van halenFrom the day I first heard Edward Van Halen playing the opening notes of the song “5150” out of a 15-inch speaker in my best friend Michael Bell’s bedroom during my junior year of high school, I have been hooked on “hard”music. I like big, loud, electric guitars, driving bass lines, and drummers who make you thankful Ray and Cecilia Benner invented ear plugs back in 1962. I love highly-technical players, sloppy players, guys who use picks on their guitars, and guys who pluck the strings with their fingers. Some of it is smart, and some of it is dumb as all get-out, but something about it makes me happy inside.

Of course, my listening tastes venture far and wide, and even my definition of what is “hard” is probably different than, say, a death-metal fan’s. Regardless of definitions, though, much of the music I listen to does feature an edge to it that isn’t exactly pop. Lately, it seems I can’t get enough of guitar rock, endlessly trolling my iPod for the heaviest selections I can find. Living Colour, King’s X, Van Halen, Foo Fighters … anything I can crank up and rock out to.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I have this sudden fascination with the heavier side of my music collection, and I suppose I have a few theories. Having turned 42 last month, maybe I’m just trying to reconnect to my past a little bit and pay homage to the musical style that always meant so much to me. Maybe I’m an angrier person than I realized, and this type of music taps into that side of my emotions. Or perhaps I just have some sadistic wish to finish off what little bit of hearing I have left by assaulting my eardrums with as much loud music as possible.

What I actually believe, though, has more to do with sorting out this current season of life I am in than anything else. I believe my current taste in music has a lot to do with the way I feel at the moment – flat, broken, sad, and, yes, even a little angry. It’s as if I need a jolt of something to get my attention and make me feel alive. Maybe one day I’ll begin enjoying piano ballads and folk-rock again, but for now I need the hard stuff to get me through.

One group I have been late to the party in discovering has been Seether. I really couldn’t tell you much about the band itself, but I do know their song “Rise Above This” has taken on significant meaning in my life recently. “I’m fallen down, but I’ll rise above this.” I could go on analyzing lyrics and meanings, but I think what I will do instead is shut up, turn up, and let the music do the talking. Sometimes when you’re all talked out, that’s about all you can do.

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