Music is unlike any other art form we have in this world.
With movies, television and live, on-stage theatrical performances, it's all just right there and laid out perfectly as to exactly how we're supposed to take things in and how we're supposed to interpret them. There's a script, there are characters, and there's a story. It's all formulated to send out a specific message or theme that viewers will hopefully pick up.
Music isn't like that.
Music just has a raw, uncanny ability to strike you in the right nerve in the right part of your body at just the right time of the day or night. Sometimes when that happens, you might equate a certain song with the emotion you're feeling right then and there. Some time might go by, but the next time you hear that song, you'll be instantly transported to that very same day or night and that very same location where you were when you last heard the song. You'll remember the feelings you were having, and you'll even remember the mood you were in as a result.
Music just has that ability. Certain musicians, singers, and bands will do that to you and, as a result, their music will stay with you forever and it'll just feel timeless. I'm 36 years old, but when I hear certain songs, I'm taken back almost 30 years to parts of my youngest childhood because they were particular songs that we had on repeat in the van during our family travels.
I went to a concert last Friday night. Chris Stapleton, performing at the SaskTel Centre (it'll always be Sask Place to me...), came out after his very impressive opener Elle King did a hell of a set in her own right. Chris went on at 9:05, and he wasn't done until about 11:10, doing a two-hour-and-change set comprised of 24 songs that kind of ran the gamut and gave the 10,000+ people in the building an incredibly memorable show. Here's what I liked about it - it was strictly about the music and really nothing more. A lot of artists like to make their concerts "a show" because they think that they need to over-produce and give fans something more. Garth Brooks is a good example. I love Garth too, and the shows he did in Saskatoon in 2016 and Regina in 2019 were a lot of fun, but I couldn't help but be just a little annoyed when he would take a handful of his most beloved songs and kind of leave it up to us to sing. He and the band would move the song along with the music and Garth would be there during certain parts, but it was like he was playing karaoke with thousands of people. Don't get me wrong, I love audience participation too and karaoke can be fun, but I paid to hear YOU sing, know what I mean?
I think that's what resonated with me the most with Stapleton's show. He has a stage, he has some colorful lights here and there, and that's it. It's him and the band, and it's up to them to make the music that we all paid good money to come and hear and see performed live and in-person. To that end, he blew the roof off the place. Chris is a guy who knows what his audience wants, and what they want is the music, so he served it up to us. The end result was one of the absolute best concerts I've ever been to.
I come from a very musical family and for that, I've always been grateful. My uncles played the saxophone and guitar/banjo, my aunts played the piano, my mom had a hell of a voice, my brother played guitar, and I came in on the drums. I guess it was my job to carry the beat in our crew. I can remember so many family get-togethers, suppers, anniversary celebrations, reunions, and even the aftermath of funerals where we were all together, making music and just forgetting about everything else in the world. I think that might just be the greatest power that music has - making nothing else matter on Earth except for those 4-5 minutes that you're listening to a song.
Some of my favorite songs are ones that elicit specific memories for me. These may be because of the lyrics, they may be because of song composure, or they may be because they make me think of certain times in my life that I've always remembered.
Aaron Tippin - 'There Ain't Nothing Wrong with the Radio'
This song is very simple and it produces a very certain memory for me. In 1993, my family and I went on a massive summer road trip out to Kelowna, BC, making about a thousand stops along the way. This song must have played on the radio - funny, isn't it? - about 700,000 times during the course of our trip, and when it wasn't on the radio, one of us kids actually had it on cassette. Whenever I hear of that song, I just think back to our big BC road trip when I was 7 going on 8.
Tom Petty - 'Learning to Fly'
Tom Petty, in my eyes, was one of the greatest songwriters of the last half-century. His music, while enjoyable and memorable, also had a way of getting a message across. I came across this song while I was getting ready to make the move out to Victoria in 2005 to go to film school. And then, once I got moved in and had a very emotional goodbye with my mother, I was watching TV one night and I saw a movie preview that used that very song. It made me feel like what I was doing with my life at the time was kismet. The lyrics just spoke to me at that point in my life. 'So I started out, For God knows where, I guess I'll know, When I get there.' I was 20 years old, I had the whole world in front of me, and everything about life was still just a big question mark. Yeah, I felt that song, alright.
My favorite songs are my favorite because of the certain emotions that I have invested in them. You, dear reader, will also have certain emotions about your favorite tunes. And that's what's beautiful about it, isn't it? That we can all have this wheel of emotions when it comes to our favorite music?
Music, man. It can be downright life-changing when it's done right.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.