Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NEWS: My new life goal...

I picked up Tom Moon's 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die before I caught a plane home from LA about two weeks ago. I've been doing a lot of flying lately, and I wanted to grab something fun and easy to read, and this piqued my interest.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of "All-time Best" musical lists in general. I usually find them too esoteric, never straying too far from the snide music-critic's usual ammunition. But I like Tom Moon as a critic, and even more so as a music-appreciator, and after I read his fairly passionate intro to this little book I decided to give it a shot.

In the intro, Tom explains that he's not trying to assemble a list of the greatest albums of all time so much as he's trying to make a list of 1,000 ways to introduce you to new music. He arranged the book alphabetically to force the reader to break out of their usual musical comfort zone, citing that "there's great treasure waiting on the other side of wherever you draw your territorial lines". Subsequently, De La Soul comes just before Claude Debussy, who in turn precedes the Decemberists, etc. etc. - which makes for a pretty refreshing overview of music in general.

He does a remarkable job of including just about every genre here - from rock & roll to folk, classical to jazz, metal to hip-hop, blues to indie rock, 50's bee-bop to african traditional. He includes music from all around the world, reaching back through time about as far as we have recorded. He does certainly lean heavily on western music from the 1960's forward (as these lists often do), but all in all this is a very even-handed book. He includes tons of great suggestions on things I'm well acquainted with (there are 6 albums by the Beatles and 4 by Bob Dylan), and on things I don't have the faintest clue about (Italian opera and Brazilian folk music, for example).

Both jazz and classical music make a strong showing, which is a big reason I grabbed this book in the first place - both of those genres can be pretty daunting for the uninitiated to tackle, and I've been wanting some sort of reputable guide for awhile. Since picking up the book I've been having a blast diving into some Haydn, Beethoven, Thelonius Monk and John Coltrane. It's just like the book's sub-title reads: The more you love music, the more music you love.

So here's my goal: to listen to every record in this book. I've already heard a good slice of them, and in the last two weeks I've knocked off more than a few. I'm not particularly looking forward to some (i.e. Slayer), but I've already enjoyed some unlikely treats (for example, Sarah McGlaughlin's Surfacing is perfect wind-down music, and Guns N Roses are great for navigating heavy traffic). So yeah, wish me luck.

You can check out the book's official website and blog ---> HERE.

Cat Stevens - On the Road to Find Out
from the album Tea for the Tillerman (Amazon/iTunes)

Andrew W.K. - I Love Music
from the album The Wolf (Amazon/iTunes)


funnysoprano said...

Tigre said...

Nothing like waking up & having some death metal w/ your cheerios. Slayer rules. Good luck making it through the 1000.