From All Around the World

After posting on Facebook that I needed some musical help in creating a Damn Fine Music Collection for my kids, the feed exploded – at least for me.  I’m used to getting between 0 and maybe 10 likes or comments on the things I post, but within hours, this feed had more comments and likes than I think all of my 2016 posts combined (minus of course when my wife tags me on her life and projects – she’s much cooler than me). 

This phenomenon has intrigued me the past few hours. 

Why was this post so much more popular than any other?  If I would have posted all the recommendations by myself, labeled it “The Best Damn Fine Music Collection,” and attached an intriguing picture (preferably one with light bursts in the upper right hand corner) would it have received as much attention?  Would friends from long ago or people whom I’ve never even met still have commented? 

I doubt it.  But why?

When Rize coffee shop in Midtown Manhattan started putting out two big glass tip jars with little chalkboards in front, asking Tape or vinyl?  Samsung or Apple?  Puppies or kittens? and myriads of other like juxtapositions, customers started tipping more.  Much more.  “Inadvertently,” Lulu Miller, the host of Invisibila states, “{the customers} seemed to have stumbled onto this powerful impulse which is written into people.  The urge to want to clearly differentiate themselves, declare their category.” 

Is that what was happening with my post?  Had people stumbled upon a powerful impulse to differentiate themselves and so took advantage and left a tip?

I don’t think so.  In fact, it seemed the complete opposite; there was a joy and excitement with connecting and collaborating for something bigger than their unique selves, that transcended above any one comment or opinion – the desire to join in on the creation of a damn fine music collection.

Sure, just as in normal coffee shop discussions, some people dominated the conversation with twice as many thoughts and opinions as others, but so what.  For the most part, they were the most qualified and thus able to make such recommendations as Ithzak Perlman . . . I doubt anyone else would have, and we’re all the better for it.  It didn’t seem like an assertion of differentiation.

But more importantly, and this is what stuck out to me the most, posting something that invited others in, that encouraged a musical discussion, suddenly had people conversing from all over the world and from all times of my life.

A friend from my elementary days was suddenly liking and commenting on a friend I met five years after high school, in Philadelphia.  A young man who lived with my wife and I when times were tough was interacting with a man I worked with in China and who now lives in Missouri.  A student from China who now lives in New Zealand related with my longest and dearest friend Eric Beard.  There were even people whom I have never met throwing in their thoughts as well, like eavesdroppers in an elevator.  And I loved it.  I loved the whole damn thing!  It was like making a mixed tape once more.  Remember those glorious days?  Sitting on the bedroom floor, pouring over CD's and tapes, trying to create the perfect order that would fill the side just right?

It was something like this:


During this process, this conversation, I loved being reminded of inside jokes that started in the back of a van on dirt roads in Kenya.  And I loved that a dear friend from high school bantered slightly with my wife even though they’ve never met but hopefully will someday.  And I loved that friends from Indian, Pennsylvania, and several others, friends whom I haven’t spoken to in years, suddenly popped up to join in on the conversation.  I loved being reminded of them.

I loved joining a friend and his parents on Lake George, New York, connecting with old students who are now scattered across the world, and seeing my brother recommend Garth Brooks because of course he would but it was still great to connect with him because I hardly ever do (and of course Garth Brooks hasn’t allowed his music on Spotify).

All this happened because people weren’t looking to assert their unique selves but to bond and share and create something great – and to help out an old friend, brother, or teacher.

Perhaps I’m taking this too deep, but I’m okay with that.  In a time when the promotion of self seems to be central, when the BIG ME seems to dominate our culture, I crave moments, even simple ones, where self-promotion and individuality is set aside for even a small glimpse of beautiful humility.

You may not enjoy every song, but there’s close to twenty hours of lyrical and musical conversation, close to twenty hours of humanity, and of musical genius.  You can’t listen to this playlist and not be inspired, encouraged, connected, or entertained by the grandeur and power of music – it’s pretty friggen awesome. 

I’ve complied all the songs that were recommended (some weren’t available), and you can listen to them here.

I’m not sure where your mind will travel to as you listen, but for me, I see the places I’ve been, the faces I’ve known, and all the roads and seas in-between.

Thank you all who contributed.  I truly do hope that one day our journeys will cross, but until then, we’ve got one hellova soundtrack to keep us company on the road, while the “Windows are rolled down, the sun is setting high, windows are rolled, I think it’s time for me to go.” – Amos Lee