Tuesday, July 12, 2011

- Barefoot in the Grass

I don't exactly remember the first time I was completely blissed out by music.  I remember a lot of exploration into my musical identity in highschool...when I wore bell bottoms and a Led Zeppelin tee shirt and listened to the Grateful Dead's American Beauty album every day when I came home from school and made sure to watch all of the Beatles movies.  It had to have been sometime before senior year because I did a project on the emotional fulfillment that music can bring.  It was one of those crazy Lyceum projects that had components from all four of of our core classes and I seriously remember writing an equation for the math section that explained it...which was pretty flippin' awesome and explains why I got an A.

Side note: My 10 year highschool reunion is coming up, should I attend?

Highschool is not where I was going with this.  Here's the thing about me and music - it has this amazing power over me, as it does over many people.  When I am really connected with the rhythm and melodies and lyrics and notes...I literally feel that joy in my chest.  I have experienced this at every Bonnaroo, most Widespread Panic shows (except the one where Jaclyn was injured), a Rusted Root show in Asheville under the Big Ass Fan, in the rain at a Ben Harper show at Koka Booth and countless times driving with the windows down jamming to my favorite song of the day.  These are all treasured moments shared with people that are now strangers, people that are still best friends, and moments where I was alone, but never lonely.

But, like any relationship, mine with music ebbs and flows.  There are times of great exploration and discovery, and times filled with top 40 and a devotion to all things Ke$ha.  As craptastic as Top 40 is and can be...I have just as many fond memories from dancing at Frat parties, singing at the top of my lungs at piano and karaoke bars, dancing in the kitchen with the girls I babysat for, and most recently driving around Cali.  I would also like to point out I have had some epic forays into country music, which is why Garth Brooks still gets me.

Recently I switched from Top 40 into finding some really great stuff on Pandora.  Falling in complete and total love with Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, Vampire Weekend, MGMT and continuing my obsession with the Avett Brothers, The Black Keys and My Morning Jacket.  Good God Jim James...if this man's voice doesn't make you have a visceral reaction then we can't be friends.

The funny thing is, this timing parallels my summer 3 years ago when I was interning at General Mills.  Michael Franti had just released Yell Fire and it was in constant rotation with John Butler trio Live From St. Gallen.  I remember being glued to my iPod shuffle at work, at home, and even listening as I fell asleep at night because I just couldn't.  Get.  Enough.  Michael Franti was playing the 10,000 Lakes festival that summer - this festival in this gorgeous part of Minnesota that I never made it to despite wanting to desperately.  Of course now that I'm here with the means and vacation time, this festival is non-existant - on "hiatus" due to the economy.

What I'm saying is, I have waited 3 years to see this guy.  I have listened to live albums, streamed festival performances, gone months without listening to a single song only to rediscover a CD and fall into the rabbit hole all over again.  When I saw he was playing the Basilica Block Party it was like everything clicked into place...years of waiting was finally going to come to a close.

You know how you look forward to something for so long and then it happens and it didn't live up to your expectations or the excitement you had before the event?  This was not one of those times.  I could not have asked for anything more from that night.  He played every single song that I absolutely love and kept me jumping for almost an hour and a half.  His music is filled with such love and positivity that it is impossible not to get wrapped up in the energy...it was unforgettable and completely fulfilling.  I'm still smiling from the experience and reflecting over something that I realized for the 10,592,836,740,589,612,938,457 time while standing still during a slow acoustic moment: life, like my devotion to music, ebbs and flows.  Sometimes it's easy to forget or stray from how much simple things mean to you until you find yourself in a situation where it's right there, completely surrounding you...and you realize that dancing barefoot in the grass to really good music is this amazing experience you never want to stop having.

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