Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Gift of Music by Peter Reum

When people ask me why I pursue music so ardently, the explanations I can offer do not seem to resonate with acquaintances unless the person has a similar passion, even if it is not music. Passion may not be the right word, but it is the one I have come to be comfortable with. I am not someone who could be termed a music snob, and my secret affection for novelty records is silly, but I still get a perverse pleasure from listening to Transfusion by Nervous Norvus.

If there is an afterlife, the thing I fervently hope there will be more music than I can ever hear. My family has morphed through the years, and I have been married three times. My current marriage is the most rewarding, because I feel finally mature enough to appreciate the gifts my family offers. Through the three marriages, I was always faithful to music. That is a sad commentary on the immaturity I brought to the first marriage, and the self-centeredness that I exhibited. Now, I am older, and music, my constant companion, continues to be the hub of the wheel that is my life. Perhaps you as my reader can recall the first time music hit you over the head and took no prisoners.

My initial exposure to music was Elvis on Ed Sullivan and Cowboy music on KOB Radio in Albuquerque. There was a couple with the male host of the program being named George Mahoney. I remember the singers being guys like Slim Whitman and Cowboy Copas.  I wish I could remember more from that period, as it was the beginning.

Radio KOMA in Oklahoma City, a clear channel station, became my station of choice in 1958, and later in the Sixties they played the records that became the foundation of my likes and dislikes in music. There was something amazing about hearing The Crickets, Elvis, and later, the Beach Boys, The Four  Seasons, and the entire British Invasion period of hits.  The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five recorded the music that many of us first heard when Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Bobby Freeman and many more original artists first cut the tunes that British Bands covered on their albums.

I had the chance to actually be in the music business at the height of its sales in the mid Seventies, when albums sold a million copies with ease. Toward the end of my time in the business, I realized that I did not want to turn 30 in the music business. I went back to graduate school, and my first wife kindly helped me get through the application process when I had doubts I could be accepted. The music business back then seemed to go through a period of stagnation, and the prices of cds made vinyl the cost-effective answer.  I got tired of schlepping albums around, and finally broke down and bought cds. I won't get into the debate about vinyl versus compact disc, but I will say that having to repurchase all that music in a new format was reprehensible.

Now the emphasis on songs rather than albums has come full circle, and the individual song is again the center of critical attention, with albums being still released, but the attention being more directed to songs. I don't know where things will go in the future, but I can honestly say that there is more loving attention being paid to boxed sets and archive releases than ever before. It is a great time to be a music consumer, with a new Kinks set, The Basement Tapes, and numerous other releases scheduled.  The best of all worlds is becoming true, as archive releases pour out of various companies.  I just hope I have another few decades to catch it all....