Fascinating! A city became a music capital because of Kevin Bacon! I’m half-joking. Since you know the title of this blog, you know the name of the city, no mystery here: Seattle. I should write: Seattle! With an exclamation point. Because, who knew?
Seattle in the 80’s was trying to kick rock music out of its city limits. For example, they were taking active measures to close clubs and concert venues. In the movie “Footloose”, rock music and dancing is being banned by a community. The flick was based on a few towns in Oklahoma who did just that.
The story goes that Seattle wanted to be a world-class city, like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. The underground music that was boiling at the time interfered with that pursuit. What’s really surprising was that even parents made a coalition called “Parents in arms” to end the musical seduction of the young people. They would work with journalist to vilified music and clubs. Then they started shutting down clubs. They even created laws to prevent new clubs from forming. You couldn’t advertise shows on telephone poles.
These last two paragraphs pretty much comes from a Ted Talk by James Keblas, a Seattle resident that explains with passion and humor (my kind of guy) how it unfolded.
I’ll stop quoting him now that you can find the talk yourself and I’ll speak about my opinion on the “evils” of rock music.
I am someone fortunate enough to have had two children. They are grown-ups now and we don’t play music anymore, but we used to. They started around 5 years old. They each played 4 instruments. We had a repertoire comprised of songs by The Beatles, Elton John, Katie Tunstall, Bob Marley, Jason Mraz, etc. The melodies were well crafted, the harmony simple but interesting, the rhythms diverse and entertaining. These songs enchanted their youth.
They did learn to put a show together, to memorize a repertoire, to polish up their skills on the instruments, to not be afraid of a crowd, to commit to a project and stick with it. But they learnt much more than that. They learnt to work as a team, to support each other, to treat each other with respect and understand the struggles that they were going through. They also learn to learn. Yes, learn to learn. What a concept! Learning is not a straight line. Sometimes you are going to rely on your visual memory, sometimes kinesthetic, sometimes audio, sometimes written, etc. And music certainly helped everywhere. If one was easily distracted, she learnt to focus. If the other was awkward socially, he was recognized and admired. Music helped them not to be afraid of life. There was no challenges they couldn’t tackle because they had a method or some methods to understand and master them. They grew up to be good citizens. I am very proud of the tools they developed.
I do not know if music made Seattle a world-class city. But we all know that it’s a music capital, an important destination for anyone interested in that noble art.