Why I Write About Music

Quarter-Life Enlightenment is not a music blog, and yet I’ve written about music several times since starting the site last year. I suspect this will not change, and for good reason.

Quarter-Life Enlightenment is about inner peace, and for me, music is a huge source of happiness, comfort, and contentment.

But it wasn’t always. I didn’t grow up in a particularly musical household; no one in my family played an instrument. My discovery of music was actually quite gradual.

The albums I remember growing up with were my dad’s old copies of Queen’s Greatest Hits I & II and Tom Petty & the Heartbreaker’s Greatest Hits. I remember sneaking them up to my room so I could listen on my CD player. I wore out those records, and I still play them regularly.

Perusing my dad’s collection quickly taught me that I enjoyed music, but it wasn’t until later that I began to learn the importance of good music.

In 2002, when I was fifteen years old, I came home to find my dad playing Dave Matthews Band’s Listener Supported through our home entertainment system. I didn’t know who Dave Matthews was, but that DVD knocked me on my ass. I loved the carpeted stage and purple lights. I loved that there was a violin and a saxophone. I loved the dancing and the pretty girls in the audience. And I loved the music. It sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before.

I was particularly entranced by a moment in the song “Rapunzel”, when Stefan Lessard, DMB’s then-25-year-old bass player, played an amazing fill during the song’s climactic chorus. He was playing some huge green guitar, and I wanted to be just like him. It was also while watching that concert that I first noticed the bass, when it kicks in on “Rhyme & Reason”. I fell in love with it.

Around the same time, I reached an important milestone in any boy’s life: the moment when he decides he wants to be in a band. In my case, my friend Keith, who had been playing guitar for several years, conveniently told me I should buy a bass and join his band, also known as him and a couple of other guys we knew. My parents, being thrilled at my interest in something other than Game Boy and Super Nintendo, bought me a $200 jewel blue Ibanez and a practice amp for Christmas that year. I haven’t put it down since.

When you’re a kid who’s just picked up an instrument, what you want more than anything is to be able to play along with your favorite songs. And so I set to learning the entire Dave Matthews Band catalog, starting with “What Would You Say” — in retrospect, an excellent place to start. I listened to that song nonstop trying to figure out how to play it. Even when mowing my neighbor’s lawn with my headphones on, I imagined myself rocking out onstage and playing that sultry bass slide right after the guitar break at 2:35.

Say what you will about Dave Matthews Band, but they were the first band I became completely obsessed with, and subsequently, they were the first band that showed me the value of music beyond “Oh, I like that song on the radio.” Many other bands would follow, but Dave Matthews Band was the true genesis of my musical education.

For the past ten years, I’ve been in love with music. It uplifts me, challenges me, and comforts me. It keeps me up at night because I’d rather keep listening than go to sleep. My basses are at once a source of joy and therapy. Rarely does a day go by where I don’t pick one up and play for at least a few minutes. I’m constantly looking out for amazing music I haven’t yet discovered, and when I find some, it always makes my day.

Aldous Huxley said:

Next to silence, that which expresses the inexpressible is music.

That’s exactly why music is such an important part of Quarter-Life Enlightenment. I hope you feel the same way.

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