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Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Christopher Davies

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Here’s the latest in our series of articles in which we ask the BAMM.tv crew one simple question: why do you love music? Walking up to bat this time around is BAMM.tv Editorial Director Christopher Davies …

What does ‘love’ actually mean, anyway? That old stalwart The Oxford English Dictionary simply refers to it as “a strong feeling of affection”, which frankly seems like the kind of vagueness a modern politician would peddle. If we take that meaning literally, then to say ‘I love music’ would mean ‘I really am quite fond of music.’

‘Quite fond’ … yeah, that’s not going to cover it. ‘Quite fond’ doesn’t describe the sensation I had when I first cranked up The Avalanches’ Since I Left You or My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless or Pulp’s This Is Hardcore or any of the million albums that have soundtracked my life, emotions, memories and even moulded my general worldview. ‘Quite fond’ doesn’t cover the tingles I get when Johnny Marr begins that guitar fiddling in Talking Head’s Nothing But Flowers. It doesn’t cover the serene dopamine rush of chillng out to Stars Of The Lid’s That Finger on Your Temple Is the Barrel of My Raygun. It doesn’t cover the laugh-out-loud wonderment of hearing R.A The Rugged Man spit his rhymes (“If i ain’t the best then I’m the closest / I’m like Richard Pryor before multiple sclerosis”).

Buuuut then again … ‘love’ might not cover that feeling either. Because – and you’ll forgive me if I indulge the sentiments of Foreigner for a moment – no-one quite knows what love is in the first place. Why do I ‘love’ music? Not to be a cop-out but I honestly couldn’t say. I just know that it makes me feel something … and that’s good enough for me.

OTHER BAMM.TV STORIES YOU MIGHT LIKE:

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Sophie DeWitt

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Here’s the latest in our season of articles from the BAMM.tv crew about why music is the love of our lives: Sophie DeWitt reminisces on a very special experience which was soundtracked by Vampire Weekend …

It was early afternoon on a cool Sunday in August, the third and final day of Outside Lands 2013. Not only had the previous two days in Golden Gate Park brought me one of the most wonderful, serendipitous weekends of my life (holy crap, I’d seen Paul McCartney live), but that day was shaping up to be one incredibly epic finale.

My friends and I had spent the better part of the morning hopping around to Foals then Hall & Oats (a set which had inspired a spontaneous dance circle with the wonderfully happy, drunken strangers nearby our blanket). For about forty minutes all that mattered were the people I tapped toes with, laughing and smiling as we whirled around each other. We had the audacity to hold eye contact for more than a second, unwilling or unable to break the spell the festival had cast upon us. It wasn’t the drugs or alcohol though, it was the music.

We were fast friends. When the set was over, some departed with a gleeful look, a wave, fully exhilarated. My ragtag group stuck out like a sore thumb in the notoriously still San Francisco crowd. It was my amigo Amit’s first live concert (don’t ask me how that happened, I was as confused as you). He couldn’t have been more enthusiastic, moving one way then another, pulling us out onto the grass, stomping along to “Everlasting Arms”. (You know you’ve had a great festival experience when you can lose your collective shit dancing to downtempo Vampire Weekend).

We noticed a slender woman, early 50’s, swaying quietly next to a tall teenage boy who couldn’t have been older than 17. She glanced at me and our bubbling, bouncing mass and smiled. The boy couldn’t be bothered, too preoccupied, too uncomfortable, he stood stoically. As Amit extended his hand out to the woman, her face lit up, incredulous. To both our joy and surprise she stepped over to our circle, laughing, jumping, and clapping along with us. We went on like that for another song or two until the set ended and applause erupted from the field around us. Breathless, she nodded ‘thank you’, smiling wide, and retook her place next to the young boy. If I had to guess, I’d say she enjoyed the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ manic closing set almost as much as our crazy group did.

On any other day, in any other setting this woman and I would’ve passed one another without notice. Our age difference was almost too vast to share much commonality. Her willingness to engage with the music, with us in the moment, is a singularly unique experience I haven’t encountered again this year. That is what I love about music. The intimacy and spontaneity that grows from a shared musical moment is incredibly special and can’t be recreated. It’s not the sweating-in-a-bar-on-Polk-street-with-a-questionable-guy-groping-you kind of intimate, but the unspoken, just looking, just feeling, just dancing-in-a-field-of-strangers-and-seeing-their-true-happiness kind of intimate.

It was the music, that woman will remember. Music allowed her to leave her daughter’s distant boyfriend behind to join our crazy group of twenty-somethings in pure bliss.

That’s where music can take you, how it can connect us. And that’s what I love.

