Friday, July 16, 2010

"Close Encounters Of The Third Kind"

You know, they don't have to all be singles on the radio.

Some of the songs that you know by heart, that bring you back to a certain place and time, weren't experienced on a record player.

Though I would count "Close Encounters" among my all-time favorite films, I have to admit, it had been years since I'd really watched it. But it was on cable yesterday, and I can't believe a) how much it brought me back to the 70s, and b) how I really experienced it in a completely different way, as an adult.

That 5 note sequence. I can't recreate it in writing, but you know what I'm talking about. The Beep Beep beep boop boop, that appears throughout the movie.

Just those notes, are enough to take me back to The Brandt Theatre in my hometown, an old moviehouse, where our whole family would go out to see epics like "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" (or I would go with my grade school friends to see non-epics like "Candleshoe" or "Sasquatch!"). That theatre isn't there anymore, and I'm not sure that there's a unifying movie in the modern universe that could motivate all four members of my family to get out to a theatre.

The thing about "Close Encounters" that sailed over my head as a young boy, is practically my raison d'etre today.

Music as a universal language.

It's so simple, it's fucking brilliant. I was watching the movie, thinking, what a genius concept, that our first communication with extra-terrestrials would be through music. The scene below, though I've seen it dozens of times before, just knocked me out, again.

That sequence of 5 tones is recognizable to folks who speak French or Farsi, Swiss or Swahili. And so is "Let It Be" and the riff from "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

I can't say that "Close Encounters" put me on my musical path. But every day I write, and every day I listen, and every day I play songs on the radio, because I believe in the beauty and the power of music as communication.

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