Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Why I Fell In Love With Glee

When I was a kid, I needed music. I wanted to play music. I would listen to certain songs over and over again just to absorb the sounds. When I moved into adolescence, it was more about the lyrics. I defined myself with music, what I played, what I listened to spoke to who I was.

In high school, I was in the jazz band, the concert band, marching band, and small ensembles. Lyrics faded to the back and the vocals represented another instrument. I wasn't so much interested in what people were singing about, but rather the landscapes they painted with sound.

In college, I started out as a music major and quickly learned that I didn't want to study music. There wasn't any joy in the music department. It seemed like all the wacky and fun people I went through band with in high school went somewhere else and I was left with the humorless and the pale oblates that spent all their time alone in practice rooms.

I ended up leaving the music department and joining a much more joyous group of people in the Classical and Medieval Studies program, many of whom were fine musicians in their own right and all of them were ravenous music consumers. I joined the choir to keep involved in music. I did figure out somewhere along the line that I could use my voice to sing. Painful shyness in childhood always prevented me from trying. I grew out of that, though, thanks to the help of alcohol and a need to spread my wings.

Somewhere along the way between college and here, I forgot what music was all about. I've been in choirs here and there. I've done karaoke. I've played Rock Band and Sing Star. But music didn't have the same effect on me and I let it go.

It started to come back to me when American Idol burst onto the scene. I started to remember what it was all about. But then there was Glee. Here was a show that took music I was familiar with and integrated it into the story. And I began to hear the words again, which always escaped me in the past. I would listen to a song and could repeat the melody or even the guitar solo note for note. But ask me what the words are? No dice. Which is ironic since my work is words and I consider myself a writer.

I know how hard you struggle when you write lyrics or poems or even essays. And then to mesh it into music, it's quite an effort. But I couldn't get invested in lyrics at all. But with that first episode of Glee and the first few notes of "Don't Stop Believing," some hard shell cracked around my heart and I got it: The music and the lyrics. And I was moved hard.

It's still difficult for me to hear the words, especially if they are very emotional or manipulative. But if they are on Glee, I get it. It's a gift from the artists on that show. And because they cover songs from many different eras, I am often reintroduced to an old friend of a song that I never knew was so rich and wonderful. I am also open to new songs, their meanings made apparent by the gifted singers on the show.

I get that it's not everyone's cup of tea. But It's the way I take mine. And now you know why.


  1. Glee is the best thing to happen to Television since The Office. I just hope the slutty pics Lea Michelle took for GQ doesn't tarnish it.

  2. Flannery, as a six foot three inch ex-fireman, I also have to admit that I do like glee. On more than one occasion I have had something "in my eye" *cough*!!

    Regards, David.

  3. I have never watched Glee, and I have been resisting the pressure to do so (just being contrary, I guess). But you make a very convincing argument, I may just have to cave.

  4. "humorless and the pale oblates"... my god YES! you shoulda SEEN the looks I got when I practiced my bagpipes...

    we went to visit Palsberry @ his pad and he had taped a show where they did a Disney-esque remake of "Don't Stop Believing" that I was rather wowed by, so I can digg why you like that part. It's the story line and absurd characterizations I neither like nor understand...

    But I take my tea differently.

  5. I have been a member of a couple of different choral groups, and an a capella group, and it was some of the best times of my life.

  6. CP: I agree totally!

    David: It is very wonderful and I've bawled my eyes out watching it.

    Barbara: Cave! It's so worth it.

    Capn: The music is wonderful...and I love the drama myself. Diff'rent strokes, I guess.

    SD: Ooh! Any surviving recordings? I would love to hear you sing!