The Music of the Spheres

It is Friday and Christopher and I are traveling up I-45 to Jones Hall for the Houston Symphony.  Although it is 6:30, it doesn’t feel like evening, and although it is May, it doesn’t feel like Houston.  It isn’t hot, it isn’t humid. The regulations of daylight savings time make evening feel like a lingering afternoon, and the chaos of cooler spring weather in Texas makes May feel like March.  We are going to hear Stravinsky and Mozart, but we listen to pop music on the way, until Christopher whips out the iPad and starts playing all of the James Bond themes that he has bought off the internet.  It is great music if you are planning on dressing up and having an adventure. Continue reading

Music in the Digital Age; or Why My Walkman Was Better than Your iPod!

45-record-adapterMy little son was working on some Lego creation the other day, singing softly a song that sounded vaguely familiar.  I asked him what he was singing and he said he didn’t know, but he sang a little louder so I could hear the words.  It was the oddest thing to hear that song coming from his seven-year-old mouth.  It wasn’t an inappropriate song.  It was just one that I would have never thought to hear him sing.  Somehow from the background of the movie Cars 2, my son had picked out the melody and lyrics to “You Might Think I’m Crazy” from the Cars, circa 1984.  When I started singing along with him, his face looked even more incredulous than mine.

He asked how I knew the song and I told him it was a song from my youth.  We were able to find the song on iTunes and downloaded it for fun.  I was tempted to buy the entire “Cars Greatest Hits” album, but figured I had better things to spend my time and money on.  I’ve never been a music collector, even back in the days when collecting music actually meant collecting something tangible. I still have a small box of 45s in the closet somewhere.   Continue reading

I’m With the Band

Last Saturday I went with some friends to see Sounds Under Radio, an Austin-based band whose songs have been featured in Spiderman 3, The Vampire Diaries, and even commercials for American Idol.

But the most important thing to me about this band is that the artist who plays lead guitar for them is Doug Wilson. He also happens to be my brother.

If you went into Rudyards, the Houston venue where they were playing, you would think that it was the most casual thing in the world for this band to be playing between a singer-songwriter named Joseph King from Brooklyn, and a band named Deep Ella, which has a lot of band members, including one with a jet black electric violin.  But let me tell you:  a lot of work has gone into Sounds Under Radio, a band that has been together for nine years, which for bands is a remarkably long time. Continue reading

Music, Sameness and Difference

One of my December rituals since the advent of internet radio is to listen to the top songs of the year. Each year I am disappointed more than the last. Surely, I think, these songs are simply terrible. They all sound the same! They’re all uniformly loud and obnoxious! Get off my lawn! My colleague teased me that it was simply a sign of growing older: all non-young people are appalled by music young people prefer.

But now I have data.

Continue reading