Songs as Time Machines

SKF NOTE: Songs are time machines. In an instant (a heart beat?) a song can carry us back to faces and places, experiencing emotions, just as we did fifty years ago.

I was reminded of music’s mysterious power this weekend after buying and downloading guitarist Grant Green‘s album, Mellow Madness: The Original Jam Master Volume 3. The album title is deceptive. If you know nothing about Grant Green as an essential jazz guitarist you might think The Original Jam Master music has to do with hip-hop or rap.

It doesn’t.

The song that grabbed me is Cease The Bombing, which took me back to one gig at a Long Island, NY bar in the Hamptons. I was a year or two out of high school, playing drums and singing in one of many bands with my friend, Neil Ralph. The band had a bassist, pianist, Neil on guitar, a trumpet player, and a saxophonist.

Mostly in our bands we played blues tunes. Neil brought to this band Cease The Bombing. I don’t know why I liked the song so much. We played it true to the original. I’m not sure I ever heard Grant Green’s original album cut. Maybe. But I think I first heard Neil play the song at a band rehearsal where I developed a drumming framework.

Neither did I know the original drummer is Idris Muhammad. Had I heard this track back then, maybe I would have played the songs with sticks. But I used soft mallets on my wide open drums, with no muffling. And Cease became a drum feature, my interpretive solo with soft mallets.

Those post-high school years weren’t always easy for aspiring musicians trying to earn a living playing music. But I miss the camaraderie of those bands.

Maybe, overall, that’s the melancholy feeling reborn when I listen again to Grant Green’s Cease The Bombing.

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