an excited michael gunther entered the kslu studio. he began the interview showing off his pride for his hometown - akron, ohio. he explained how his favorite band, the black keys, comes from the city itself. he grinned with pride as he described the black keys concert that was held in akron ohio, an experience that brought both of his loves to life.s this connection between his identity and the band became wildly important in relation to building his musical identity. although music was always a part of his life, his dad was a big fan of the who and the beatles, this moment of musical independence was solidified in his discovery pursuit of the black keys.
where the black keys fulfilled his identity in terms of his hometown, bob dylan's lyricism shaped michael's understanding of the powerful capabilities within music. with great enthusiasm, michael explains how bob dylan absolutely transcended the genre of folk. michael describes how dylan used his platform to put folk music on the map, dylan's music was "revolutionary in nature"and it is this dedication to exploratory music through meaningful lyrics that michael finds so astounding. there are certain aspects of dylan's music that trickles through all of michael's collection. themes of strong and compelling lyrics are present in all of michael's responses and he makes it clear that influential artists are those who can pair meaning with their lyrics. michael explains how this hard work and dedication to poetry in music can be seen in the artists work, and it is music lover's, like michael, who bring awareness to the beauty within this musical symbolism. Michael tells us the most meaningful bob dylan songs is "with god on our side". by presenting contrasting images of various forms of american exploitation with the repeated phrase, "with god on our side", dylan critiques the concepts fueling manifest destiny. in this in-depth analysis of dylan's song, michael reveals his dedication to the meaning and context of lyrics.
through explaining the importance of lyrics, michael embodies the intentionality of a music listener. the way he talks about music, reminds us of the educational potential in music. in regards to social criticism or even just general life experiences and themes, there are so many ways that music can teach us. however, it takes an intentional listening to uncover the artist's intentions. michael reminds us that meaning behind lyrics is what allows music to take form in our understanding and consciousness.
a spunky gabby pops into the studio, exuding a cheerful energy as we begin our interview. right off the bat she tells me how her taste in music has always been a unique one. in elementary school, she was one of the third-graders that was listening to hardcore heavy metal music. most kids on the playground did not share her admiration for the screamo genre. thankfully, where her peers failed her, she was able to find solidarity in her own home. she was able to share her musical appreciation with her brother. gabby reminisces on memories with her brother - the two of them burning cds, exploring new music, and sharing delight in the lyrics of "system of a down". through this shared taste in music, gabby's relationship with her brother became a lot stronger.
in stark contrast to the intensity of "chop suey!", gabby talks about her transition into the music of the 60's. highlighting stars such as the beatles, janice joplin, and the beach boys. she explains how these artists and the overall genre of 60's music embodies style and themes that connect heavily with her personality. the messages of peace exuding from the raspy voice of janice and the goofy stories of happy times in the psychedelic bumps of the beatles, gaby finds another outlet for her ever-changing personhood. while the styles of music could not be more opposite, gabby reflects on the common theme that has followed throughout her taste in music: the ability to connect to the beat. when it comes down to it, gaby connects most to music that moves her - literally! "i love to dance, i used to hate rap but i've been getting more into it just because i like the beat of it." in all aspects of her music, she finds a connection wither to her desire to physically move or emotionally move.
as of late, gabby describes her music selection as being heavily dictated by mood. while happier moods she associates with dance-oriented rap songs, REFLECTIVE MOODS CAN BE PAIRED WITH THE IMPACTFUL LYRICS OF strong female vocalists: LP and daughter. here gabby reveals the importance of music's ability to harness the emotions of a vulnerable experience. she heavily resonates with the lyrics "you've got a warm heart, you've got a beautiful brain, but it's disintegrating from all the medicine." describing mental illness in this loving and understanding way, gabby tells me of the strength that she found in these lyrics. resituating such an isolating experience, into one that conveys the complexity of mental illness and calling to attention the beautiful human behind all the diagnoses. and in this way, gabby reminds us of the connectedness that music offers: the beat's ability to connect both human kinesics and emotion, all the while bringing about a sense of communal understanding.
charlie tells us about the impact a psychedelic family vacation had on igniting his passion for collecting a diversity of music. charlie's brother introduced him to the album cover artist of "Tool" at an art festival he attended with his family. after meeting this artist and watching thier music videos, he tells us that he was completely entranced by the interaction of art and the music of "Tool". this music, and artistic representation, was so different from music he had listened to before, that he was inspired to begin cultivating a great diversity of musical spaces.
