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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 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.

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