Daily Record 2/22/11: Symphony No. 2-Philip Glass

In 1990, classcal, mimimalism, Philip Glass on February 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I’ve got both a pop geek and an art geek living inside of  me. On my first Father’s Day, back in 1998, Donna and Jimmy satisfied both of those inner geeks: Jimmy gave me that latest edition of The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits and Donna gave me a recently-released CD that contained Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 2, Glass’ “Interlude” from Orphee and his Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra.

[Incidentally, if you want to get my combine art pop geek riled up, just play me Glass’ Low Symphony, which was inspired by David Bowie’s Low album.]

So, today’s Daily Record is that Father’s Day gift from back in ’98 and my brain really appreciates it. Because here’s the thing about Philip Glass’ music, at least to me: I’m not a student of his work, I’ve only heard a few hours out of the weeks and weeks worth of music he’s composed (Homer Simpson’s response to Marge’s acquisition of tickets to “An Evening with Philip Glass”: “Oh, just an evening.”) and I enjoy a good Philip Glass joke as much as the next guy. But something about his music is hot-wired to my brain.

When you think about it, usually we look for music that appeals to our hearts, our souls or our ears. Or, of course in some cases, our nether regions. But how often do we think, when we’re choosing something to listen to, “I want to hear some music that’s really going to simulate my brain.” Maybe about 15 years ago, we were buying Mozart CDs because someone convinced us that playing Amadeus (as opposed to “Rock Me Amadeus,” which would probably just annoy most newborns)  for our babies would “make them smart” but I believe those ideas have more to do with music marketing than they do with actual intelligence.

I’m not saying that listening to Philip Glass makes me brainier. And, like I said, I don’t actually know much or understand much about the background or underpinnings of Glass’ work.  However, for some reason, his music (and the music of Thelonious Monk, but no one else I can think of) seems to stimulate my brainwave activity in a very specific, yet unexplainable way. When I listen to the couple of Glass CDs I have, it’s almost as if I can feel the neurons firing away and finding innovative ways to scramble around my brain. It’s almost as if Glass’ Symphony No. 2 is a musical being that understands the way my brain works and can find ways to enhance my mental experience as it is playing in my ears.

You’d think, with all this brain stimulation, that I’d be able to explain the “Rich’s brain on Glass” phenomena, but in the end, maybe this is the only way I can describe it:  I don’t smoke, but if my brain, as an entity independent from my body did smoke, it would clearly enjoy a long, leisurely cigarette after each time it experiences Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 2.


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