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THE MORNING BUZZ: Pump Up the Volume – While We Still Can

1 Jul, 2002 By: Jessica Wolf

Music is a powerful thing. It can be like a scent that reminds you of your childhood, or a person or place you loved. It inspires creation, emotion and memory. This is what music and my favorite musicians have always done for me.

Last week at the DVD Entertainment Group and Video Store Magazine's DVD at 5 conference, a DVD-Audio expert said something that stuck in my head.

He talked about how DVD has completely reawakened and reenergized a nearly dead genre of video — music video. In VHS-format only, sales of music video titles were all but on life support before DVD, he commented.

For most of us, there is a limit to the number of times we can watch a movie in a given time period, even our all-time favorites. But it takes a lot longer to get sick of listening to your favorite album. For me music DVDs, especially ones with concert footage, are a treat. I don't watch them as often as I may listen to the group's albums, but I pop one in whenever I want to see an old friend.

I particularly love my Pearl Jam: Touring Band DVD. There's this beautiful deaf girl on stage performing sign language for the words to “Given to Fly” and I get a lump in my throat every time I watch and see how into the music she is, she sings along and dances as she signs, her eyes are closed and her head is thrown back….it's pure enjoyment of the music even though she can't hear it. When Eddie Vedder walks over at the end of the song and wraps his arms around her, she's startled and pleased at the same time and it's just an awesome, genuine moment. Every time I think about it, it makes me so glad that someone captured that moment on video.

It also reminds me of Pearl Jam concerts I've been to, when it seems like Vedder personally reaches out and touches you with a few words in between the songs that have come to mean so much to so many people (though there are a lot of people out there who won't admit they're still fans, personally I'm holding true to my “grunge” principles). Any video with footage of Kurt Cobain also makes me tear up and want to listen to In Utero over and over.

This past weekend, my music DVDs of choice were The Who Live at the Royal Albert Concert Hall and the Who's Next making-of-the-album video, both of which I've watched many times before.

This time, my eyes kept searching out John Entwistle and I kept thinking about the first time I heard “Baba O'Riley,” or “Behind Blue Eyes.” My dad was the first person to interest me in The Who and over the years I've silently thanked him and the handful of friends and boyfriends who have helped instill the love of this band in me. I've never seen them live in concert and now I am wondering if I ever will. Even if I do, it won't be the same. Daltrey and Townshend, must feel as though they've lost a family member, and rock music has lost a virtuoso of a bassist.

As I was watching the concert on DVD, I thought how glad I am that we have all this footage, these lasting memories. With the loss of George Harrison and now Entwistle, it is becoming clear that some of the musicians of generations before me that I have loved as much as my own generation's stars may not be around for my kids to experience firsthand.

Stars burn out, especially rock stars, and as sad as it is to see ones who burn out young, like Cobain, it's almost harder to see them fade. Can you imagine the loss to the music world when Mick Jagger goes? Or Paul McCartney? Can you imagine a world without the Beatles or the Stones or The Who?

I can't. And thanks to music DVD, at least in a way, none of us will ever have to live in such a world.

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