I was recently inspired by a recent Simpson’s episode where Homer gains intelligence by improving his sloppy penmanship with a fountain pen. I poked around my own pen collection (yes, I have one) and chose to write this article for PCTV fandom with a cartridge fountain pen instead of the word processor or Word. I leave it to you dear readers to ascertain if my IQ increased by the end of this article. (I should get at least a 2 point increase as I will have to ‘re-type’ this for my editors.
Back to the music. I am sure there are medical or scientific reasons regarding the hemispheres of the brain, the various cortexes, and the hippocampus for how music inspires people. But here, I promise to be less scientific and more empiric.
A great part of the music that had inspired me is pop and the common denominator is the music I find inspiration in is often melodic, with lyrics that tend to be melancholic. Initially, I enjoyed music that had a martial quality to it – The theme from Rocky, “Gonna Fly Now", also known as "Theme from Rocky", is composed by Bill Conti, with lyrics by Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins, and performed by DeEtta West and Nelson Pigford. By a show of hands, who knew that? Music that inspired me often is associated with a visual image, or a film montage.
One of my favorite pieces of inspiration music along a similar vein as Gonna Fly Now is an instrumental piece of music from a Sam Peckinpah film. Peckinpah is one of my favorite directors. I can image Quentin Tarantino saying Sam was among his most influential filmmakers. I think I will Google that and see if my guess is correct.
The 1965 Peckinpah film Major Dundee was scored by the renowned and prolific film music composer Daniele Amiftheatrof (1901–1983). A well-respected conductor and composer, he arrived in the US in 1937 and became a citizen in 1944. Born in Russia, his education included studies with Wladimir Tscherbachev, Otto Respighi, and Jaroslav Krichka in the Conservatory and Pontifical Academy of Sacred Music of Vatican in Rome. This institution produced a surprisingly great number of Hollywood film composers. Must be something about the Vatican that inspires great film scores. Amiftheatrof wrote the Dundee March and its Mitch Miller and the Gang chorus made this the perfect song to inspire me to action.
What does “Gonna Fly” and the “March of Major Dundee” inspire in me? Again you think martial music, and for me it inspires me to tackle a difficult project, be it a paper to write or a request for the car keys or to ask a girl on a date. This music encourages me and gives me the gumption to ask.
As I evolved I replaced the type of songs that inspired me. I moved to folk (Carol King “Up on the Roof”, James Taylor “Sweet Baby James”), balladeers (Harry Chapin “Taxi”), singer songwriters (Yusef Islam “The First Cut is the Deepest”, Van Morrison “Crazy Love”) and the occasional power ballad single from a metal band (think Aerosmith “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, Poison “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” or Journey “Open Arms”).
As I evolved in my musical tastes, which includes music that I seek inspiration from, I am not so sure these collection of songs are not now mocked. It seems each new generation of music fans can find fault in past genres. Their power is probably in the eye of the beholder. By that I mean I don’t think most listeners think of these songs as inspirational music and there are probably plenty of good reasons to mock these songs as either derivative or uninteresting or whatever.
I still like the music I note above. I’m sure if we asked the Brain Scientists they would tell us about music memory, and how the melody, timbre and notes affect our pleasure centers. But as music marches on and forward I have also evolved in the music that inspires me. And I force myself to listen to music I normally wouldn’t embrace. Today, I am looking at R&B, Hip Hop and to a lesser extent Rap. And at this point in my life, I don’t need martial music to inspire me. I actually listen to music that will inspire me to seek new music.
My inspiration comes from finding new music. To that end, I am listening to SZA’s “The Weekend” and “Doves in The Wind” with Kendrick Lamar featured. I like Disturbed’s cover of “The Sound of Silence” for no reason other than it is an anthem for aspects of my life where it is now.
To close, what happened to the music that initially inspired me? It is still here, maybe less popular or due to a compelling cover it is restored to new acclaim. I actually find more inspiration in allowing myself to open my ears to other types of music and will continue the search. What music inspires you to move forward in your life?