Saturday, February 10, 2018

My Childhood Soundtrack Just Skipped

I was born in 1961 and didn't really pay attention to music until I was around 13 or 14. I guess, then, my memories should reflect against the music my parents played. Through mom and dad, I was exposed to all things Motown, jazz, blues, and some country. Through my friends, it was the Jackson 5 and the Sylvers. TV shows gave me music from the Archies, the Monkees, and whatever was on shows like the Brady Bunch.

I used to joke that my in my soul I was a little bit of a hippie. That's because I somehow my memories connect me to songs like "Downtown", "Mr. Tamborine Man", "Monday, Monday", "San Fransisco (Wear Flowers in Your Hair)", and "For What It's Worth". Now, because of the way my brain works, I don't ever think of the song titles; I just get a whiff of the melody and can run with it.

Recently, I chose an Audible selection that blew my mind and some of the cobwebs off my youth. It's made me rethink the whole thing about that period of music. Those hippie years weren't as innocent and beautiful as my soul would like to think. Matter of fact, that whole scene just got real dark for me.

This book by the late DaveMcGowen is something else. Among other things, here is some of what the book talks about:

  • Most of the singers/groups that came out in the 60s had parents that were military. And not just your military as in the run-of-the-mill soldier but as in high-security cleared folk. "Lizard King" Jim Morrison's dad was a Navy commander during the Gulf of Tonkin mess, er, I mean incident. John Phillips (think Mamas and Papas - you know, "Monday Monday" and "California Dreaming") dad was a Marine Corps captain; David Crosby (of both Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Byrds with songs like "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "Teach Your Children" which I find funny) was son of a WWII military intelligence officer); and even Frank Zappa whose dad was a freaking chemical warfare specialist). 
  • Suicide was like a plague among many of the cultural icons that came out of the Canyon - claiming either the icon or a close family member. 
  • A lot of these people not only hung out with Charles Manson but befriended him, put him up in their homes, and even used some of his music on their albums.
  • Many of the Laurel Canyon talent pool not only were not what we'd think of as "hippies" but most had very blue bloodlines. Seriously tied-to-historic-American-royalty blue.
  • A lot of the artists started with zero talent - as in not able to even play their instrument - but they were signed to labels immediately.
  • Check out this page if you want to read more about some of this.
I know that cultural celebrity is all about manufactured images, but this goes beyond that and into social manipulation and I feel so duped. Actually, a few years ago, I started looking at the contemporary music scene and realized this same thing. I guess I just thought the music of my youth was more "pure" and innocent. Nope. 

More seriously, I have been hearing more and more about how music can be used to manipulate the brain. Because I know that not everyone reading this post has a biblical worldview, I will list some sources that might appeal to the secular mind:
  1. The first article from Scientific American on how music can change the way we think.
  2. The second article from SA (a guest post) that goes a little further on the same subject.
Now, for those who don't mind being called a religious nut or conspiracy theorist, check these out this article by someone who studies music (and happens to be  Christian). 

Also, I wanted to share a video that I found interesting. The effect of sound waves on rice just blew my mind. 

I've been doing some Bible study lately that focuses on Lucifer and what he is and is not capable of. One of the things I always kind of sort of knew (from spending so much time in church as a child) is that Lucifer was involved with music in Heaven. How funny that I can see now how music can be used to manipulate us. As one minister has pointed out (and I am paraphrasing from my weak memory):
"Music is worship. In church, we sing praises and raise our hands to God. Ever notice how in concerts fans are encouraged to say the name of the performer or to raise their hands? Who are they worshipping - the performer? The god the performer worships?"

This same minister also pointed out the power of music by reminding us of David using the harp to soothe Saul.

Sometimes, I regret learning stuff because then I can no longer hide behind ignorance. Now that I am more aware of how music can be used to manipulate and control us, I am careful of what I let into my heart and mind through sounds.

On the last note (see what I did there?), I would suggest that when you listen to music make sure you pay attention to the lyrics. I never used to and now I am always surprised at what I hear. Go look at the lyrics for Beatle George Harrison's song "My Sweet Lord" (which I always thought was a Christian song). Then look at what he says about the song:

"My idea in "My Sweet Lord," because it sounded like a "pop song," was to sneak up on them a bit. The point was to have the people not offended by "Hallelujah," and by the time it gets to "Hare Krishna," they're already hooked, and their foot's tapping, and they're already singing along "Hallelujah," to kind of lull them into a sense of false security. And then suddenly it turns into "Hare Krishna," and they will all be singing that before they know what's happened, and they will think, "Hey, I thought I wasn't supposed to like Hare Krishna!" Interview with Mukunda Goswami (4 September 1982)

His sneakiness sure worked because I didn't even notice the Hare Krishna part for years. Harrison wanted nothing to do with the God I worship (because he saw no "proof" of Him) and he made that clear. That's okay because I want nothing to do with Harrison's god. I do hope that he had a chance to find God before he passed from this life into eternity with whatever choice he made.

So, yeah. There's my post about how a book made me take yet another look at the music I grew up on.


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