charlie outlines an important distinction between "being a music listener and being a fan of music". in his formative years, charlie's father played him records from "the beach boys" as he preached about the significance and meaning of these tracks. although charlie enjoyed the music, there was still a lack of fully understanding the significance of music in his life. after going through grung phases in high school, interacting with the sci-fi artwork from "tool", and taking music into his own hands, he found that by tailoring his music to match his identity, he could encapsulate his ever-changing personhood. in acknowledging the constant flux of life, charlie recognizes the importance of tailoring his music to reflect these changes. he calls this the "metamorphosis of listening habits". as he is growing and changing, so is his music taste - what a wonderful sentiment and such an effective way to go about facing the fears we associate with change. as it is a part of life we cannot avoid, utilizing the power of music to rebrand change is a great way to empower one's self. instead of avoiding the inevitable, charlie's musical metamorphosis rebrands change into a beautiful collage of melodies.
beyond his philosophy of confronting change with music, charlie leaves us with more insightful comments about music ability to help us humans intentionally interact with life. his favorite lyric from the song "disposition" by "tool" captures this sentiment, "mention this to me, watch the weather change." here, charlie describes how change manifests itself in human connection. by acknowledging the fragility of human relationships and emotions, we can be more intentional with our interactions. and therefore, instead of honing in on the negative changes that sometimes take over our relationships, we can celebrate the small moments when we are able to make positive changes in people's disposition. what could be more positive than acknowledging our ability to mold a person's day in a more positive light.
charlie wraps up his interview by revisiting his relationship with the beach boys. where his father brought significance to the lyrics, charlie proves that he can finally understand the emotive capabilities of these lyrics. and it is through this understanding of music's ability to encompass life, his connection with his father is solidified. throughout his interview, charlie beautifully articulates music's ability to help people deal with life in the most meaningful and intentional ways. through the chaos of life and humanity, music reminds us that these emotional experiences that we have are a shared experience. therefore, we shouldn't shy away from these issues, but rather use music to help us to be bold in our interactions with life.
riley opened her interview with a sweet recall of her first memories of music: her father singing her to sleep with johnny cash's "folosom prison blues"; the song that every child loves listening to before they drift into a deep slumber. as visions of johnny drifted through her head, a child-size riley swayed to the folk tunes from her father and the goofy educational tunes from "they might be giants" that her mother played while driving.
after discussing the roots of her musical identity, we started to discuss her formative years in music. during middle school, riley was drawn to artists such as john mayor and taylor swift - two artists that were quite popular among her peers at that time. however, in an effort to form a unique identity, riley describes how the influence of being perceived as "cool" directed her musical consumption. while the initial rational for changing her music habits came from the evils of surface-level, middle school insecurities, she describes how exploring music lead to exploring herself. her words were quite reflective of the vulnerability during this developmental time. by attaching an in-depth and "cool" taste in music, she gained a greater sense of confidence in herself. acquiring a greater sense of self-confidence through music is an absolutely outstanding trait of music (and other forms of art). stories about music's ability to harness strength started flooding my mind: singers overcoming speech impediments, silenced survivors finding their voices in song, and so many other beautiful ways music has allowed people to see thier own strength and beauty and overcome barriers.
while riley's middle school and high school music was about finding identity and having confidence in this identity, her music consumption now is focused more simply on what she enjoys listening to. "the wombats" are a great representation of her current taste in music. after throwing out a wide collection of genres, artists, and types of music - i asked riley is she could pinpoint a specific theme throughout her taste in music. her response touched on possibly the most human aspect of music: its ability to story-tell. riley finds connection within specific lyrics that craft an artist's experience. within the narrative style of taylor swift and the qwirky lyrical interviewing in the Juno soundtrack, riley outlines her connection to music through listening to a collection of unique lyrics conveying stories. i appreciate riley's emphasis on songs with concrete details because it brings to light the poetry within lyrics. often times, music is driven by market audiences, rather than an artist's meaningful experiences. therefore making this view of lyrics, as a means for reflecting the realities of life, all the more refreshing. in a time when music is so heavily intertwined with the high speed consumption of the entertainment world, real world lyrics are so powerful. riley's favorite lyric reflects the great impact of lyrics who are crafted outside of the constraints of mainstream music, "do it for the living and do it for the dead do it for the monsters under your bed do it for the teenagers and do it for your mom".
tune back in next episode to hear more about college student's highlighting the intricacies of thier music taste!
one of the greatest feats of music is it's ability to capture all of the elements of a specific memory - the melody of our mind. brenna wall tells us about how she experiences her life moments through music. in outlining these life events for us, she illustrates scenes from her life that are deeply connected with a specific song's ability to connect with these memories and emotions. in this highly emotive and moving interview, brenna reveals how music intertwines with her understanding and expression of herself.