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna

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In the second of our ‘Why I Love Music’ season of articles, BAMM.tv’s Jeff LaPenna recalls how the 1990s pop-punk of Green Day first opened his eyes to the world of music …

Music has always been a major, compelling force in my life and I’m not sure why. Why do some people love music more than others? Why have I fallen in love with music the way that I have? It might have to do with loneliness, or, putting it differently, with community.

I was a lonely only child who wished he had siblings and always wanted to be with friends, but those were unrealistic desires. When I couldn’t be with friends I would find other ways of escaping being by myself: hanging out with video game characters, getting to know TV personas, or, letting myself get swept away with music. I quickly recognized bands, and musicians as friends with whom I could familiarize myself and count on whenever I needed them.

Green Day’s “Basket Case”, and really, all of Dookie, was the impetus for my love of music. It struck a cord deep, deep in my body, and I knew I needed more of the feeling. From that point on, at 8 years old, I started my true path of music discovery. I eventually tried to learn to play many different instruments, and found out that my love of music doesn’t extend into playing, but remains in appreciating, and supporting.

Eventually, I found myself deeply involved in the Atlanta punk and hardcore scenes, where I met most of my best friends from my childhood, some of which are still besties to this day. Somehow, I even convinced my very patient, very cool parents, that my friends should have their bi-weekly band practices in my bedroom (since it was abnormally big for a small home). That lasted a good six months until my parents exercised their own right to not love punk rock.

My taste has evolved since then, just as my appreciation for other things in life. Just as it’s easier for me to make friends with a more diverse selection of people, so am I able to recognize and appreciate much broader scopes of music. I realize now, that yes, the reason I love music is friendship, the escape of loneliness, and the desire to be a part of and create community. Music gives us unique identity and allows us to be a part of something outside of ourselves. Music is friendly because it is familiar and relatable. Not everyone needs that company in life, but I sure do.

Why I Love Music – BAMM.tv’s Phil Lang

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This is the first in a new regular series in which we ask the BAMM.tv crew one simple question: why do you love music? We begin with Mr. Phil Lang …

I love Aretha Franklin’s voice when she goes up to get that last note on “People Get Ready.” Her voice pulls you closer to God, or at the very least makes a damn good argument for the notion one exists.

I love that the last line on the last song of For Emma, Forever Ago is “Your love will be safe with me.”

I love how “Oh Yoko” reminds me that the most romantic sentiments are literal and simple. “In the middle of the bath I call your name.”

I love knowing what song will play at my funeral – “When the Ships Come In”.

I love knowing what song will play for my first dance at my wedding. “Need Your Love So Bad,” by Little Willie John. I have zero doubt that my future bride, whomever that might be, will agree with me on this choice, regardless of her music tastes.

I love moments of perfection. There’s no perfect song, but there are songs with perfect moments. The bridge of Mason Jenning’s “The Light” (Part 2) is perfect (at the 1:30 mark). “Please don’t forget how much I meant to you when you are redefined by someone new.” A simple articulation of the most complex of feelings.

I love how “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” changes my gait. It’s coolness manifests itself in my stride. The song makes me cooler than I am for seven minutes and fifteen seconds.

I love horns in rock music. There aren’t enough horn sections in rock bands these days.

I love that Jackson Browne wrote “These Days” at 16 years old. It’s kind of silly, actually. What days, other than “these,” are there to a 16 year-old? Yet, he nails it. He’s right – I do think a lot about the things I forgot to do. It is hard to risk another (lover) these days. And while we’re at it –I haven’t forgotten my failures, so don’t confront me with them. Yeah, what that 16 year-old Jackson said. I think writing a song can produce an idea the songwriter doesn’t fully understand at the time he or she writes it, it goes out into the world, and its full weight is first felt and understood by a stranger. There’s something metaphysical and fundamental to human nature in that transference.

I love Freddie Mercury.

I love when Hip Hop is backed by a live band. “The OtherSide” – The Roots, Bilal Oliver, Greg Porn.

I love a killer sample. “Heart Of The City” (Ain’t No Love) – Jay-Z.

I love that “The Boy In The Bubble” challenges me everytime. I know every image rendered in the song, and I line them up in my mind and take stock of which run parallel and which intersect. I’m still figuring this song out.

I love that a great song can be high art, but high art is not a requirement in order for a song to be great.

I love that “Move On Up” is over eight minutes long. I don’t typically like long songs, but  “Move On Up” (and “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” for that matter) could go on as long as I want them to go on.  I should be able to select the amount of time the song plays, like a setting – “10 minutes,” “30 minutes,” or “doing dishes.”

