Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sweet Summer Sun Screening

I still cannot believe that I won! 

This week, I happened to be one of the lucky few fans to attend the premiere private screening of Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live, the new Rolling Stones concert film. When I entered the contest last week, I figured there’s no way I’d win. I never win anything. But on Monday morning I received an email congratulating me. I had no idea how truly lucky I was until we arrived at Universal Music in Santa Monica, CA on Tuesday night.

When we walked into the lobby, only a handful of people were waiting to get into the theater. I thought it was some sort of mistake, imagining that the Bob Marley Room would be packed with herds of other lucky fans. Instead, we found an intimate conference room set up with a large screen and comfortable office chairs. The winning fans, only 12 of us, had reserved seating in the front rows. The rest of the 50 or so people were members of the press and the marketing departments from Eagle Rock Entertainment and various other entertainment entities.

There was food and alcohol, but I was too nervous to eat and swigged a glass of wine instead.  At first I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t get over how fortunate I was to be sitting in a room filled with VIPs. Once the movie started, I relaxed in my front row seat and watched as the camera panned over the enormous audience at Hyde Park. It was amazing! The camera work alone was spectacular and the audio quality was incredible. It was really cool to see a Stones concert from all the different perspectives, including the bands’ POV.

The screening only lasted about an hour. They didn't show the whole 2½ hour film, instead selecting a few scenes. The most notable song of the night was “Midnight Rambler.” If you were lucky enough to recently see the Stones live, you know how mind-blowing it was to hear Mick Taylor join the band to play this masterpiece. It was just as powerful watching it all over again. I suggest you buy Sweet Summer Sun when it is released on November 12th. You won’t regret it.

I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to see the entire film. Until on the way out, when I received my very own Blue Ray copy!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Favorite Songs

The other day I was out for a run when a Stones song came on over my headphones. This isn't earth-shattering news since I have many Rolling Stones songs on my playlist and chances are that at least a few will pop up. Predictable as it is, I’ll pick up my pace, run a little harder, and feel all-around more energized when I hear "Jumping Jack Flash" or "Honky Tonk Woman." I've listened to these songs for most of my life, yet they never fail to excite me. And it’s not just when I’m exercising. Hearing "Waiting on a Friend" play over the car radio always puts a smile on my face.

Why do we never grow tired of the songs we love? I asked seasoned musician and professor of psychology Dr. Kevin Volkan about this phenomenon. He said something that surprised me: “Research has shown that the emotions triggered by loved music tend to be negative. We listen to a favorite song and it reminds us of when we were lonely." This made sense to me since I’ve known people that have experienced painful break-ups. They said sad songs made them feel less alone. Other people have survived heartbreak and written songs to express their grief. In Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, author Steve Almond calls these songs “depression songs.” He says that listening to a sad song allows us to access repressed feelings. “They articulate a preexisting depression and, when they’re really cooking, they ennoble that depression." They help us appreciate situations that would otherwise make us miserable.

I don't consider my favorite Stones songs to be particularly sad. Instead, they invigorate me. They make me happy, and I assume much of my appreciation has to do with personal taste. In addition to our attraction to sad or depressive songs, Dr. Volkan adds, "Of course there are also aesthetic considerations. I think we can also listen to music just for the art." Beyond valuing our favorite songs for the way they make us feel is the pure joy the music or song itself offers – the way Keith Richards strums the guitar intro to “Waiting on a Friend,” followed by the beautiful, melodic sound of a piano as Mick Jagger sings the opening sounds, “doo-doo-doo doo-doo-doo da-do.”

I’ve often wondered why I don’t become desensitized to these favorite songs that I’ve heard over and over again. Perhaps the brain triggers something physical when we listen to them. As any pseudo-researcher would, I turned to Google. Instead of scientific data, I found dozens of personal playlists,“10 Songs I Never Get Tired of” and the like. One of my favorite programs on Los Angeles public radio station KCRW is the guest DJ project where people, mostly in the entertainment field, discuss songs that “move and inspire” them. Each list is unique and the reasons for loving them as diverse as the celebrity DJs themselves. In the end, it really does seem to come down to individual tastes.

Whether my response is an emotional or physiological one, every time on turn on my music and hit shuffle, I hope it lands on one of my favorites.