Collecting, Knowing and Appreciating Music

by Ray Martinez – Unbridled Inspiration

When you stop collecting music. you stop caring about music. at least that’s how I see it. The second you can be happy with just an mp3…you’ve lost the magic. You’ve lost the appreciation for the artwork that helps tell the album’s story. You’ve lost so much of the music as a whole, because now all you have are the sounds. The record, when it’s sitting in front of you, is offering so much. It’s like taking the equivalent of a live performance and turning it into pictures and words. Not much beats holding the records, or cassettes, or CDs in your hand.”  –

As I am entering my 38th year as a professional DJ/Entertainer, I am embracing it with as much passion as I did when I started in 1974. I must admit that like most of us we all have our favorite genres that we specialize in. I could say that my specialties are Sinatra, the 70’s, Oldies, Old School R&B, and Motown.

I am making every effort in 2012 to try to increase my skills into the digital world as a DJ, but being Old School has it’s challenges. I have respectfully argued with many of my colleagues that by going digital as Derek stated above, you lose appreciation for music as a whole. I agree to a certain extent because I have felt you are no longer are a DJ, that you have basically become a computer programmer.

Many of my colleagues have argued with me that it makes it so much easier, and more compact to have a laptop than moving into a venue with a dozen milk crates full of vinyl records. Neither side is right or wrong, both have great points. My friends, I have good news for you, I am starting to see the light. I see both arguments from what I believe is a uniquely different perspective.

The bad news is, I have been going through the painstaking task of sorting out over 30,000 songs into my I-Tunes files, eliminating duplicates, putting in the proper genres, wow, what a task. It is actually a pain in the a$$. You guys and gals know exactly what I’m talking about. The good news is that although it is a lot of work, I am going through the top 100 Billboard Charts from 1947-2010, (63 years worth of music) and getting to appreciate every genre imaginable.

As I mentioned earlier, I have my favorite genres, but even though my strengths are the 70’s, I could not possibly hear and know every song that ever came out of that era. But some of the music that was the roots of Rock & Roll, was inspiring, interesting, funny, but most of all if you listen closely to many lyrics regardless of the year or genre, there is a reason why it has been said that “Music is an International Language.”

Based on what I have been hearing, I have a new appreciation for not only the music I play but more for the profession I represent as a DJ/Entertainer. I have had numerous conversations with fellow American Disc Jockey Hall of Fame Inductee, John Rozz of Sound Spectrum Entertainment in Wallingford, CT about how many DJs don’t appreciate music and how they get too comfortable by playing genres they are only familiar with. My friends, John Rozz is a Hall of Fame DJ for a reason…He not only knows music, but he appreciates it. By having appreciation for all genres, it makes you more rounded with knowledge and you are able to do any type of event, by expanding your horizons.

This experience of sorting out music has taken many hours, but man I am now more so than ever before in my career looking for many more different songs and genres to use at events that I may not have been familiar with. So friends and colleagues, just as going digital has been a challenge for this Old School DJ, may I present a challenge to you younger technology-type DJs. Don’t just program music based on what your audience wants to hear on a play list for any event, but add to your arsenal of music by listening to early music from the 40’s – 80’s  and see if you can start a folder of at least one or two songs a week that you may have never ever heard or played at an event, and play it and see the reaction you get from your audience. You’ll never know the smiles and memories you will generate for your audiences with songs they may have not heard in over 30 years.

In closing:

Remember to embrace and share the music, embrace and respect your profession, because you owe it to your audience.”

Let me leave you with a few songs to start your collection:

  • Stranger On The Shore – Acker Bilk
  • More – Bobby Darin
  • Beyond The Sea – George Benson
  • A Lady Like You – Glen Campbell (Great for wedding, either as a first dance or when bride is walking down the aisle)

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