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Left Coast / Right Coast: Music to soothe the savage beast

As a retired musician (it was always a part time gig), I can’t help but continue to listen to music of my generation. And I’m not talking about Lawrence Welk – for those sardonic readers who peg my age at somewhere north of 90. No, I was brought up on rock and roll.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Scott Brown.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

As a retired musician (it was always a part time gig), I can’t help but continue to listen to music of my generation. And I’m not talking about Lawrence Welk – for those sardonic readers who peg my age at somewhere north of 90.

No, I was brought up on rock and roll. My father was a professional musician and for his entire life of my adulthood, he and I would regularly argue about whether rock and roll was actually “real music.”

I recall, somewhat sadly, that towards the end of his life he and I one day sat down and listened to some Beatles music. I am so happy that we got to share listening to what I consider well written music, such as "Let it Be" and "Yesterday." I am forever grateful that we connected and agreed on this aspect of rock and roll. The peace that this music brought between us stays with me until this day.

Paul says that "Let it Be" came to him in a dream – about his mother (named Mary) talking to him.

What I still find unbelievable is that none of the Beatles could read music!

In my opinion, the best music is often the simplest. For example, the gospel song "I don’t know how to love him" from the Musical Operetta "Jesus Christ Superstar" has a beautifully haunting but simple melody.

Another one of my favorite but remarkably simple songs is "Amazing Grace." The words which go along with a beautiful but simple melody are just terrific. However, this is one song that calls out for being done on bagpipes. Either version of this song always brings tears to my eyes.

Now so far I’ve only been writing about what are “loosely” called rock and roll. (I’ll admit that the two gospel songs are not really rock and roll – but they come from the same era).

Let us look at some of the more classical music.

There is a great TV show called "America’s Got Talent." They seem to discover the most amazing young singers. One of them is a young girl ventriloquist who has one of her puppets sing Opera.

Now Opera is not for everyone. However, I’ve never seen any serious Opera fans not being reduced to tears at some of the beautiful passages from many Operas.

Here’s that outstanding young girl, Darcy Lynn performing a passage from "O Mio Babbino Caro." As amazing as this performance is from a thirteen year old, listen to this from an even younger ten year old Opera singer performing "Nessun Dorma."

As I wrote above, Opera is not for everyone. However, one cannot unhook one’s emotions from the soothing effect that really great music has on just about everyone.

Now let us return to classic rock and roll. There have been literally hundreds of great rock and roll groups since this genre was invented in the middle of the 20th century. I refer back to the simply great early performers such as Chuck Berry – "Johnny be Goode." You simply cannot stand still listening to this early master at rock and roll. This video does not have Berry’s classic “duck walk” which is an important part of this song.

Then we have the Beach Boys with "Fun Fun Fun." Their signature song. Listen carefully for the intricate four part harmony as they sing the chorus. Brian Wilson, the genius behind most of the Beach Boys compositions, not only had a great falsetto voice, but he had a genius ear for composition. Just about any of their songs have magnificent harmonies.

Last we have the definitive rock and roll song, The Kingsmen – "Louis Louis." As most of the critics said about the song and the group, “They can’t sing, they can’t play and they can’t write music – the entire song has just three cords – but I love it and just can’t stop listening.”

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