Do you believe in rock and roll?
I believe that, apart from silence, music is the only thing that can express the inexpressible. When I feel depressed, Elliott Smith is there to be sad with me. I get political direction from Eminem and Toby Keith. My relationship schooling comes from Professor Elton John. And the Dropkick Murphys are always in my back pocket when I need a drink at the bar. There is music for every emotion, question, situation and dilemma I face in my life. But it wasn’t always this way.
I’ll be honest, when I came to college, my knowledge of music was limited to nearly every Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Billy Joel song ever written; that was it. Granted, this is a great start for a beginner in music 101, but I’m ashamed to admit I couldn’t tell the difference between Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, or Queen and David Bowie. I was a disgrace, and I knew it. So my number one goal freshmen year was not to get a 3.5 GPA, or pledge a frat, but to discover music. I quickly set out to find the two most knowledgeable music lovers on my floor. Luckily they were roommates, and I threw myself to the mercy of their teachings. After a few jabs at the expense of my pitiful musical ignorance, they began to share their expertise. We started with the basics. One day would feature the Sex Pistols, the next would be The Stones, maybe even Dylan.
As I discovered these rulers of the airwaves, I began to discover myself. The songs spoke to me in ways that no other media ever could. Why did I like the songs I liked? Why did I hate the ones I hated? After two years of building a life soundtrack for myself, I became confident enough to venture out and discover music on my own. I also began sharing my newfound knowledge of musical taste with other people. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole sang his way into my would-be girlfriend’s heart. Jack Johnson brought my sister from a hundred miles away closer to me. And John Lennon made me imagine the possibilities for this world.
It is my belief that there is only one way to define my life, and my personality, namely, the music I listen to. It is a tool, which I use to find a balance for emotions I can’t describe; an answer for questions I find impossible; and a direction for situations I hope to resolve. Don McLean posed us the question, “Do you believe in rock and roll? Can music save your mortal soul?” I believe it can…if you listen.
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