March 19, 2012

In Describing Our Musical Origins . . .

Dan Murray

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Tags: bands genres music musician origins singer


My life is full of musical epiphanies. With music, it never stops. Let’s follow this river upstream a few decades…

It is no secreI have developed a voracious appetite for contrasting styles of music. When I was four or five years old, I received a cassette tape of SPIKE JONES from our friend. I never fully recovered from that.¬† I think we all have had that “a-ha” moment at some time in some area (no pun intended?). That was when I learned that humor can and should exist in music. I also learned that there were to be silly sound effects added to old popular songs. There were to be short guys in wacky suits participating in slapstick humor. There was also to be great, golden singing and masterful instrument playing.

In upper elementary school, I was often to be found listening to instrumental versions of JAMES BOND MOVIE THEMES over and over on a small portable cassette player. Sometimes, if I pushed the pause button just right, it would play three times as fast and make it even more interesting to listen to. I remember someone at church scolding me for listening to “that kind of music”. I tried to explain to him that, yes, it did sound sinfully insane because of the halfway-pushed-pause-button trick. No, I never really repented of that.

The summer before my sixth grade year, I could be found in our garage listening to COUNTRY music (country western – some of the classics) every day. That only lasted a few months, but it was intense.

In junior high school, I was trying to get serious about learning the alto saxophone. Then I discovered KENNY G. He was and is the king of smooth. I didn’t understand the differences between jazz, smooth jazz, and adult contemporary easy listening, but, I was just a kid.

Probably the summer after my freshman year in college, I discovered the wall of sound that was OASIS – specifically, their presumptuous debut album, Definitely Maybe. I could not deny that I was transfixed by their attitude as well as their sound.

If I discovered OASIS and their ups and downs, it was only a matter of time before I discovered their one time “rivals”, BLUR. I did find myself amazed by their contrasting eccentric arranging – especially the unique guitar approach by Graham Coxon, their guitarist (obviously). The first BLUR album I ever heard in its entirety was Parklife. To me, it was wholly British. I would follow BLUR down more musical detours than with OASIS.

What’s been my most recent musical obsession, you ask? As of a few months ago, the album California by the weird, eclectic band MR. BUNGLE. I listened to it at least once or twice a day in its entirety for several weeks. See, I’ve come full circle. Mr. Bungle uses a cornucopia of musical landscapes and also¬†sound effects – much like Spike Jones.