Music is magical. There is something about it that can transport me anywhere. I takes just a moment for me to get lost in the past, present, or future. If the soul exists, music is the purest form of communication between different souls. Listening to music (sadly, I have yet to find any musical talent within myself) has always been important to me throughout my life, though the genres that I listened to have varied widely.
Growing up I was only allowed to listen to Christian and Country music. I guess this was to prevent me from being dirtied by the secular world. In a way this makes sense, my home was “god and country”, Christian music reinforced the religious foundation and Country is very American nationalism. I didn’t mind country but I was more in tune with rock during my teenage years. My cassette tapes were mostly Audio Adrenaline, Newsboys, Petra, and dc Talk. I proudly wore their t-shirts to high school which, in retrospect, probably didn’t help my decidedly unpopular and nerdy persona.
Aside from occasionally listening to the radio (KNRK Portland – The New Rock Alternative!) I didn’t have a lot of secular variety in my music until I discovered MxPx. MxPx is a punk band that was (is?) also Christian. Their music had some religious aspects but they weren’t in your face about it. God may be mentioned but the focus was on being a teenager and surviving the world. The lyrics spoke to me at a time in my life when I was trying to figure things out as a Christian teen. By listing their influences on the back of their CD cases MxPx also introduced me to non-Christian punk bands like NOFX, The Ramones, and Misfits. I started to realize you can be influenced by artists who have different political and religious views than you. At this point I was no longer young enough for my parents to control my music.
When I joined the Army I had shifted pretty strongly into punk, pop-punk, and emo. Again, I think this is a reflection of the lyrics. The words always came first to me, regardless of musical genre. Bands like Fallout Boy, Tsunami Bomb, Blink-182, Green Day, and The Ataris filled my harddrive (thanks Napster!). While I was still pretty conservative at the time these musical influences were decidedly not. Around this time there was a lot of anti-war sentiment within music, particularly when Bush sent troops into Iraq. My only interaction with non-Conservative thought at that time was within music. It was a strange time, I would be listening to American Idiot by Green Day while reading a book by Sean Hannity.
Punk was my primary influence for most of college until I was introduced to EDM. EDM was more than just music, it was a community. Being at a rave with tens of thousands of other people dancing and enjoying life was a surreal experience. It was pure, beautiful anarchy. I particularly love artists like Krewella who mix lyrics I can relate to with music I can dance to (Dance, much like playing an instrument, is an art that is traditionally lost on me). I have come to believe that EDM is the newest example of music reflecting the newest generation of a culture. It is often hated by “old” people who see it as noise instead of music. There is always a view that music “used to be good”, but really it is all good for the people involved in it. Music is how youth show their independence and create something unique. It adapts new technology, criticizes old institutions, and is an outlet for frustrations and love. It is how we connect and create a new world.
At this point in my life I love EDM and Kesha and music that inspires revolution (Rise Against, Flobots, et al). I love female voices and lyrics I can relate to. I love being in the crowd, feeling the sweat and tears of a thousand friends, and making eye contact with strangers that express pure love. I love when music allows my soul to talk to another soul. I’m sure my musical tastes will continue to change and evolve with the times (at least I hope so), and I’m excited to see what new generations create.