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The Influence of English Music in My Life
by Ehud M. Garcia
I should have a lot to say about the influence of the international music in my life. In fact, it started in my home church in Araguari, of course. Most of the hymns that we sang were plain translations of European and American hymns. Among them, for example, we will find England's and Germany's national anthems, and American civic hymns. But this is not the place for discussing such an intricate issue. I love singing hymns, and they are a great blessing in my life. Other international tunes that have educated my mind come from Mexico, Italy, Portugal, Israel, Spain, England, Ireland, France, Germany, the United States and Canada.
However, I think that the international music that most influenced my life (and still does) comes from Great Britain. I have a strong attachment to the British music for many years, since I was a pre-teen. It all started with the Beatles, then the underground group Pink Floyd. John Lennon was my big "idol" for many years. I used to dress like he did, wear my glasses (still do) with round shaped frames, and so forth. I remember the day he was cowardly assassinated in New York. I was already in Seminary, but enjoying my summer vacation (remember that Brazil is in the Southern Hemisphere, therefore summer starts in December!). My dad and I were watching the noon news when we learned about his death. Boy, did I weep! It was a great loss for me, as it was for most peacemakers in the world.
Elton John played an important rôle in this whole thing. One of my favored songs by him was "Skyline Pigeon," which seems to have been wiped out from his portfolio. I wonder why! But his album "The Yellow Brick Road" was really cool! Rick Wakeman and Yes were also a great music to hear; so was Genesis, both during Peter Gabriel's time and then with Phil Collins. It is indeed a great group! Eric Clapton is one of my favored guitarists for many years; mainly after he went solo in his career. I love listening to the Bee Gees and also the Stones. Dire Straits is really fun to listen. I appreciate Sting, but I think he patronized the Brazilian Indians a lot, which gave me the impression that he was using them for self-promotion. This put me at some distance from him; but the guy is good indeed!
Before I say more about the Beatles, Lennon, Pink Floyd and U2, I want to mention the American music. As I pay attention to those years back, I do not have a lot of American music in my past; perhaps more now that I am acculturated into the American culture, but even so, I doubt. Among them, the strongest influence for me is Paul Simon. He is a great poet and composer. I love his music; although I was not very fond of his work with the Brazilian music. I think he should have stopped with Graceland and procured a new vein for his music. After his involvement with the Brazilian music ("The Rhythm of the Saints" Album), I stopped buying his new releases. Nonetheless, it is fun to hear him and Milton Nascimento singing a couple of songs together, in different albums. Maybe when he comes up with something more American I will come back to him. I love hearing Jimi Hendrix! Since I leave sort of close to Renton, Washington, I want to go to his burial site one of these days and check it out. Every time I go to Seattle, I think about it, but the rain does not allow it... Hendrix is good stuff from beginning to the end. Boy, does he play the best guitar in the world, or what? Bruce Springsteen is also an important figure in my musical taste (I like his album The Rising, it is a superb work!). Bob Dylan has also been one of my favorites, mainly in his early years; right now I am eager to absorb his latest release of a few weeks ago.
During my adolescent days, I loved hearing Johnny Rivers, CCR, the Monkees, and the Beach Boys. But besides that, I prefer the Blues and the American Jazz. Since I do not have much time for them, I love listening to the public radio, when they have special programs for Blues and Jazz. Among the many good public radio stations, I would like to recommend one that you can listen 24/7 in the Internet. When I lived in Calgary, Alberta, I always listened to my favored radio station there, CKUA, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton and Calgary. They have the best music in the world! Besides the good stuff in Jazz and Blues, they also have a wonderful program in the morning (West Canada time) on international music, "Radio Mondo." Check it out!
The Beatles are still the sweetest sound to my ears! Their best album for me is "Abbey Road," probably because it was their last one together and showed a lot of intelligent stuff in it. "Revolver" was also a great album; so was "Sgt. Pepper's." But it was John Lennon who most influenced me! Among his many songs, "Imagine," of course is one of the greatest hits of all times. I believe that for me the album "Imagine" (as released in Brazil around 1972) was the most beautiful one; mainly because of the soul of the album and the romantic stuff in it. He really loved Yoko Ono and that album was very intimate for him, in my poor opinion. Paul McCartney is a good musician and I love a number of his songs; but I still side with Lennon. Sorry! I've just bought the Beatles Anthology, in five DVDs. It is really worth spending a few bucks on that. I am really having a great time watching them; it's more than eleven hours of good stuff.
