Stealing my soul

I’ve written about music so many times before on this blog. It’s clear it’s something that’s important to me, perhaps so much so that it’s become trite. I mean, who doesn’t like music, right? We are all experts in the things that we love and which move us.

There are times, though, when we encounter a musical experience that feels connected to our very essence. An experience that makes us so immediately vulnerable that a stranger could sweep in and steal our soul — an experience that raw, that open. Last night’s Robert Glasper Experiment gig was one of those experiences. It was very similar to the experience I had when Esperanza Spalding was in town last year at the same time (for the same festival — don’t get me started on how sad I am that the Mosaic festival is no more after this year). It’s also a similar experience to those I had in my early 20s when I was discovering all kinds of new-to-me vibes — Roy Ayers, Maceo Parker, Medeski Martin & Wood, Hugh Fraser, Oliver Gannon, De La Soul, NuYorican Soul and the DJ team of Little Louie Vega and Kenny Dope Gonzales. As I said in my last post, in these instances, I can almost feel my brain chemistry changing. I can feel the neurons saying to each other, “What the ffffff!!!! ZOMG that’s so similar to this thing I know about wayyyyyyy back here [digging up Sade, Bobby Caldwell, The Four Tops, James Taylor], but duuuuuuuude, it’s way spicier! It’s the same, but different! And I love it! MORE MORE MORE!”

Daniel Levitin would say this is precisely what is happening, and is exactly why we love music, and why we gravitate toward specific tracks by artists we know and love. Btw, if you’re a music lover and have NOT read that book, go purchase it now. Now now now now now. It will change the way you think about what you listen to. It is fascinating, and one of my Top 10 books of all time. I have purchased it as a gift for exactly 5 people.

Today I just wanted to express my gratitude for

  1. exposure to this kind of music. If I had never been exposed, I never would have known.
  2. access to this kind of live music — it’s not always cheap, but I am grateful that this fits into my budget and lifestyle.
  3. all the people in my life who influence my musical tastes. Some will never know how influential they have been.

One day I will write a proper tribute to

…  the sales floor dude at A&B records in Vancouver, circa 1994, who spent more than an hour with me, opening CDs for me to listen to, talking me through the Brand New Heavies’ albums and sharing which other artists their producers had worked with. I discovered SO MUCH music from that conversation it is ridiculous. That conversation still influences my choices today.

… my hip-hop B-boy online boyfriend, circa CompuServe, 1995-1996: Anacron from L.A. (but originally from Chicago), an artist in his own right who spent hours online chatting and on the phone with me, talking me through Roy Ayers, Maceo Parker, the origins of hip hop in The Bronx, the differences between NYC-style hip hop and Chicago-style hip hop, and everything in between. I so valued his expertise, his story-telling, and his caring nature.

… and a few other kindred music spirits who influenced my music in ways they probably don’t realize.

In the meantime, my gratitude will be manifested in how artists like Robert Glasper, Derek Hodge, Esperanza Spalding, Jill Scott (and many more) make music that feels connected to my very essence, that makes me so immediately vulnerable that a stranger could sweep in and steal my soul … an experience that raw, that open.


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