I came across a blog tonight that highlighted music of 1969. How many memories it stirred of Dennis! I truly believe that Dennis’ favorite 3 things in the world were music, LSD and me. When the three were combined — WOW.
Dennis loved to share his musical tastes. Such a bland phrase “musical tastes” more like: passions, binges, crushes, glorifications, investigations, pilgrimages, meditations, indulgences, ingestions, love-making, diatribes, expositions, lessons, worship, dissections, lectures, adoration, appreciation, and yearnings.
I remember the first day I went to his house alone to visit when we were teenagers. Usually I was part of a group or with my then boyfriend Peter who was Dennis’ best friend. But one weekday I cut school alone and went to see him, on request. I think he thought he better get to know Peter’s girl. We smoked some pot and he sat me down in the best spot in the room to hear the stereo mix and played records for me all afternoon.
He’d put on a favorite and tell me what I was going to hear — he could point to the place in the room from which the sound would come, separate the elements of each instrument — even each note — from the wall of sound of psychedelic rock and roll and explain why a given riff or hook worked. It was fascinating. I’d grown up on the classics — both Sinatra and Bach-type classics — but never had I experienced this odd mixture of passion and analysis.
The culmination was an album I think of Al Kooper and some other musicians — Super Sessions? Anyway, he played what was forever labeled by me as the Airplane Song. A soaring blues/rock blend of guitar and bass and whatever, that used effects that made the sound move around the room and roar and dip and just take you out of yourself into these amazing viscerally experienced explosions of the essence of music-ness.
I was transported. I’d never experienced anything like it — to me music’s key was the lyrics and the play of lyrics and melody, the interplay of both with counterpoints, harmonies, etc. This wall of sound that moved and shook its way into my vitals was something so alien. Emotion without context. Power without reason. I felt I would have been lost without this strange long-haired, geeky hipster guide.
He stayed my musical guide and interpreter for 40 years and showed me more beautiful ways to experience and appreciate sound than I could have imagined. I learned the language of music, the jargon of recordings and the culture of rock and roll. He was a master appreciator of the artistry of recording sound and using it to move and change the heart and mind.
Thanks, Dennis, for all that music.