My world in six songs, part one: friendship.
Daniel Levitin's most recent book, The World in Six Songs, describes his theory that music is core to being human, and how six types of songs enabled the social bonding necessary for human culture and society to evolve. These song-types are: friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge, and love.
Levitin is a neuroscientist, so the book goes far deeper than mere musing. In my opinion, he convincingly argues that evolution rewarded the "musical brain", showing how musical ability could be a crucial advantage as we came up from the muck and then down from the trees. Good stuff.
After reading the book, I got to wondering: what is my world in six songs? What song do I equate most with friendship, with joy and so on? In the coming days I will do my best to answer for all six, but I confess, there is no way I will be able to identify only one song for each song-type. Is a limit of five okay? Hope so. (I know, I should do six, but lists are arbitrary, so I'm going with an arbitrary number.)
First up, friendship, which is what the book opens with. Levitin initially focuses on battle and how a group of early humans bonded in song could overcome a group that was not. Those with song had a beat and some sounds, most likely, that served to coordinate efforts and make them more fearsome sounding than they maybe really were. Not having ever been in battle – even in sports really – I can’t speak from any personal experience from this perspective. But, obviously, there have been times when music has affected me and whatever posse I happened to be riding with at the time. So, without further ado, here are my songs of friendship, the songs that get me ready to grab my club and go after a mammoth.
Bad Moon Rising, by Creedence Clearwater Revival, because the opening three chords are the musical equivalent of the word GO.
Jumpin Jack Flash, by the Rolling Stones, especially the Ya Ya’s version, because I have personally witnessed the opening riff of this tune get more people more excited more faster than anything else.
Ride of the Valkyries, by some lunatic named Wagner, because I saw this scene in Apocalypse Now…
The Star Spangled Banner, by Francis Scott Key, because despite its unsingable melody, awkward lyrics and lack of a any groove whatsoever, the Banner packs a lot of emotional wallop.
Alright Now, by Free, because for better or for worse this song is THE RALLY song of my generation.
Well, that’s it. As with every other list I’ve ever made, this one feels incomplete, not as good as it could be, and I am convinced I have forgotten a critical song or two. So, I reserve the right to make a few changes down the road!
Next up, joy.