Had a conversation at a show the other night where the opening act was underwhelming. The conversation went something sort of like this.
Me: (jokingly) Either I’m getting old or I just don’t know what good music is anymore.
Friend: (laughing) Nah man, your ears as good as it ever was. We all evolve as listeners and by now we definitely know good from bad.
His sentiment is true. But, we are the outliers. Taste is subjective. Appeal is massive. We are the quality over quantity types. The ones who’d like something to hit the cineplexs or streaming services that aren’t remakes or derived from comic books. We enjoy mom and pop places over chains. We shop local. We go to HEB instead of Walmart. And we’ll take Randall King and Parker McCollum over whatever trife the machine is putting in front of us.
But, how did we get like that?
We didn’t just magically and automatically realize that what the mainstream feeds you is bad. We learned to be healthy listeners through trial and error and discerning what felt good. My gateway was Robert Earl Keen through the lens of my older sister. Then, I met some folks that told me about a guy named Pat Green. Then, divine intervention set my college path to a town called San Marcos at the turn of the century alongside some guy named Randy Rogers. When I went looking for a job, I met a guy that was renovating a bar named Oasis to a place called River Road Icehouse. Some guys named Doug Moreland, Dub Miller and Bleu Edmondson were living in RVs behind the bar and hosted the likes of Cody Canada and Jason Boland for wild, epic picking parties that remain the stuff of legend. A radio station was my soundtrack to that time in my life…Mattson Rainer and 92.1 KNBT further refined my palette. I became part of an online community called Galleywinter that brought me a second family full of folks that dug the same things I did.
I could go on and on all the way up to present day. But, the point remains that life isn’t an accident. Things happen for a reason and in their own time. We all ended up digging this music for one reason or another and that’s our purpose…or reason. Somewhere along the way we developed a taste for something greater.
Older siblings, buddies, something more divine. Perhaps they all work together in some sort of sweet coalescence of fate that drives us to better musical tastes. As Walt Wilkins sang, I chose this road and I’d do it again. My path led me here, but my journey isn’t over. Discovering new music isn’t something that goes away. It’s a muscle that must be exercised. It’s one of my greatest joys and biggest hobbies. I don’t have as much time to intently listen as I once did, but that makes my listening more precious. I carve out time and focus. I’m more intentional with my listening. It’s not just background noise for me. It’s the same approach one uses with podcasts or talk radio. You choose exactly what you want. Life is on demand these days. All the information that has been gathered from the dawn of time is at your fingertips and so are a dozen wings from WingStop (shoutout GrubHub). The same with any kind of media content you could desire. Your favorite song from 3rd grade, done. That after school special with Scott Baio jumping off a roof from PCP, done. Or that new record from Kolby Cooper, done. As the great philosopher Joe Dirt once learned, home is where you make it. Life is what you make it as well. Same for music. Music is what you make it.
This holiday season. This upcoming year, I challenge you to make it intentional. Make it meaningful. Seek out the music that moves your needle and don’t stop. Sometimes that needle ride might last 3 minutes until the song is over. Other times, it will last for over two decades as you chase those musical dragons. Cheers y’all. Find your intent and lean into it.
-Speaking of GrubHub…they still owe me a pizza from our visit to Dallas for Leon Bridges. I’m waiting.
-It’s almost Steamboat and Key West time. Are you ready?
-This new layout has been a longtime coming and long overdue. Click around, play around. Check out the Spotify playlists, jam them.
-The Cowboys make me sad, but I can’t quit them.
-River Jam details will be unleashed soon.
-This month’s recommended album: Wade Bowen – Twelve Twenty Five. WB turning Bing Crosby. The perfect soundtrack to your holiday season. Our scene has been overdue for someone to do this and do it right…Wade did.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain