Cipher Ring

November 12, 2008

Rolling Stone has an article today about the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.  I only got to 88 before the web page went belly up, but it was a good read.  My favorites were the tributes written by other musicians.  I’ve always wondered what it would be like to listen to music as a musician.  I took voice lessons, but it’s not the same.  They understand music better, and they have a way of talking about it that’s a lot more moving than anything I could come up with.  They get it, for lack of a better word.

Jackson Browne’s piece about John Lennon was especially good.  He went through the details and at the same time he saw through the songs.  He could tell what was behind them, just from listening to Lennon sing.  Reading it, I wanted to listen to “Girl” again, carefully, to see if I could sense what he did.

It’s easy to get bogged down in music and decide that a certain song is just so true, a total metaphor for life.  But it’s also easy to use it as background noise.  That’s why it’s so interesting to read about songs from the perspective of people who live, eat, and breath them.  Their hypersensitivity is fascinating.  It’s like having a spaceship taken apart and shown to you.  When they put it all back together it’s that much cooler because you’ve seen the hidden gadgets do their work.

It’s what keeps me writing about music.  I want to see if I can discover through words what the artists can tell when they listen.  I am, after all, a total geek.  To hell with international politics.  I want to make a career out of this.



  1. Listening to music as a musician is just the same as listening to music. In my opinion. It’s music. Having sex as a gynecologist doesn’t means that you experience it in an other way just because you know things. :o)
    But to write about music is hard. Just like to write about poetry. Who knows which word, comma or note has an important meaning? I don’t. I admire if someone can write about others creations. Being a critic must be hard. Writing music is easy. You just open your veins and let it flow. To write you have to think first.
    Seemingly you do. I like your writings.

  2. Thank you. I try to tread the line between thinking and over-analyzing. I’m just in awe of the way melodies can float through people’s heads like words do through mine.

    Love the line about the gynecologist :).

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