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Music in the soul can be heard by the universe – Lao Tzu

The first two records I ever owned were 45s that I played on my Dad’s 45 rpm record player. The record player had an automatic record changer which allowed me to listen to both records in succession or one record repeatedly. For one of my precious 45s, I remember the title clearly. It was “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr. The other title has been obscured by time. I do, however, vividly remember laying on our green, living room carpet playing the two 45s over and over for the entire day. There were no headphones available for the player so everyone in the house also listened to the songs over and over all day long. I am not sure how my mom was able to tolerate the continual lyrics….”The candy man can cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good”.

A few years later when I started making money with a paper route (I earned a penny for every paper delivered), I was able to purchase music on my own. By then, I was getting albums instead of 45s with the rationalization that I was getting more songs for my hard earned dollar. One day I upset my mom because I had purchased two albums in one week which she thought was a waste of money. The 2nd album was a double album so, in my mind, it was deal too good to pass up. Looking back, perhaps it was a waste of money as my choice in the music was dubious. The double album was by Sonny & Cher.
My taste in music has evolved over the years. Sappy pop like The Candy Man and Sonny & Cher changed in High School where I learned to like the music station WXRT, Chicago’s Finest Rock. This brought into my musical sensibilities Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Moody Blues, and many other bands from the 1960s and 1970s.

New Wave started during my HS years but I was not interested. I much preferred Progressive Rock, the sounds of Genesis, Yes, and Supertramp. It wasn’t until a trip to Wisconsin with my cousins that I finally grew into New Wave music. They introduced me to the Psychedelic Furs and I soon was immersed in Ministry, New Order, and many other New Wave groups. This was also the first time that music moved me to dance and I became a dancing fool whenever I heard the New Wave tunes. For about a year, I went to a bar named Erik the Red every Wednesday evening where it was not unusual to find me, like Billy Idol, Dancing with Myself.

Now, I listen to a wide variety of Music. I am as happy listening to the sultry vocals of Billie Holiday as I am to the crunching vocals and driving riffs of Linkin Park. I love the old jazz vocals, new wave, heavy metal, blue grass, industrial and even, a little bit of country. I also have some Indian classical music that I was introduced to while visiting India on one of my business trips. I woke up early one morning to attend a morning raga with my friend Inayat.

I listen to music when driving, when working out, when bike riding. I find the right music moves me to excel at those activities. I listen to music while working at the office. To drown out the chatter of adjoining cubicles, I throw on my headphones and work to the music. This is a technique I learned while trying to study while growing up. I was not able to concentrate over the voices and the sound of the TV but was able to focus when putting on music.

Music is a powerful force in my life. She has the power to soothe me and to amp me up. She has the power to evoke memories and to etch memories deep in my soul, memories that awaken each time the song catches me ear. Thanks to the world of MP3s and portable music players, she is pretty much my constant companion. Without her, I would be a lesser man.


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