What’s on your playlist?

Share Button

I feel old these days. I can really feel a sense of my life experience when I compare music with younger people. I have an eclectic taste in music and enjoy the great variety there is in the world.

I took a drive with some teenagers and was introduced to melodic songs by Imagine Dragons, The Weeknd and even Justin Bieber. I had a dose of hip hop and then a barrage of modern rap by the likes of DJ Khaled, Ugly God, Rae Sremmurd and Lil Uzi Vert. I found some common ground through electronic dance stuff like Daft Punk and classic rockers like Queen but all in all, I was completely lost. I had suspected my taste in music was outdated and during this drive, it was confirmed. I’ve lost touch with modern pop music.

I tried to share some of my playlist but almost felt embarrassed because my music probably sounded like I was introducing ancient recordings from a gramophone. Then I began to realize just how much my music tastes have varied over the years.

As a child growing up on the James Bay coast, the first music I can remember was my parents singing Catholic hymns in church. Mom sang high with the other women and dad had a low bass with the men. The sound of Cree lyrics sung to the melody of centuries-old Latin hymns is something that will stay with me forever. Every time I hear those old recordings, I immediately envision our old church filled with all our passed Elders, hunters, trappers and traditional people.

I grew up surrounded by old-time fiddle tunes. My uncles Gabriel and Leo played the fiddle and step danced. By the time I was a teen they had slowed down but there were a few occasions I witnessed their playing to the shouts, cries and dancing of community members. Now, whenever I hear songs like “Bread and Butter”, I laugh remembering the mischievous smiles of my uncles with fiddles under their chins.

At home, mom and dad had a collection of country-recording artists like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and George Jones. I listened to Hank Williams so much in those days that those lyrics are burned deep into my memory from tunes like “I Saw the Light”, “Kaw-liga” or “Jambalaya”. I enjoy listening to old country when I am working because it reminds of being with my family.

As a boy, much of my music was 1970s rock from groups like the Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Nazareth and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

There was also a period when I grew fascinated with classical music and opera. Listening to CBC radio late at night, I initially believed that the sounds of flutes, brass and strings were all made by people with really talented ways of using their voices. In regards to opera, I could not understand how the human voice could sound so amazing.

In the 1980s, my brothers and I liked big-hair metal bands like Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Megadeth, Motley Crue and Cinderella. We also had a hold-over to country with Blue Rodeo and Alabama and singers like Willie Nelson and Steve Earle. Bands like Guns n’ Roses, Metallica, Skid Row, Aerosmith, U2 and Poison remind me of my first years of high school. The early 1990s brought in dance, techno and hip hop. As I went into my later high school years, I listened to some rap and could appreciate the social angst of performers like Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, Coolio and NWA.

It wasn’t until later in life and after decades of censorship that I could appreciate and enjoy traditional drumming and singing. There is something powerful and heart moving in listening to a form of music that has been part of my people’s tradition and culture and played on the land for thousands of years.

Now my playlist is a strange mix of several decades of music from a variety of styles and genres including 1960s, Motown, rock, heavy metal, soft rock, rap, hip hop, pop, classical, opera, old country, new country and techno. I even have a few recordings of my parents singing old Catholic hymns.

I may be out of touch but I will never have a shortage of music to choose from and that helps to keep me sane.

Share Button

Comments are closed.