in her formative years, the shape of her parent's experience with music heavily molded her understanding of music's place in her life. the golden musical moment, where she realized music's ability to capture the sentiments of a moment was in her family jam sessions. she describes her kid-cousins dancing along to the harmonious gathering of adult family members each weaving thier instrument into the great musical celebration. in this norman rockwell-esc scenario, brenna pairs this scene with the description of the music played. her family's combination of folk-style jam sessions still holds a pivotal place in her taste of music - reflected in her appreciation for bands like fleetwood mac, mumford and sons, dr. dog.
along with these childhood memories, brenna's reflections continue to intertwine particular songs with her own sense of self-discovery. brenna describes her first concert experience, the 1975, as a pivotal moment in her journey of independence. she describes the atmosphere of her experience at the 1975 concert and the emotional elements that are associated with being in a place of people all experiencing the same music. upon reflecting on her memory, it is clear that these artists who were present on her journey to adulthood, bring her back to very specific versions of herself. music's place in memory is solidified in her responses and lays out for the audience these overarching human connections to music.
as much as music is connected to beautiful moments, brenna also reminds us that they can also bring up times of struggle. despite the difficulty of confronting these memories, they have just as important a place in understanding ourselves. within the growing pains of high school, brenna describes a time when she confronted the emotional angst of being a teen with the beauty she found within the lyrics of twenty one pilots, "The world is cruel, but we are beautiful".
with five other siblings, clare hennessey says that she has always experienced music in community. the itunes library became a shared platform to give and take songs, artists, and genres of music. as a result of this sibling musical collaboration, clare was probably the only third grader jamming out to "My chemical romance". the benefit of a shared musical space is not only within the acquisition of diverse music, but it also creates opportunity for experiencing music through the lens of community. clare shares with us some of her fondest musical memories - all the kids excited huddled around the family computer as bicker over who gets to pick the next song. this experience, although may have been annoying in the moment, has opened clare up to the power of community connection through relationships. clare's words capture the basics of music's intentions: allow people's inner-most thoughts and emotions to be in connection with others.
while the music is clare's life is heavily influenced by living in community with others, she also was able to gain a greater sense of individuality in exploring her own musical tastes. after being confronted by her inability to describe her taste in music to a cute boy, clare realized that she wanted independence in her music taste. the band, chastity belt - a group of all women singing songs of empowerment, was just the first step in acquiring her independent taste in music. while she still shares music with her siblings and feels most intimately music's capability while she is in community, the growth of an independent identity is very important to clare's musical experience. and from the hybridization of community and individuality in music, clare's taste in music has expanded immensely; effectively encompassing many aspects of her identity.
in her responses, clare highlights the parallels between her growth as a person and her taste in music growing strength in its independence. clare points out that growth should be viewed as unending, "we are not growing into something, we are growing in general and just adding to ourselves". THis testament to continual growth reflects her ever-changing taste in music. with the influence of communal experiences of music, clare portrays the fill that music provides: an emotional outlet and an opportunity to experience in community with others. on this journey of growth and understanding oneself, music stands side-by-side. in an effort to encapsulate these sentiments, clare's favorite lyric of all time can be applied, "more every year i shine light on edges i try to unfeel". here, clare explains how growth within herself takes shape in recognizing emotions and allowing herself to be vulnerable to them.
i invited my good friend and roommate, jenna griener, into the radio station one saturday morning. after a quick swap of words - our usual back and forth banter - we settled down and began our journey into jenna's musical mosaic. music has always been a part of our relationship and so in my own naivete, i believed that i had a pretty good understanding of what her relationship with music looked like. and that's where i was wrong. jenna's responses solidified this idea that a person's relationship with music is ever changing and expansive. Even though we had discussed music so many times before, she completely surprised me with so many stories about her life and music that i had never heard before.
I opened the interview asking jenna about the first time she remembers music taking a key role in shaping her life. while she could not pinpoint a specific moment, she said that her understanding of music was heavily influenced by her parents. music was an important aspect of her parent's connection as jenna tells us a quaint story about her father habitually playing "Cable Car" for her mother, his rational - "If you knew someone's favorite song, wouldn't you play for it every time that you got". both her mother, an avid church music listener, and father, a guitarist and lover of all things musical, sewed thier musical identity into the creation story of jenna's relationship with music. the emphasis on parent's shaping her understanding of music taste continued on throughout our interview. the way she spoke about the great impact of lyrics on her life was such a strong connection to her parent's philosophy. in the playlist she provided me, each song crafted lyrics about such human issues, which was just another way that showed jenna's intentionality with music. her words remind us of the influence on the shape of music reveals this amazing feat of humans. we have such a heavy influence on each other's perceptions and shaping our minds, which has a physical manifestation in the music taste that we develop.
