Laying a musical foundation

I was raised on the Doobie Brothers and CSNY, Gershwin and Handel. While I may not have understood or appreciated such music growing up, it stuck with me. Perhaps overt or perhaps unbeknownst to them, my parents laid a good musical foundation for me. They gave me a head start in my musical understandings and tastes from exposing me to good music. My high school musical tastes notwithstanding, I attribute much of my love for music throughout my life to my parents. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

I’ve been thinking about this more recently now that Mikayla is old enough to recognize that there is music playing, and dance to it. This is my attempt at a representative list of albums across genres that I hope to play for her many times over the next 18 years, in order to unashamedly influence her musical appreciation – if not her actual musical tastes. I know I have omitted some great albums, and by no means is this all that Mikayla will hear from our speakers. But it’s a discussion starter at the least. A whole other related post could be what music I want Mikayla to associate with me, much like how I associate America with my Mom or Beethoven with my Dad. In alphabetical order…

1. The Allman Brothers – The Fillmore Concerts. One of the most brilliant live recordings of all time, by one of the greatest classic rock-era bands (and arguably my favorite). The epic 56-minute Whipping Post –> Mountain Jam gives me goosebumps every time. Pink Floyd was a close runner up in the classic rock category, but their live Pulse pales in comparison.

2. Bach’s Mass in B Minor.  Though this magnum opus stands or falls on its own, it contains two of the most sublime pieces of music in history: “Cum Sancto Spiritu” and “Et Resurrexit.”

3. The Decemberists – The King is Dead. Not my favorite Decemberists album (Picaresque takes that title), but this is a more accessible album (and still very good). It also contains Mikayla’s favorite song to dance to: “Calamity Song,” as well as several guest appearances by another artist on this list, Gillian Welch.

4. Derek Webb – She Must and Shall Go Free. It was hard for us to choose between Webb, Sandra McCracken, Matthew Perryman Jones, or one of the Indelible Grace albums, but this has three of our all-time favorite songs on it: the title track, Lover, and The Church.

5. Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – Ella & Louis. The sheer amount of musical talent on this album is easy to overlook thanks to the sheer delight of listening to these two paragons of jazz.

6. Gillian Welch – Revival. I really hope Mikayla loves Welch’s music more than I do. Listening to her sounds you’ve known her all your life.

7. Grateful Dead – American Beauty. I could easily have put Workingman’s Dead or Europe ’72 here instead, but this is the closest to my heart, and has received the most plays over the years.

8. Handel’s Messiah. Not much needs to be said for this. Our version of choice is Christopher Hogwood’s masterful recording, introduced to me by my brilliant college roommate.

9. Leo Kottke – 6 & 12 String Guitar. Incredible musicianship on this 1969 gem, and so much fun to listen to. I always find myself wanting more after the ~35 minutes are over. One of the preeminent guitar virtuosos of our age, whose enormous influence is difficult to measure.

10. Railroad Earth – Elko – Another great live recording by another favorite band. Americana, bluegrass, improv, rock. Great songwriting, tight musicianship, and deep passion are all on display here.

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2 thoughts on “Laying a musical foundation

  1. That's awesome. Great choices. Never understood the Grateful Dead and the whole dead head thing though. What about baby Mozart? Don't you want Mikayla to be smart?

  2. No baby Mozart here. I've never really gotten into Mozart. He's too…symmetrical and mathematical for me. Maybe that explains my love of the Dead and long jam sessions a la Allman Brothers and RRE.

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