Besides Coca-Cola, diet please!, the only other thing I have every day is at least one track by Pink Floyd! (Of course I am exaggerating here!... although at the time of this writing I am listening to "The Dark Side of the Moon" album!). Pink Floyd is perhaps the greatest musical influence on me. I think I have all of their albums, and I study them on a regular basis. Their influence on me was more the quality of the music than the lyrics. In fact, I think "The Wall" is one of the most depressing albums of all times in terms of lyrics (this is my personal opinion; but even Roger Waters seemed to think so in one of his interviews for the "The Wall" DVD). But the music is phenomenal! It is hard for me to tell which album is the best for me because I like all of them with one exception: I really don't pay much attention to their "The Final Cut." I believe it was their worst release, another depressing trip to the pain that Roger seems to carry upon himself since he was a kid, I guess. I think that they will agree with me on that. No doubt their greatest album is "The Dark Side of the Moon." The tracks that I like the most, from their various albums, are perhaps: "Time," "Breath," "Comfortably Numb," "On the Turning Away," and "I wish you were here (parts I and II)." But even so, I am afraid I cannot linger to these tracks only. Again, I like all of their work.
A word or two on the "revived" Pink Floyd (i.e., after Roger left the group) and Roger Waters. I like the reengineered Pink Floy a lot. Their newer releases show some good lyrics, with a more positive message. I know there has been a lot of discussion on the matter, but I stick with the three guys as being the real Pink Floyd group still. It does not matter for me if they have added a number of new musicians to bring forth the continuous quality of their music. They are there as the group in itself. Pulse is a great release, so is their concert; if you missed their new DVD with the entire Pulse Concert in London, I should say you are missing a great show. Now, talking about Roger, he is a great musician, a poet who speaks about his pain. His solo work is commendable in everything. If you want to have a great time, get his DVD "In the Flesh," taped in Portland, Oregon, and enjoy it. Although he lingers on Pink Floyd music all the time (what is new here?), he does a wonderful job. His two guitarists are exceptionally good and it is a great experience to watch them perform. Roger is also a more mature person and conscious of the greatness of Pink Floyd's contribution to the world of Rock and Roll. I am looking forward to his concert in Seattle in October, 2006, because they will play the entire "Dark Side of the Moon" for the first time (as led by Roger, not Pink Floyd).
Still talking about tapes and DVDs, I good friend of mine from Canada just sent me a video-tape of Pink Floyd's music in Italy years ago (it is now in DVD also). First class stuff! They play incredible music in Pompei and give some interesting interviews in between. Also, it is cool to see them so young, mainly David Gilmour, trying to be some kind of a philosopher. Cool tape! Thanks Jack, for the wonderful gift!
After I moved to the States, I became a big U2 fan. It all started when I was living in Pasadena and my wife was working in Hollywood. We had a bunch of good friends there who had some U2 cds. I borrowed a couple of them and got really hooked on their music. Today I think I have most of their stuff and I really like to hear their music. Bono has a wonderful voice, The Edge plays the most beautiful guitar. The group is excellent! For me their best album is the "Joshua Tree." It is a great piece of art indeed. Lately I am happy to see Bono's advocacy of the problems of famine and AIDS in Africa. He is living up what he believes and I think all Christians and non-Christians should listen to what he is trying to convey both in his music and in his actions. He is in the front cover of Christianity Today, March 2003, with the headline saying, "Bono's American Prayer: The world's biggest rock star calls the church to fight Africa's AIDS epidemic." CT is an Evangelical magazine with wide circulation in the English-speaking world. I had the privelege of going to their "Vertigo" Concert in Seattle last year and appreciate Bono's challenge to get involved in helping end poverty in Africa; he has become a true statesman for that cause.
My worldview received a great impact from the international music, mainly the American and British ones. Along with the Brazilian and the Evangelical music, it plays an important rôle on my way of thinking.
© copyright 2003-2006 Ehud M. Garcia, Ph.D.