The Spin Room…or: A Modern Day Search for Sonic Soul

spin1b.gifWhat kind of music will I review? Whatever my search has brought me to at the moment.






For my first column in the Northern Lights, I feel it may be appropriate to use this space to tell you, the reader, what I intend to do with The Spin Room and why you will forever see your life as nothing more than waiting for Thursday when the next one comes out in print.

I have spent my musical life searching for songs, albums and artists that move me. You might say I search for music that penetrates, and I know I’m not the only one.

When I speak about music that I find truly worthy of my searching, I qualify it as having soul. However, do not make the mistake of confusing my term of soul with the genre of soul music. James Brown was the godfather of soul, yes, because he sang soul music, but most importantly because of how he sang. The godfather has disciples in every genre, and I intend to use my ears to help you find them.

The Spin Room will be a musical endeavor to explore and shed new light on the definition of this term soul I’ve put forth. Do I have concrete knowledge of what music must have in order to have soul? No, I do not. What I can tell you is that it is not disposable, it does resonate, it is relevant, and it leaves us grateful that we heard it. Our lives are made richer and holier because of music with soul.

So what kind of music will I review? Whatever my search has brought me to at the moment. Jazz, punk, classical, classic rock, indie rock, new and old, and yes, even local music. I may look at entire works such as Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, the first two movements of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2, Pink Floyd’s singular The Great Gig in the Sky, or even your band’s album. I am interested in discovering contemporary music that enlightens our journey and refines our working definition of soul. However, I will not forsake music simply due to the fact that it is old. As it has been said, the wanderer curious about where they are going must first look at where they have been in order to understand where they are. Thus, understanding of the future can begin.

I won’t lie to you about how I feel about a particular piece of music. If I think it has soul, I will entreat you to listen to it. If I feel it is lacking soul, I will tell you to avoid it. Will my examination or advice be infalliable? Of course not. Will my mind occasionally change? Yes. I am reminded of my friend Tom who, years back, gave me a copy of Wilco’s 2004 album, A Ghost Is Born. At this point, I had just been introduced to Wilco and was a fan of their previous album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and was more than looking forward to their latest album. A Ghost Is Born, to be honest, did not speak to me. I found it indulgent and almost narcissistic. I wrote the album off and got into many a long discussion with Tom about its faults. After many a repeated listening and reflection on Tom’s insights, I fell in love with the album and find it to be the finest work the band has done.

Throughout this musical search for soul, I hope we will come to better understand and value what it is about music that turns us on, and off. I plan to listen to Wilco’s seventh and latest release, Wilco the Album, for next week. Let us hope it turns us on. | Andy Powell

This article was originally published in The Times-Standard.

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