Wagner, and the original Broadway cast’s
version of West Side Story. I am old enough to remember Beatle-mania and singing
on the playground with three friends wearing cheap mop-top wigs. I was John, of course. My older sister turned me on to Cream,
Jimi Hendrix, The Band, Crosby,
Stills, and Nash, Carole King, Traffic, and Spirit. I went to away to a university near Boston
where I studied The Who, Led Zeppelin, Yes, Pink Floyd, the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, Genesis, and Queen more than
I studied Economics, Drama, History, and Philosophy. (I did get an A in Statistics, though!) Eventually, I migrated to California for my last three years of bachelorhood and danced my head
off to The Clash and Talking Heads. Finally, I settled in Toronto for married life making Brian Ferry / Roxy Music and other mellow masters a priority.
How about some old Nat King Cole . . . or Johnny Hartman with John Coltrane? However, neither raising a family nor mellowing
has detracted me from enjoying U2, Radiohead, Garbage, Bjork, or Moby - or discovering The Gypsy Kings, Paulo Conte, and Bueno
Vista Social Club. (Moby, by the way, is from my home town in Connecticut.)
In fact, I often trade music with my kids exchanging such finds as Tricky, Portishead, Massive Attack, Fat Boy Slim, or some
classic rock such as Stevie Ray Vaughn. (I confess to liking some of the Spice Girls’ songs, too.) Meanwhile, I keep
going back to Miles, Sinatra, Satchmo, the Classical masters, Baroque, and Gregorian – not to mention the less classic,
but just as uplifting Chambers Brothers. The last few years I have mostly been tuned to great melodic song-writing-singers
– particularly Ben Folds, Coldplay, and Keane – although all three have had some duds. Their great melodies hark
back to the Beatles and Leonard Bernstein (West Side Story), when I first fell
in love with music.
My four favourite rock bands of all-team (in alphabetical order): Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead,
and Yes, but it is tough leaving out The Who and the Allman Brothers – and certainly Dark Side of the Moon is a strong candidate for best rock LP ever. Spirit’s Twelve Dreams of Dr. Scardonicus is the most under-heralded gem of the rock era.
Now, you have the reference from which I am making my recommendation: a young British lass named Adele.
I’ve just downloaded a bunch of her songs from her CD 19. Each one is a gem,
but, perhaps the most poignant is “Hometown Glory”. I don’t want to pass judgement too strongly until I
play these songs and the rest of her CD more. The melodies do not seem to be nearly as catchy as those sing along artists
I just mentioned above. However, her music has a fabulous variety of feelings and is hitting me deeply. My early proclamation
is that 19 is to my taste the best CD since Hopes
and Fears from Keane in 2004. Adele’s voice will remind many of Amy Winehouse – just as authentically British
low caste, but without the scuzziness - and far more original. After listening to Winehouse, I feel the need to take a shower.
After Adele, I want to shout to the world, “I’m in love” (with music, baseball, and my family, of course).