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About a year ago, I started listening to music. Like, with a sense of love, as more than just background noise for car trips. I just got into classic rock through some Tumblr posts, mostly songs I’d heard before from my mom. I started putting on The Who or Led Zeppelin when I felt like crap, instead of just stewing in my own feelings. It’s given me a lot of optimism like I exist meaningfully.
Last summer, I took a plane from Oakland to Pennsylvania for a summer camp. I’d saved a few hours of music on my phone, mostly stuff I hadn’t heard before. That was the first time I heard Who’s Next, the Who’s 1971 album, which is, in my opinion, one of the shining jewels of their career. I had no idea what I supposed to think, or what had been intended by the guys who made it. I just liked it, all of it. It was thoughtful, catchy, even humorous at times. The bass was loud and intricate, the rhythm guitar work just perfect, the singing passionate to the point of aggressive, and the drums just a spectacular, beautiful clatter. It was the first time I’d been impacted by music so deeply, it felt like a personal letter rather than an ambient distraction. I started the album as the plane took off, and both my feeling of uncertainty about the trip and my apprehensive unfamiliarity for the music faded off with time. It was a remastered version, deluxe re-issue whatever, so it had a couple bonus tracks. Live material. I loved that stuff, maybe more than the cleaner, less urgent versions of those songs on the albums. There was so much unfiltered volume in those recordings.
Many studies have found close ties between listening to or playing music and increased academic aptitude, particularly among low-income youth. It’s motivated me better than most of my teachers and given me an amazing sense of what art can be and do.
Music is inspirational, powerful and sometimes the only thing that can really make us think about new concepts in a meaningful way.