possibly one of the most important element of music revealed itself in the way she spoke about how music aided in her relationships with people. she paints the memory of people in light of the music that they shared. her family members, her friends, each relationship that she holds as integral to her identity has impacted her musical taste. and in this way, the beautiful stories about jenna's relationships - we are reminded of the interconnectedness and power of the capability of music to bring people together. there is something inside of us that is moved by the ebb and flow of rhythm, which jenna describes as being the most human connection we have, "every human is musical, i mean we have a beating heart". the insight of these words left me completely speechless. with each story about another person shaping her relationship with music, it was so obvious the intentional and impactful way she interacted with the people in her life and her music. a life lesson was in the making, with her responses i was overwhelmed with this human truth that music allows us as humans to understand each other and, as a result, love each other with so much more intention.
along with her relationship with people, music became an integral part in understanding herself. surprise, surprise, the peak of emotional connection and understanding was most needed in high school. jenna laid out the different themes of music she connected to in high school, with nirvana being her baseline. in understanding life events and the continually changing of herself, jenna resonated heavily with kurt kobain's "Montage of heck". she describes his work as a sort of structure for all the chaos that is going on in a teenager's head. connecting her consumption of music with building a relationship with herself.
jenna ended her interview with her current musical theme, which is encompassed by the song "the middle" by jeffrey martin. this song highlights the importance of taking comfort in "the middle". there is a lot of gray area in life and instead of seeing this as humdrum, we can reside in this space because there is nothing to prove, "closing your eyes is not the answer to the riddle, i found it in the middle". Overall, her interview was a wonderful outline of music's ability to connect us to our inner most emotions and thoughts. through this understanding and clarity, we can more build greater relationships with each other.
People’s taste in music has always been of interest to me. I mean, What better way to get to know a person on a deeper level, than to listen to their favorite songs. i believe it to be one of the most effective ways to form a meaningful connection with a person. music generates such strong feelings, thoughts, and emotions that have the amazing power of bringing people together. However, I have noticed covering the topic of taste in music is quite challenging. an individual's relationship with music is so complex, but isn't it amazing we all have the ability to talk about music. or you may disagree with me. This belief may stem from the fact that I am completely and utterly obsessed with music’s transcending power to convey my own personal thoughts and emotions in such a way that is unparalleled by any other experience.
So maybe I am biased in thinking that everyone’s taste in music carries meaning and no one simply “likes a song”. Maybe, I am incredibly overstating music’s power by suggesting that it has the ability to change the way in which we view ourselves and others. However, I cannot help but feel that the complexly intimate relationship between humans and music has an other worldly power. a collection of sound waves conveying the human experience is possibly one of the greatest feats that we have as humans. and so, I am confident in my claim that people’s lives are inseparable from music. in an attempt to test this theory, I decided to interview people about their relationship with music and how music carries significance in understanding themselves, life and their connection with humanity. by pairing human stories influenced by music, the power of music can really take shape.
I set off on this quest by conquering the most daunting task: I needed to find a way to connect all of these complex and lofty ideas with concrete interview questions. these questions would have to effectively map out taste in music, that would still fit into a short, 30 minute interview. so I began with the basics, how often are you interacting with music? what influences your musical taste? are there any specific artists that you usually listen to? Then I started to think about the greater meaning that I, myself, attached to music: Are there any specific songs that you attach to a time in your life, or to a person? Was there a specific moment that you remember music becoming an integral part of your life? How has your relationship with music changed as you have grown? The list amounted to a collective 32 questions. fear not, I have narrowed it down.
The more questions I wrote, the more I realized just how challenging it is to convey to another person what music means to them. However, instead of being bogged down by this burden, I used it to further my thoery of music’s place in understanding life and human connection. Often the parts of ourselves that make us the most human are the most difficult to describe. And yet, somehow, even if the words and definitions that we come up with don’t make sense on paper, we as humans all share a deep understanding of these experiences that make us human. after, it is through experience that we learn the most.
And so I came up with the idea to pair people's stories about music with a playlist they would create. In an attempt to fully encapsulate the importance of experiencing music, rather than just talking about it, I asked my interviewees to collect ten songs that most effectively conveyed thier relationship with music. And in this way where words cannot effectively explain, the human experience we have with music gives us a greater understanding of thier story.
And so, by pairing people’s stories with specific songs I will create a mosaic of stories and music in an attempt to illuminate the powers of music in our lives. through story-telling and experiencing music, i hope that i can highlight the interconnectedness of man with music, and how this relationship connects us to the greater human experience. stay tuned to hear some great stories and musical experiences in my first interview.
stories told by musical enthusiasts !
The Musical Mosaic offers a weekly podcast, playlist and publication based on an interview with Andrea Simms and fellow musical enthusiasts. Here is a place where mere mortals can make sense of this world by discussing our relationship with music.