A couple of weeks ago, one of our more extraordinary staff members Jason Blevins wrote an interesting piece about how Bob Dylan changed his life. While I myself am not a Dylan fan (but that’s okay!), I could relate with music changing my life.
The challenge for me was deciding exactly which album to choose. Some albums were anthems for my youth. Other albums opened my mind to other worlds of musical expression. Still others didn’t resonate with me until years after they were released. There are even individual songs that on some level may have saved my life.
Instead, I chose an album that I am extremely certain that none of those reading this piece have previously heard. In 1987, I was heading toward my senior year of high school. My tastes in music straddled both the popular and more alternative realms. It was comprised of whatever caught my ear on the radio or MTV. However, this album was brought to my attention, not through any of those means, but because my mother went to a school bazaar one day. At this bazaar, a music teacher from a local high school by the name of Patrick Loomis was selling cassettes of his most recent piano album, “True to the Journey.”
My mother liked it, so she bought a copy. Curious, I took it to my bedroom and gave it a listen. It wasn’t edgy, poppy, or anything that should have spoken to me as a 17-year-old high school boy.
Mr. Loomis reached me, though. The music spoke to me in ways that no other music did, and over thirty years later, I honestly don’t know why. I can’t even say that it magically transformed me into an aficionado of piano music, really. Yet somehow, this musician’s gift spoke to me personally in such a profound way that, to this day, it is one of my favorite listens.
The learning moment that I carried away from this experience, and one that I hope that you the reader take from this as well, is to take time to explore new music that is both inside and outside of your usual musical wheelhouse. Let Spotify, Pandora – or whatever service you use – random play into new territory. Start with a song that you like, and start a station of music similar. When it doesn’t wander far enough, do it again with another track. Eventually, you will find songs, albums, artists, or full-on genres that move you like nothing you’ve heard before. And when you do, keep exploring. Choose new paths. Go down different rabbit holes.
Experience new things. The old favorites will still be there when you return, but maybe, just possibly, you will find your own Patrick Loomis.