Music is the best

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Music is music. It isn’t a contest, it isn’t an “us or them” winner-take-all game. It’s artistic expression, whether we — I — like the music or not. This came to me the other night while watching The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He had on a rap star, Pusha T.

Jethro Tull’s Crest of the Knave

To be honest I had never heard of the guy before, have no interest in his music, after viewing the video clip aired on the show, and no interest in his history. But I applaud his success (he has sold 80 million records) and wish him a pleasant and successful future.

Noah and Pusha T were talking about his friendship with Kanye West and the making of the album, and of course the Grammy Awards. The Grammies have been with us for longer than I can remember — 1959 — which is basically all my life. I’ve had very little interest in the Grammies — it’s just another awards show.

What defines the Grammies for me — still — is the year Jethro Tull won the Best Hard Rock/Metal Recording category for Crest of the Knave over Metallica who had released the historic … And Justice For All (1988). Who thought Jethro Tull belonged in the Hard Rock/Metal category and then thought Tull had a better metal recording than Metallica?

For the record, I like both bands and they are well represented in my iPod. But if Jethro Toll was going to win a Grammy it should have been 10-20 years earlier when they (Ian Anderson) were making iconic, ground-breaking progressive rock albums.

Metallica won the following year and thanked Jethro Tull for not releasing a competing album. It was a not so inside humor

Metallica’s “…And Justice For All”

Both bands have etched their artistic spirit in the annals of rock’n’roll history, music history. Like’em or love’em, Jethro Tull and Metallica have made an impact in our listening habits and society. Both have life-long fans and I’m betting there are quite a few that like both.

But — and there’s always a but — the Grammies just got it wrong, as they often do.

The Grammy Awards are just a joke. Who is more popular, Beyoncé or Taylor Swift? Maybe Beyoncé had the most popular album that year or maybe it was Taylor Swift. The fact is both women are artistic icons in today’s popular music world. Give both of them an award.

It’s not a competition.

The music I love is all over the map artistically. From Eastern European and classical composers like Beethoven, Prokofiev and Mahler, to Zappa/Mothers, Grateful Dead, Beach Boys, Beatles, Stones, Jimi Hendrix and a slew of other “Classic Rock” icons; to James Brown, Funkadelics/Parliament, Prince, to Black Flag, Meat Puppets, Graham Parker and the Rumor, Rollins Band, Soundgarden, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, jeez, and Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Elvis Costello, Dick Dale — it’s a long list. And Aretha Franklin, Carole King, Springsteen, Marcus Miller, Lest I forget: Waylon and Willie, separately or together, Johnny Cash — lest you think I’m only into the old guys — Vince Gill and Brad Paisley; I could keep adding to the list.

The point is the art spans more than a century. Listening to Steely Dan now, “Do It Again.” It just caught my eye as I was reeling through the iPod.

“Your black cards can make you money so you hide them when you’re able
In the land of milk and honey you must put them on the table.”

YouTube screenshot of Jimi Hendrix at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival

Just listen to what you like, try to expand your musical horizons a little, hell, I might sit down and try some Pusha T. There’s some Public Enemy and N.W.A. on this iPod.

Earlier today I was looking at the Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks box set wondering if it is worth it — of course it is. Some would consider a box set of Jay-Z or Marilyn Manson worth it. I don’t know if they have box sets, but if they did they would sell thousands of units and I would applaud their success.

Music is for the people, it makes us feel better, whether we’re in a happy mood or not. When my brother Rick passed away I listened to Zappa for days. When my sister Elaine passed away it was the Grateful Dead. Music is the salve that heals the wounded heart and soul, it is the wings that raise our souls in the best our times.

Frank Zappa in 1975 (Wikipedia)

As FZ said, through the voice of Charming Mary in “Packard Goose”:

“Information is
not knowledge
Knowledge is
not wisdom
Wisdom is not truth
Truth is not beauty
Beauty is not love
Love is not music
Music is THE BEST…”

That’s a nice sentiment to remember this holiday season. What got me started on this rant was that I posted videos of The Beatles and Santana on my facebook page. If for nothing else, FB allows us to share music and art with one another so it has some redeeming value.

Music is the best.

Top photo is a YouTube screenshot of Carlos Santana and Gregg Rolie at Woodstock