The incredible power of music

Just now I was sitting and listening to an old Steely Dan song that I either don’t remember or vaguely remember. The song, “Dallas,” was released in 1972 and has more of a country-rock ballad sound to it than the jazz-rock for which the band is known.

Hearing the song reminds me of my friends over the years and how most of those friends had varying interests in music even though the level in interest usually was somewhere between high and very high.

Some of my best friends from high school days played in a band and I would help them in any way I could short of singing or playing and instrument. My friends throughout have shared a love for music while not always sharing fondness for the same musicians.

A case in point was Waldo, my best friend and one dating back to high school all the way up until his untimely death from cancer in 1998.

People have their preferences as to what they like in their songs. Maybe some love the lyrics. Others like the music and or the lyrics or just the tune itself. Still others may even be taken with just a specific portion of a tune or a lyric. A lack of affinity with a particular group may come from some social context or even a perception of that context.

The latter tended to drive Waldo’s lack of appreciation for Steely Dan. He tended to think their music was “too cool,” in his terms, meaning he felt some people thought it was hip to like the jazzy sounds of the group.

To give full disclosure, Waldo (known as “Mr. Miller” at the high school where he taught government and economics,) did confess to liking the Steely Dan song: “Don’t Take Me Alive.”

 “Got a case of dynamite / I could hold out here all night / Yes, I crossed my old man back in Oregon / Don’t take me alive … “

Those lyrics exemplified the same stubbornness and general dislike of authority with which my friend identified. I am pretty certain that Waldo turned me on to such bands as Black Sabbath, that tended toward espousing a heavy dose of antisocial behavior.

Other discussions with other friends in later — as from the Navy and the 1970s on — spurred new interests which, like Johnny Appleseed, I have sometimes felt obliged to pass along to other friends. Yes, I know, a virtual wheel.

This might explain why I will spend an hour or more reading about someone like Randy Meisner — best known for a short time in the band Poco and the one who played bass and sang high harmony with The Eagles until after “Hotel California” was released. I mean, who don’t like The Eagles … ?