Records My Parents Played

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Prompt is all about music. Specifically, the music you had while growing up and how it influenced you. This is going to sound bizarre, but I was raised with an eclectic mix of R & B, soul, pop, disco, rock, easy listening, and show tunes. No, seriously. My parents had wildly different tastes in music – probably not a factor in their divorce when I was two – so I got to hear something new depending on who was watching me. Neither were around much, but they gave me full access to their record and cassette collections. My mother’s vinyl library was small, but it had some of the greats. She used to sing along to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Vanessa Williams, and Dionne Warwick. Looking back, it makes a lot of sense; my mother was part of a church choir growing up, so it’s no wonder she loved listening to those powerful voices. I’m pretty sure she considered I Will Survive her personal theme song. She was also an avid Michael Jackson fan, and had at least a couple of Earth, Wind & Fire albums. She also had a great love for more traditional singers like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole. She had a cassette of oldies that stayed in her car for well over a decade.

I didn’t spend nearly as much time with my father (every other weekend at most) but I could tell he was more a straightforward rock fan. Not the stuff from the 80s onward, but mostly songs from the 60s and 70s. He got me hooked on Elton John, The Beatles, The Eagles, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, and several others. I’ve always been kind of curious about learning the guitar, and I think it’s because I listened to Hotel California and Fire And Rain so many times as a kid. He also made sure I listened to classical music as well; I’m pretty sure I was the only sixth grader in my class who knew O Fortuna and Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 by name. It probably helped that I asked about the Looney Tunes background music countless times…Dad was also a big theater geek, so he had me listen to the entire Phantom of the Opera soundtrack, specifically the one with Sarah Brightman as Christine. He even took me to see the play when I was in the 8th grade. He also had the taped version of the Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert, complete with the legendary 17 Valjean encore!

Wow, I’m actually geeking out over all this.

Needless to say, such variety had a huge influence over my musical tastes. Even to this day, I prefer songs with guitars, pianos, or strings. Santana, Hendrix, and Clapton are mainstays on my playlists. The genre doesn’t matter, though; I can rock out to DiDuLa’s Arabica, Seals and Crofts’s Summer Breeze, and Oasis’s Champagne Supernova depending on my mood. A considerable portion of my library is dedicated to older rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, and many others; I’ve listened to Kashmir and Under Pressure more times than I’d care to admit. I’ve got a soft spot for somber ballads, too; Andy Duguid’s Don’t Belong, Simply Red’s Home, and Fastball’s Out Of My Head are practically essential for my evening commutes. Wichita Lineman is still the loneliest song I’ve ever heard. Mel Torme’s version of Stardust comes pretty close, though. I wonder if my liking those songs is a reflection of musical taste, or just an emotional state.

Oh, and fun fact: I may have all these songs completely memorized in my head, but I can’t sing them. My voice is too soft. How’s that for irony?

The Importance Of Karma

Hey, folks. Today’s Daily Post is all about karma. Basically, what would you do if karma was scientifically proven to be real? That’s actually a really interesting question; how would our lives – if not society as a whole – change if we knew that our actions and decisions would directly affect our futures? Though it’d be much more beneficial and fulfilling in the long run, I’d hesitate to say that all the results would be good. See, the thing about people is that we’re…well, we’re people. We as humans aren’t capable of perfection. Not everyone’s ambitions and goals are altruistic, either. There’s a huge gray area when it comes to motivation and morality; what happens if someone uses positive karma to gain power or control, only to reveal themselves as a despot? Does anything change if such individuals genuinely believe their efforts are morally correct? What about guys like Jean Valjean? Is he going to suffer negative karma because he stole a loaf of bread (and thus part of someone’s livelihood), even though he did so to keep his family from starving? What about mercy killings?

Not so easy, is it?

As for me, I’d act mostly the same. I’ve come to discover in recent years that karma, while not scientifically proven, definitely exists on some level. How we treat each other – and ourselves, for that matter – can come back to haunt or bless us in unexpected ways. As much as we all like to think evil is cool and awesome, it doesn’t pan out very well for anyone in real life. If you treat people poorly, you have to constantly be wary of betrayals, vengeance, manipulation, and even physical violence. Assuming that anyone actually wants to have anything to do with you. It’s stressful and lonely. You might rule with an iron fist and have vast luxury, but that won’t necessarily make you happy or satisfied. Look at Louis XVI; he really lived like a king…and then the French Revolution happened.

Not fun.

Instead, I’d approach karma much like I do with Nietzsche’s views on existential nihilism. Basically, life is meaningless. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; we’re given the opportunity to create our own meaning. And since we’re all stuck in this together, then why not help each other make it better? Doing so is in your best interest, too. You can’t really develop yourself as a person – and thus become an Übermensch – unless you learn, help, and interact on some level with others. Karma is similar in that regard; we gain it by improving the lives of ourselves and others. Kindness doesn’t make you weak; if anything, you need strength – mentally, emotionally, physically, or any other form – to help people. That doesn’t mean you have to be all cheery, outgoing, and instantly agree with everything and everyone. You’d end up losing your part of your individuality. Rather, you should develop your own views, but remain respectful of others. I mean, I can be an incredibly icy, sarcastic pessimist and prefer books to being social, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to help others. I’d like to think that such actions are part of what makes this whole debacle called life worth living.

What do you think?