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Reading biographies of famous musicians has become a part of my musical education and ear training program.
Why? Well, when musicians talk about their lives they inevitably talk about their musical influences and it is always interesting and sometimes surprising who they choose to cite and the genres of music that shaped their musical life journey.
In the past reading about musical influences meant you ended up with references to a bunch of song titles, album titles, music genres and names of other musicians you might or might not have heard of or listened to before. If you wanted to hear what you were reading about you might have to spend time and money to track down and buy the music.
But Youtube and the instant free access to recorded music on the internet has changed the playing field completely. Nowadays, you can use Youtube to add a listening experience that enhances the enjoyment of reading music biographies. You can easily make a playlist based on the music referenced in the book and instantly let your ear enjoy the world of sound suggested by the world of the printed word.
Recently, I read Eric Clapton’s autobiography, in which he mentions an early influential guitar solo that ‘took his breath away’ in a song called ‘I Love A Woman’ recorded by blues guitarist Freddie King. Always ready to risk shortage of breath for ‘earth-shattering’ solos I search on Youtube to see if this 1961 recording has been uploaded. Yes! Thanks to ‘althazarr’ who has uploaded 1,911 videos I get to listen to and appreciate the early crackling vinyl blues sounds that gave Eric the ‘shivers’.