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Keep Music Alive

The day the music didn't die


by Dendy Jarrett


In the popular 1971 song American Pie, Don McLean referenced the death of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper as “the day the music died." With the passing of many great artists this year, I recently heard 2016 referred to as “the year the music died.”


However, the music didn’t die when Buddy Holly's plane crashed, rather it stayed very much alive. People are mortal, but music…is immortal.


When Prince recently died, my 12-year-old knew who Prince was, and was aware of his music, but wanted to know “what’s the big deal?”

I realized that I needed to do a better job of sharing my music with the next generation. But to my son’s point, I don’t know much about his music. It’s time to broaden my horizons, too.


When great musicians die or fade away, we're the ones who keep the music alive. Music becomes immortal through sharing—sharing the legacy, sharing the influence previous music has on current music, and sharing the joy of our favorite music with others.


There's no denying Prince was a brilliant genius on so many levels, but you also can't deny that he aggregated pieces of James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic, Jimi Hendrix, and even country (don't believe me? Search "Purple Rain country version"). Then he raised the bar by creating an intoxicating mix of production, theatre, fantastic musicians, and audience engagement. His shows weren't just concerts, but experiences.


Of course, David Bowie is another artist who moved us beyond what we saw as the musical horizon at that time. And he always remained true to the Muse, following her wherever she would take him—whether it was pure pop, or art for art's sake. But think about other great artists we've lost in the past, like Freddie Mercury, Elvis, or B.B. King. Their music and influence is very much alive today.


The older generations can’t complain about “kids and their music today,” because they once were those very same kids, with parents telling them to "turn that noise down!"


If you're a baby boomer, share some Van Halen or Little River Band with the younger generation. And if you're a teenager, return the favor. After all, Ariana Grande is pretty talented...


In American Pie, McClean says:


“I can’t remember if I cried

When I read about his widowed bride

But something touched me deep inside

The day the music died”


I agree that music can touch all of us deep inside, but I’ll hang on to McLean's image of a red, white and blue thumbs up and continue to keep the music alive.


PS: Head on over to Harmony Central as we all do our part to keep music alive.

PPS: Help us bring harmony to Harmony Central by providing you a better place to visit. Take a moment to answer these 5 Simple Questions.





Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.


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Idunno  |  June 04, 2016 at 5:06 pm
Yours is a vintage thought spread to the cities and diaspora since the birth of music. Like with Harley Davidson, no one wants much to do with what their fathers and grandfathers enjoyed, hence their joy is generation-specific and HD is losing its appeal. There's an inexplicable negativity associated with yesterday's generation that keeps it there, generation over generation, and music is a very good one to sample.

I do not listen to Jack Parr, Sinatra, Crosby, Dino, Torme, or any of my pop's favorites. Do You? Moreover, do you consider it your duty as a musician to collect the past and pay it forward? I don't. It isn't because I'm a crotchety old geezer, it's because I did not connect with that music, including big bands (especially big bands).

Now, '65-'75 was my time with zero interest in new stuff after that.  For me, that's when the music died. Am I expected to shoulder the years I enjoyed music and pay it forward? Does that sound like an honest claim anyone would swear to make, or attempt, for the sake of fond memory? How do I do that? How do I suppose I'm going to keep my musical likes relevant? Ideas? Yes, I can and do make with the period troubadour act on an acoustic guitar but that brings me closer to the smell of death in the air fr that music.

Don McLean is telling it like it is, which touches the deeply held romantic nostalgia people need to keep in special places for special times. You can't pay that forward. Like Grace Slick remarked, let the 60's die. 
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