Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Currently, as I write this blog, a song by Disturbed is playing. You may not know who Disturbed is, but you really can’t sing along with their stuff. They’re very hard core head banging music (quite different from Paul Simon who just came on and the difference may cause my head to explode). So no, you don’t sing Disturbed songs. You scream them. At the top of your lungs. Until your throat melts. In great pain. Excuse me, I need to go get a lozenge now.
Music is such a large part of my world, and I know that I’m not alone. I listen to such a wide array of styles of music like classical, jazz, blues, bluegrass and more. But usually, I listen to some form of rock. I lean to classical rock, or modern rock with a classic rock sound, although I do enjoy my head banging screaming rock as well. I tend to prefer music that I can sing along with, though. Classical music is great for relaxing or just mellowing out, but you can’t sing along if there are no words (my friend would disagree as he likes to hum or “tum te tum” along). To me, the lyrics are the modern version of poetry, and I enjoy finding meaning and being touched by the words of the poets. There are some songs that always makes me cry.
And that is probably what I enjoy most about music. It brings emotions to the surface and helps me to deal with them. When I’m angry, Disturbed is a great way to scream out my anxiety and teenage angst that I should have outgrown forty years ago but didn’t. When I feel like I need to cry, songs like Telegraph Road from Dire Straits, or listening to songs from my favorite indy band that nobody has ever heard of, Calamine (not the new band from Europe which you’ve also never heard of) brings forth the tears that are so elusive and so cleansing when they arrive.
Yesterday (as of the writing of this), I found myself seeking out musicals. Not the musicals that people think of, though. I’m not talking about Sound of Music, or Fiddler on the Roof, but fun musicals. Yesterday is a delightful film based on the idea that some kind of event thrust a young unsuccessful musician into a world where he, and he alone, remembers the Beatles and their works. You can laugh at this if you want (and I deserve it, honestly), but Josie and the Pussycats is just a fun musical romp with songs that are not so terribly bad, not unlike Cry Baby with Johnny Depp, both of which I own. They’re stupid little weak story line movies with not terrible but not bad songs that together seem to work to make a fun piece of entertainment. And, yes, I’ll sing along.
And, of course, there are all four Beatle movies. Starting out with A Hard Day’s Night which is a re-enactment of their trip to America, it was just a funny movie with awesome music. Well, it’s the Beatles. Followed by the movie Help! which at least attempted a story line. Okay, the story line failed, but it was a tongue-in-cheek movie, the success of which inspired the fist made-for-TV band “The Monkeys”. The ever experimentalist Beatles next movie, Magical Mystery Tour, was an enormous flop and seemed to take the wind out of the sales of the quartet for theater. Unfortunately, they were contractually obligated to the studios for two more movies, giving rise to the animated Yellow Submarine, in which the Beatles only made a cameo appearance at the very end (even the voices were done by voice actors imitating the Fab Four). The last movie, which I do not own actually, was a documentary where they had hired a camera crew to follow them around for a while so people could see what a day in the life of a Beatle looked like. Frankly, I’ve always been more about the music than the history.
Moving to a new room when I was in graduate school, I was surrounded by boxes and feeling so depressed that I couldn’t even begin to unpack. I called a friend who came over and didn’t help me to unpack or even open any boxes at all. But he did one thing. He walked over, turned on my radio, and left. And that was all it took. As classic rock seeped out into the room, giving me a feeling of the comfort of familiarity, I could finish the rest on my own. Music is that powerful.