Just listening

I don’t like some of the lyrics and messages in album American Teen by Khalid (but I do like some), but I listen to it because it is good production quality. A bottom line for me rating something is what it’s saying and if it jells, but if that does not work, appreciating something for its production is why I may listen.

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How to enjoy the album

There may be a period of music splurge then the everyday disciplining of one’s self where music does not factor.

However, the best way to listen to music, I think, at least as a thought or theory, is to listen to music in measure, to take out an album from one’s collection and enjoy it only on occasion.

To get the most out of it, enjoy the album once in a while.

 

Should there have been The Road to Hell?

Pop folkster Chris Rea’s The Road to Hell caused at least one person to ruffle his feathers. “Don’t listen to it,” he said.

I know why. It’s in the title. He probably hadn’t listened to the album himself, but he took an educated guess. The Road to Hell would be song after song of abject depression that bogged one down. I bet that’s what he thought. It’s the only explanation I could find for rejecting the album from the outset.

I listened to it again today because it was Chris Rea day at my listening post. I have five of his albums and I listened to two.

Rea, Chris (1)

Chris Rea (Pictured) in later years still playing riveting guitar.

 

Rea started in the business in 1978 and nabbed a Grammy-nomination with the song Fool (If You Think It’s Over). His debut was well-received then followed by many albums in workmanlike fashion over five decades.

One of those other albums was Water Sign (1983), gentle, easy listening and occasionally rock-filled. Sometimes it rose above a general steadiness and laid-backed sound.

Six years later out came The Road to Hell (1989) which was Rea’s most ambitious of the decade.

It is an epic album of riveting guitar moments and ideas about the state of the world and where we are going. Will the world find the exit from the path of destruction?

There’s a song about the “evil” television news and then one about finding the rainbow and the album ends on the note ‘Tell me there’s heaven’. No doubt evidence that The Road to Hell isn’t thoughtless AC/DC.

Back to the original question: should there have been The Road to Hell? To answer that question, one has to ask why this is a question. And ask what purpose does the album serve?

The album is a problem because there’s a natural reluctance to embrace an album about hell on earth and the everlasting hell. But I think many potential listeners to The Road to Hell aren’t embracing hell by listening to this album.

They are seeing what Rea sees, a world that’s gone to the dogs and if what we do on earth will have eternal consequences.  Are we all destined for eternal hell since hellish destruction marks much of the earth? Where’s heaven?

Heaven seems to be the great secret that hell on earth covers up. The Road to Hell takes us to the point of needing heaven in a world going to hell.

Hence it serves a purpose—one may just find a better reason to live because of finding the heavenly—and done in an original and bold manner that rivets the ears in place.

My response: Better one. Experience generally positive, virtue okay to good.

The Joshua Tree

Comment on The Joshua Tree—hmm, maybe I am too hard on it—but at another time in my life I admired it as a rare spiritually-themed album and it resonated with me. Do I now miss something about this unique album?

It meant more to me then than it seems to do now. I took this album on the road with me as I went on a sort-of “quest”, a spiritual quest really, trying to drain the spirituality I thought was in the album into my soul.

What were those spiritual themes?

The album began with Where the Streets Have No Name, an obvious metaphor I think for spiritual enlightenment that breaks downs the walls that hold one inside. For me, it came with substance and meaning, though put so simply, and a beautifully produced recording.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, another beautiful recoding, was so obviously spiritual. A person on a search or quest and trying to connect resonated. Even when he believed, there was a need for more closing down of the walls that held him inside. Even believers need to daily die to self and find Christ at the end.

In my previous review of The Joshua Tree I missed the theme of connection, to find one’s centering, one’s middle or sense of life and being from which their life flows. Seeing this theme now changes a view I have of the album today.

With or Without You—reminded me of being with or without God—but how? That question summed up my quest. How would I find what I was looking for, if God was present or absent?

Bullet the Blue Sky evoked the atrocities of war and shining a light on it. The blue sky doesn’t deserve the slings and arrows of violence and we are still searching for peace even though blue skies signify tranquility.

And on the songs went…the first four admittedly being my favorites.

Later in life, I thought that having my quest fulfilled negated the theme of quest at the center of The Joshua Tree and made it weak. In a way it does. But there is a knowing what the album is about and how this was expressed resonantly. One can’t deny it.

There is also a need to look again at it with new eyes. The Joshua Tree is a symbol for the Cross, the cross that Jesus died on, the life of Christ sacrificing himself for others. The Joshua Tree is also about a quest. Bring these themes together and it is a quest to daily die to self and make the world a better place.

My response: Experience positive and negative, virtue depends on how one reads into it, which can be positive and negative.