Fun Stuff and a Lent Experiment

The last couple months have been pretty interesting overall.  I played some fun gigs, and I have been doing some things at school that have been new and exciting.  This second semester is really getting long, and I am pretty excited to not be a first-year teacher ever again.  I like my job and I like the challenges, and from now on I will have a better idea of what is coming next and how to tackle it. 

On to the experiment!  I have been trying some new things...I've learned about Radical Honesty and I have been trying to incorporate portions of it into my life.  I've read some fascinating Malcolm Gladwell books.  Finally, I decided to give up groove metal and thrash and grind and djent and all that stuff for Lent. 

I found myself listening to an extensive list of bands like Lamb of God, Volumes, Car Bomb, and so on pretty frequently.  On a daily basis, many times a day in fact, I found myself craving this type of music.  Maybe it was an outlet, maybe it just gave me energy, I'm not sure what the draw was.  I had to have it though.  After thinking about the detrimental effects of so many negative things crossing the mind so often, I thought I would try to find out what might happen if I alleviated this music from my life for a while.  I cut out everything that had any type of screaming vocals for Lent.  Here's what I found out.

The first two weeks were tough.  I cheated a little by listening to instrumental albums, and that was alright.  After a while, though, I wanted more substance.  I started pulling out some of my older favorites from the 00's and a bit earlier.  The first day I did this, it was refreshing.  Then it just took off, like a huge wave!  I was able to listen to things again, pick out small details and appreciate some simplicity.  I didn't have to decipher racing, unintelligible drop-tuned riffs, but I could spend time crafting some scenery in my imagination again. 

I like the singer/songwriter simplicity of certain bands, like Lit and Caroline's Spine and Pushmonkey.  It was cool to look back and realize how much fun a lot of the bands a few years ago seemed to be having all while making something musical.  If they weren't shredders, who cared?  They added some distortion and strummed the electric guitars like acoustic guitars sometimes and just did what they did and it worked.  The drumming wasn't outlandish, it just kept a beat and added some color, and everyone probably went home pleasantly spent at the end of the day. 

I also enjoyed listening to a couple Sevendust songs (sans screaming of course), and it sounded like an interesting transition into the harder music we have today.  I'm sure there were bands that were doing similar things years before Sevendust.  It still grooved and the riffs weren't at all difficult, it was just loud greasy kid stuff.  It reminded me of watching a puppy play tug of war. 

I just reread what I wrote, and I know this sounds like an anthem for the music of yore.  I hope not to evolve into one of those people that refuses to acknowledge new music.  I'm excited to see what comes next.  I'm excited to see what comes next.  I'm excited to see what comes next....

Anyhow, throughout the last six weeks I found myself listening more.  I also feel like I have mellowed out a little (which I was hoping for).  My days have been a little bit more pleasant, and I have found myself taking a step back and being more empathetic rather than dashing to the nearest release on my ipod in the face of a problem.  That has been excellent, and I do hope it continues. 

I found myself missing only Killswitch Engage throughout the whole experiment.  That is one of the few bands that speaks to me on a higher level, and it just happened to be on the 'banned' list.  Does it really count since I interpret Killswitch in a positive manner?  Their lyrics are pretty incredible, and the instrumentation is fantastic I think.  They use dynamics from time to time.  Amazing.

So, to conclude, I noticed the positive effects of not listening to screaming music for Lent.  I mellowed out, I was able to think a bit more clearly, I found other outlets, and I was able to listen critically to music once again.  The last was an interesting discovery, for it was a skill I did not think I lost.  I know that having negativity has a detrimental effect on life.  People who have been bullied a great deal throughout their life have been shown to have shorter lifespans.  I wonder if negativity works that way as a whole in some way.  What if you take negative music but, you're a dork musician like me who listens to the instruments over the lyrics, and is able to utilize it for something good?  People used to get so frustrated with me because I would try to describe a song to them by singing the guitar part!  I'll have to do more reading about the negativity thing, as I am sure there is more out there.  The experiment was interesting though.  Anyhow, a big outlet was getting ready for an intermediate triathlon, which I have never done in any form.  I am stoked for sure, and a bit nervous.  My swimming has been getting better, which I was the most worried about I suppose.  Thanks for reading, and have a great tomorrow!

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