The Power Of Music

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By John Hubbuch

The Hohle Fels flute was discivered in a cave near Ulm Germany. It is 35,000 years old, and is thought to be the oldest instrument in history. So music has been with us for a long time.There must be something deep in our DNA that draws us to it. It explains why music is so central to us, especially young people.                                    

When I was young, music was very important to me. But the unhappy synergy of alcohol, cigarettes and rock and roll caused me to quit all three in 1989. On balance it was a good decision. No doubt.                                     

My youngest son came by the house last week ,and was excited about having seen Martin Scorsese's  The Last Waltz, the concert film of The Band's last performance at The Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on November 25, 1976. He went on and on about how great the music was.  So I moved The Last Waltz to the top of my Netflix list, and watched it twice this week.  It was awesome, and reminded me of what I had been missing.            

The music was great on its own, but its power for me was the way it evoked time and place. When the primal almost paleolithic Levon Helm put his heart and soul into the dirge "The Night They Drive Old Dixie Down," I remember singing that song with my Vanderbilt roomates as if it were yesterday. Chills  traversed my spine 40 years later. And when Robbie Robertson played guitar and sang Up On Cripple Creek, I thought there 's the coolest dude in the history of the world. I want to be that guy. Then a young Neil Young comes on stage awith  the opening line of "Helpless" :  " There is a town in North Ontario", then sings  the chorus of  with Robertson and Rick Danko. I remembered it oh so well.                           

There are lots of other  great songs and moments: Muddy Waters does "I'm A Man"; Eric Clapton and Robertson do a blistering guitar riff;  a drunken, manic Van Morrison in a ridiculous sequined jumpsuit  does a killer "Turn Up The Radio"   and Bob Dylan's" Baby Can I Come Home With You".                                                                   

A few songs vividly  evoked a long ago life and time when everything was possible.  Sweet memory. Inevitably marriage, job, kids and age erode and transform the shape of our lives. That is the way it is. That is the way it should be. I would urge anyone to see The Last Waltz. It is a way of understanding the power of music, and the spirit of an age.                        

Now some my view this blog and The Last Waltz as the ramblings of a  nostalgic 62 year old. Maybe, but all I can say is that you ought to have been there.  Forever young.

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Dave Coulter  

Posted: February 1st, 2012 1:42 PM

There are some amazing musicians in that film.

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