So much of this series is grounded in my past. Makes sense, I guess. I mean, it would be pretty incredible for me to relate a musical yarn from the future, unpublished song included. I’m nostalgic, not magical. But there is a pronounced bias in my writing towards my distant past, and that concerns me. It suggests that I’m, well, stuck in the past, incapable of discovering, let alone liking, anything new.
There’s no escaping the impact our high school and college/university years have in cultivating one’s musical persona. These are formative years and whatever music you’re really into at that time becomes a de facto soundtrack for an unforgettable part of your life regardless of whether those years were great, awful, or as is commonly the case, a dizzying mixture of both.
A love of music should not remain trapped in memories, unable to advance beyond an era your body, mind, and soul have so obviously left behind. Even if your mind and soul are maddeningly stagnant, your body has (cough) grown, mullet and black concert tees be damned. You don’t want to be that old dog who can’t (won’t?) learn new tricks. And as my forties tick by, it’s become apparent I am dangerously close to being that dog.
Sure, the kids discovering their own musical preferences has exposed me to some new music. I’d be dishonest if I said I liked much of it or spent any time listening to it when I’m alone. Nobody likes every flavour of ice cream (I’m talking to you, Tiger Tail). Nor do I spend much time exploring new bands or genres or even new music in old, beloved genres by old, beloved bands. Too often I resort to Classic This and Classic That, making no greater effort than pushing the randomizer on the downloaded MP3s (I miss you Napster) I’ve had for nearly two decades. So it was an unexpected but welcome surprise when my auditory libido was jolted from its complacency by the unlikeliest of people.
I’m an assistant hockey coach for both my kids’ minor hockey teams and by that I mean I move pucks, place pylons, and sporadically encourage kids who have already tuned me out to perform any number of practice drills more like the head coach showed them than like the bastardization of said drill they are currently engaging in. I also open and close doors to the bench on an as required basis during games. In other words, this is a pastime not a career path.
I’ve met a lot of dads (and one mom) over my years of coaching and most of them have been great people whom I’m happy to have met. Some I even count as friends, now. That being said, I haven’t always felt a connection to this group of involved parents. I am, after all, the only stay-at-home dad and as such when socializing turns to work discussions I tend to become a bystander, or forgotten altogether. This is similarly true when talk turns to hobbies where again I just don’t seem to entertain myself like most others. Even our hockey histories tend to diverge irreconcilably. There’s only so much juice to be squeezed out of my, “I played against Kirk Maltby for years, that four time cup winning bastard who I swear wasn’t that good when we were kids,” sour grapes rant when compared to guys who actually played semi-pro or pro. Hard-working, sport-loving men, blue and white collar alike, and stay-at-home dads that occasionally blog aren’t exactly dating app match material. I get it, but it still sucks sometimes.
This year my kids’ hockey teams brought with them a new batch of dads/coaches whom I had not known previously. Unfamiliar faces meant a bit of anxiety for me and the inevitable rehashing and then silence as I revealed my unique career choice. As long as they aren’t assholes, which they so rarely are, I get over it in short order and this year was no exception. Except, then something remarkable happened.
During a few moments of down time at a practice for my son’s team, a few days after I’d sent an inquiry email to the coaching staff, one of them came up to me and commented on my blog. He had noticed the links in my email signature block (holy shit it worked!) and had taken a look at what I was writing. My instinct was to cringe internally. Talking proudly about my writing isn’t something I do naturally, so although I was pleased with his acknowledgement of my blog I was simultaneously apprehensive of the inevitably awkward conversation about to transpire. It was anything but.
He proceeded to tell me he too is “into the arts” and enjoys writing his own music, a hobby he hopes to develop more earnestly in the future. His passion is movie soundtrack style composition and something called Post Rock, a genre I had never heard. Mostly instrumental, this music, while created with traditional rock instruments, focuses on textures and moods, often metamorphosing into sprawling opuses that really expand your mind. Think classical music for a modern, post rock ‘n’ roll world. In other words, this genre should be called … wait for it … Classic Rock. It’s also peachy for getting high to. Or so I’ve heard.
I was fascinated. By the music, yes, but also the small, creative bond we shared. It was all such a new experience to me. I’ve begun exploring Post Rock and quite enjoy a lot of it but my toes have only just broken the surface of the expansive lake of music it encompasses. What really blew me away, though, was finally listening to some of his personal musical creations.
I write. I’m not exceptionally zealous about it, but I believe I do it well and I like how that makes me feel. Writing music, however, is a passion that I especially admire. This blogging I do feels juvenile by comparison. Amateur composers especially impress me. Creating music takes courage and skill and imagination that I can’t comprehend but I sure as hell appreciate it. It’s also something I damn well love to share whenever I get the chance.
Therefore, I relish this opportunity to kick of your weekend with another assortment of musical creations that I’ve only recently discovered. Like, literally in the past six weeks. This is as close to the future as you’re ever going to get, folks! You won’t hear this stuff on the radio (yet) and you won’t have the slightest clue who this artist is (yet) but I do hope you can appreciate the coolness of the music and the unique context in which it exists.
The first clip called “Martian Martini Lounge”, circa 2015, is my personal favourite composition by my fellow hockey coach and journeyman artiste who goes by several monikers, in this case Sons of a Martian Warrior. Trust me, that name fits perfectly. I love the brooding ambiance of this piece and the way it builds without becoming frantic. I listen to it and envision a scene in an arthouse, noir film where the protagonist has just committed a climactic action (probably a crime) and is silently driving through the rainy night absorbing his/her new reality. Do that with one of my blogs, I dare ya!
Next I’ve included two videos he has created with two more of his groovy compositions accompanying. Take some time to go back to SoundCloud and listen more of his works. Have a great weekend and enjoy this early Christmas present.