Coming home for the summer to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, I have come to realize three things. One, that as much as I complained about the cold, windy days up in Boston, anything is better than experiencing 90 percent humidity. No one should have to go through that.
Two, being unemployed actually earns you a lot of charity points! I had no idea that someone would actually offer to pay me to scan documents into a computer. But really, as much as I would love to have some money in my pocket, I can’t say that I mind having hours upon hours to pursue some of the finer things in life, such as restocking my iTunes library, watching whole seasons of Arrested Development in one sitting, and driving my twelve-year-old white minivan.
Which brings me to my third and most important realization – I HATE THE RADIO. With a stereo system as ancient as mine, which chews up and spits out CDs with a fiery rage and refuses to recognize an iPod, I’ve learned to embrace my fate and turn to the radio. I prepared accordingly, setting my ten possible shortcuts to a variety of stations to give me the highest probability of finding something that I like at any given moment.
Little did I know that not even the ten radio stations could save me from my unthinkable doom – a summer of driving around with nothing to listen to.
You may think I’m exaggerating, but I assure you that the following reactions to this situation, which all occured in the same day, are real, necessary, and a bit disturbing:
“Whose idea was it to play P!nk’s new song on three different stations at the same time?”
“I’m convinced that some people think that The Lumineers only have one song…”
“I’d rather have my hand bitten off by a loose seal than have to listen to Pitbull.”
The point is, the radio receives way too much credit for showcasing the 'best of the best' in the music industry and, frankly, many people accept that. Granted, not everyone has the time, interest, or energy to pursue music outside of what is presented to them on mainstream music sources like the radio and iTunes Top 100. Luckily for those people, I have plenty of time to kill, so your days of thinking that Taylor Swift’s “22” is the best song of the year are over.
For those who are interested in a musical education, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll be showcasing a new band or artist every week, typically ones that are a bit more off the music industry’s radar. And, in true teacher fashion, I’m looking forward to learning from students as well, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to contact me!
Lesson #1: Give folk a chance.
As a native of central Pennsylvania, where hick and country-bumpkin stereotypes abound, I’ve been avoiding folk music for years in some sick, twisted attempt to prove that Pennsylvania is more than just farm shows and truck stops. That was until I discovered the Tallest Man on Earth.
The Tallest Man on Earth is the stage name for Kristian Matsson, a Swedish singer-songwriter who since his debut in 2006 has released three full-length albums and two EPs. Classified as having a folk style, the Tallest Man on Earth can be likened to the sound of Bob Dylan. His music is extremely raw, focusing more on the vocals and simple guitar, in which he uses a number of open tunings.
What really got me about his music are his vocals. True to folk style, his voice is extremely pure and untouched by studio effects. He’s got that kind of voice that threatens to blow out your speakers at times. If one blows, trust me it's so worth it.
It’s rare these days to find genuinely great voices, especially with the capabilities of autotune and the like which can turn any casual shower singer into a pop icon. It’s that gravel in Matsson's throat that makes listeners believe every word he’s singing, on top of his already poetic and pastoral lyrics.
Some of my favorite songs by him include “The Gardner,” "King of Spain," and “The Wild Hunt,” all of which clearly showcase his immense talent, his simplistic, easy style, and most importantly, evidence that folk as a genre is worth a listen. Or a hundred.
If you’re unemployed like I am, or will just have no idea what to do with the shocking and absurd amount of free time that you have on your hands this summer, you’ll have plenty of time to indulge in one of the best artists in folk music, and one of the tallest (Metaphorically, of course. He’s actually 5’7’’). Check out the Tallest Man on Earth on iTunes, Grooveshark, Soundcloud, Spotify, or Youtube!
All screenshots and featured photo by Mary Yuengert/Gavel Media.