I love how music is a dog ear to our memories. It preserves who we were and contextualizes who we’ve become. Shameless plug – that’s why we (BAMM) made a series about this very thing – Musical Yearbook – themusicalyearbook.com

I love movies about music, but I don’t like biopics about musicians. Give me more High Fidelity and Almost Famous and less Walk The Line and Ray.

I love that music – even more so than sports – is a great equalizer. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you grew up. All that matters is whether or not you can play.

I love that Sting was the artist featured in Bill O’Reilly’s meltdown. That detail has always been hilarious to me. Of all artists to be involved in a clip of a dumbass losing his shit, it’s Sting – the serene, tantric love machine.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_HyZ5aW76c

I love what the right song at the right moment can do to the mood of a bar. You can’t go wrong with “I Want You Back” (if you’re looking to breathe some life into the place) or “Desolation Row” (if you’re looking to clear the place out and drink some whiskey alone…but the wrong bartender will probably skip that one on you).

I love music how music can make lonesome a shared experience.

I love how my take on a song is ever-changing. It’s possible I’ve  listened to Graceland (the album) one thousands of times, but I am not the same person I was when I first heard the album, so, in a way, it’s not the same album either. Relationships work the same way. Friends, foes, family, and lovers – as I change so does my understanding of them. That’s comforting.

I love how my mom played the station wagon dashboard like a piano on our road trip to Mount Rushmore when I was five or six. We listened to a lot of Willie, and she was on the keys for “On The Road Again.”  Harley’s were flying by us on I-90 (the Sturgis motorcycle rally was the same week), and we, the personification of Suburbia, stood out like a boulder in a river. The farmland extended beyond the horizon. It was August, and hot. On that day, we were the band of gypsies rolling down the highway. I was happy.

Ha Ha Tonka: Their Personal Playlist

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Hope you’re enjoying our exclusive season of great stuff from our Artist of the Month Ha Ha Tonka. Keep your eyes peeled for an amazing competition later this week, but in the meantime take a look at this personal playlist of the tunes that are tickling Ha Ha Tonka’s eardrums below. If you want to check out the band’s favorite musical moments from the BAMM.tv vault, that’s all here.

St. Vincent – ‘Digital Witness’

Jack Conte – ‘Wake Me Up (remix)’

SSLYBY – ‘Nightwater Girlfriend’


Langhorne Slim – ‘Past Lives’

Murder By Death – ‘Lost River’

Ha Ha Tonka: Their Favorites From The BAMM.tv Vault

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We hope that you’re enjoying our new Artist of the Month Ha Ha Tonka. There’s lot more great (and exclusive) stuff to come, including a fantastic competition lined up for next week. In the meantime, however, we asked the Tonka gents to select their five favorite moments from the sprawling BAMM.tv archives. Here are their choices:

The Flashbulb – ‘Virtuous Cassette’

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Wild Child: Their Favorites From The BAMM.tv Vault

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Hope you’re enjoying our exclusive season of stuff from Austin’s very own melody-merchants Wild Child, who have presently been crowned our February Artist of the Month. We’ve already interviewed them and revealed their personal playlist … now we ask them to pick their personal highlights from the massive musical vault here at BAMM.tv. Which great artists did they choose? Check out the list below …

1. Birds and Batteries – ‘Trouble Makes Three’

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BAMM.tv Best Of 2013: Nick Hansen

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We’ve got a unique twist for our final Best Of 2013 round-up (before the New Year comes a-crashin’ in: BAMM.tv’s Nick Hansen has stepped into the time machine and selected the highlights from the end of 2003, which was remarkably a whole decade ago. We’ll let Nick explain further …

Farewell to 2013 with nostalgia for what 2003 sounded like in a 40 minute package of dirty little memories. I know not all the tracks were actually from 2003, but hey ya, go on, have a break, put your feet up and sing along, you know the words.


1. Hot Chip – Crap Kraft Dinner

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BAMM.tv Best Of 2013: Sarah Levitt

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Ready for some more musical highlights of 2013, as hand-picked by the BAMM.tv team? Good! Today we asked BAMM.tv’s Sarah Levitt to choose her favorite albums of the year gone by. The list is as follows …

1. VV Brown – Samson & Dalilah

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BAMM.tv Best Of 2013: Fernando Estrada

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Hope you had a great Christmas – and what with the New Year celebrations yet to come, little reminder is needed that we’re still in the tail-end of 2013, and still indulging in that wistful ‘looking back at the musical highlights of the year’ business. Today we asked BAMM.tv’s Fernando Estrada to pick his five favorite albums of 2013 …

1. San Fermin – San Fermin

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