Volume 14 Number 4
Some years ago I had lunch with OCC's Public Affairs Director who told me she was hearing more and more county legislators referring to libraries as non-essential services which she found terribly upsetting. She thought librarians had to do more to let people know that libraries are vital and to help people see them as she does - the heart of every good community.
Let's face it, there are some things that you'd like people to know but it wouldn't help much to tell them. Sometimes the best you can do is to create an imaginative space where they can begin to figure it out for themselves. And in my mind there's no better way than a bit of dabbling in the arts to help enliven even the most dormant of imaginations and help us to see things in an altogether different light. And since I'm quite passionate about music I thought why not begin there...
"[An important] lesson the arts teach us is that the way something is formed matters."
It might help you to know that I've been collecting albums for the better part of 50 years. The Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man - for each person there is a first - was either the beginning of my record collection or pretty darn close to it. Previously I'd been collecting "singles" for I grew up during the heyday of the 45 rpm record. But in late 1965 things changed quite a bit when The Beatles released Rubber Soul. The prescient Brian Wilson, sensing a momentous change in direction, mused [paraphrasing alert], ~the songs on Rubber Soul all sound like they come from the same place as if they were connected in some unseen manner. I couldn't deal with it. It blew my mind. And I said I've got to do that. I've got to try that with the boys [the Beach Boys].~ And so he did on The Beach Boys' magnum opus Pet Sounds.
"Woody's [Guthrie] music got me. It went inside my heart and that's where it stayed. You hold onto these things." Bob Dylan
I'd like to think that most of us have encountered a particular piece of music that has struck the proverbial chord inside us, sideswiping our very psyche. And we know the intoxicating effect music can have on us - our hearts made easier and better in stunned reverence. For art is born of heart not head.
Since I've been fortunate to have had numerous such encounters over the years I began to consider ways in which to share them with the campus community that also would "count" towards my true aim: a subtle reminder that the library is bigger than anything we think it is. Those of you who know me, know that the question - how do I want to present the library? - always comes to the fore.
It was in this spirit that the "Albums That Shook the World" series was born. The series features albums with a "purpose" i.e., albums that transformed music's landscape, risked truth, encouraged the unorthodox, ignited imagination, opened possibilities, raised our collective consciousness, explored what it means to be truly human, and altered perceptions of what the world could be. It was my hope that each "chapter" might evoke both nostalgia and freshly relevant parallels between the past and the present, that it might shake us out of the complacency of "business as usual," and thereby kindle thought and reflection.
"Nothing stands between you and music except your ears and our ears are open whatever our minds may be." [Regrettably, I no longer recall where I discovered this although it might have been from a PBS documentary on music.]
The series debuted in spring 2005 with Bringing It All Back Home. I used film clips of Bob Dylan and the others involved in the making of the album to tell the stories behind it. This proved to be an auspicious beginning. The album "worked" well as a first chapter, the title worked as a metaphor, and, more importantly, I had found a way to tell the subsequent tales!
Since then there have been 13 additional chapters. You can see the entire list here. The highlight of the series had to be Frank Doble's whimsical volume 13 - Jimi Hendrix: Will I Live Tomorrow, an album that never existed. But if it had, it would most certainly have shaken the world.
I considered "discontinuing" the series after Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club [volume 14] simply because I thought I had reached the top of the mountain. It was, after all, the most influential album in rock music history. But then I heard the faint whisperings of other albums wanting "in," their voices and spirit still intact...
"Where the deepest word ends, there music begins..." Herman Melville (Pierre, or the Ambiguities)
So this year there will be four more chapters [and dare I say an unfolding of a charming interconnection and relation between them] added to the series:
This fall: The Beach Boys' Smile
And next spring: The Ramones' eponymous first album
Much as we would like to have you join us here at Coulter Library, I know that the chances are very slim that you will be able to attend any or all of what's "queued up." But even if you can't make it, find a copy of the albums and play on...