Of my student days, I often say that had I known what an ethnomusicologist was, I would have been one. But music has never been work for me. I am far from alone in feeling that sometimes – maybe often – music and literature have saved my life. Everything else has been a distraction.
The concept behind 366 Tunes is that if a tune a day doesn’t necessarily keep the blues away, at least it makes the best of them. (The idea of musical blues is comfort, after all, southern and otherwise.) My list assigns a recorded musical performance to each day of the year, not forgetting leap years, while providing details of the performance and some personalized, critical perspective on it, explaining why I chose it. The list is unavoidably subjective, a product of my background and age, but also of the facts that (1) I have listened to music obsessively from when I was in my mother’s belly (all her life she was a devotee of popular song, and her brother, with whom I always have been close, has made his career as a jazz musician and music teacher), and (2) I have played it, sung it, and written it for most of the time outside. Inevitably, 366 Tunes is by way of memoir.
While normally I would use “tune” to mean music without words – as compared to “song” – here I employ it to mean both instrumental and sung music. In this blog setting, I will not attempt to post material about a “tune” every day. Rather, I will post material as I write it for the book version of 366 Tunes: A Memoir in Music. If I end up writing about the Rolling Stones in November, say, that’s probably the time I will post a piece on “Beast of Burden,” excerpted from the Stones essay that song, never mind that the song is on the 366 list for September 15. As John Renbourn has been a strong presence in my life from adolescence on, I likely will write a single essay about some of his “tunes,” but probably will assign separate days – and separate blog posts – to each of them, “Bicycle Tune,” “The Pelican,” “Dery Miss Grsk,” and so on.
No matter the day, the writing and listening are “In the Mood,” after all. In other words, not only will the song of the day not necessarily match the day of posting, but the blog-posts for given days likely will vary widely in length. When I at last have a completed list of all 366 (my friends laugh that the day will never come), I will post it separately, with links to the blog postings for each tune.
For more of my writing on music, and for performances of my own music and occasionally the music of others, please visit my website’s Words & Music page: http://jeffreymiller.ca/words-music/