A couple of days ago, I was driving in the morning to work and heard Brett Saunders, a local radio DJ on KBCO talking about how the Talking Heads album Remain in Light was probably one of the best of all time.
The reason? Well, it truly is a great album. Saunders said on the air that everybody has their best-of-all-time albums, because of the memories they associate with them.
To anyone out there who still believes that art doesn’t influence a culture greatly, think again. Throughout time, there has been so much proof that art can make a huge influence on culture, and it does matter.
Think back to the ’60s and the influence the decade had in changing societal structures and thoughts. Each generation of music listeners has the ability to feel the same power with what their own generation creates. It’s a timeless sort of thing that resets itself with each peer group.
It is for that very reason that I’ve never appreciated when someone older makes statements about how music will never truly have the power it did when they were young. Or, on the equal but opposite side, when someone makes the blanket statement that music means nothing; that it is just a little more complex than static noise.
On Saturday night, I got to attend the final tour for one of my favorite bands of all time, Anberlin, on its Denver at Summit Music Hall. It was an emotional show for me because over the last 10 years, the band has influenced me. Anberlin has released some of the best albums of all time, if to nobody else (and for a sold-out crowd, it’s clear that wasn’t the case) they had to me.
And it was truly because of the memories associated with them, which for me covered everything from middle school, to graduating high school, to starting college, to graduating college — and all of the memories, for better or for worse, that fell in between.
But probably the most powerful was the memories accumulated during the middle-school years when I discovered them. As a kid far from cool with few friends, music was almost a comfort to me. It was a good reminder that everything is OK in the end, a good reminder for a kid as awkward as I was. And to be honest, still totally am.
I grew up in a private school that discouraged music to the point where they made me sign a contract stating that I wouldn’t listen to any “worldly, secular, or rock music, which included Christian rock.” So it made it almost a rebellious display of badassery to listen to rock music. And for a nerdy kid, that only made music better. Listening was a form of resistance against the establishment.
Listening in those early years turned into learning and playing guitar, which lead to joining a band, all the while still listening to everything… obsessively.
And finally all of that lead to me wanting to write about music. In the best and worst moments, music was and has been there for me, and the band Anberlin was a big part of it all.
Leaving that show, though I was sad that it was the end of Anberlin, I felt encouraged seeing where my life has been in the years they have been rocking it together. And I felt nothing but encouragement.
As they leave, music will carry on and we will continue to be inspired by music. We will continue to find the “best albums ever.” In a sense, music is the soundtrack that defines us.
So listeners, keep listening, and artists, keep creating, because on both sides, it means something.
Caleb Dennis writes “The Scene” for Colorado Daily every Thursday. Follow him: Twitter.com/TheWriterCalebD.