Episode 09 A Chat About the Power of Music with Rutgers University Professor and Director Steve Miller

Photo of black headphones with the words "Eat Sleep Breathe Music Podcast Episode 09: A Chat About the Power of Music with Rutgers University Professor and Director Steve Miller

Episode 09 A Chat About the Power of Music with Rutgers University Professor and Director Steve Miller

Today on the podcast I am chatting with Steve Miller, not the space cowboy, but the Rutgers University professor and director of media studies. Listen in to learn what makes music so special to Professor Miller.

Show Notes and Full Show Transcript

Music Intro

Hey eveyone welcome to the podcast. 

Jeanette: Do you want to introduce yourself?

Professor Miller: Let’s start with the first thing. Hi, Steve Miller, I’m your fomer professor.

I’m director of Undergraduate Studes for the Rutgers University Department of Journalism and Media Studies. But one of the things that  I teach is Television and Broadcast Journalism but also I’m on the Radio Counsel for WRSU FM Radio.

Which is the college radio station and just a music junkie. One of the things that got me when we first started communicating about this was that whole title about eat sleep breathe music and that’s what it’s about.

Jeanette: Yeah! I’m getting chills just talking about it. Haha.

Professor Miller: Right but that’s what this whole thing is about. This podcast and it’s what it should be about. This is what I wrote to you about. Because everybody marches to a tune and beat in their head.

Their whole lives have a rhythym to it just like a song. The songs that we sing. The songs that we feel, and the music that’s in our heads just continuously change based on our mood. There are some mornings we wake up. 

Like my daughter’s love this and my wife loves this. My wive’s mother used to wake up my daughters singing “O It’s a Beautfiful Morning” from the musical Oklahoma.

Jeanette: Aw.

Professor Miller: She was a terrible singer. And she passed away in 2017 but my daughters will tell you one of their greatest memories is grandma coming in and singing to them.

Jeanette: Aw. That’s so nice

Professor Miller: That’s what it’s about. Its how you feel at that point. It is going “am I in a Chicago mood?” “Does anyone know what time it is, does anybody really care.”

Are we in a contemplative mood. Like “In My Life” by the Beatles. “There are places I remeember all my life, some of change, some forever, no for better.” 

Is it a day when we want a Led Zeppelin tune in our heads. Where it’s “dddr” (imitage guitar). You know “a lot of love.” 

Jeanette: Hehe

Professor Miller. Or “Stairway to heaven” or is it a day when you know, and I’ve shared this with you. When my daughter got married I wrote the lyrics to the song that we danced to. And how do you feel about that.

And that’s what we do. Whether we realize it or not. And yes you hear this thing about how we march to a beat of a different drummer that type of thing. That’s a different drummer every day and whther we know it or not music is the backbone and the soundtrack of our lives.

It’s something we should all be talking about. It is something we should be experiencing. It’s something that we should all be getting a hold of. Especially you know you were talking to me before about oh this is what I’m doing during the pandemic. 

Well this is the times when we really need music the most. 

Jeanette: So true

Steve Miller: To keep us in line. To keep us real. Whether we realize it or not we do this all the time. I’ll give you an example. When I was a undergraduat at Rutgers before I would take an exam, a big exam. I would get nervous. I would put on my headphones and listen to a song called “For a Dancer” by Jackson Brown. 

And what I would do is focus in on the fiddle in it. But it’s not your usually fiddle with the honky tonk break down or “rocky mountain” breakdown like that. It’s this nice soothing almost violin like fiddle to it. And you listen to it and what I found is it becomes like meditation.

Jeanette: yeah

Professor Miller: That if you focus in on one instrument or one beat it’s like in a meditation when you’re focusing in on your breathing. 

Jeanette: Definately

Professor Miller: And it would calm me down. It would get me focused. This is also why if you watch or read interviews with ballplayers. Oh I lsten to such and such a thing to get me psyched up. Or relief pitchers in baseball will come into “Enter Sandman” by Metallica. 

Jeanette: mmhmm. Yeah

Professor Miller: It’s gonna get me pysched up. And yeah people do that. So that’s what…to me when you said Eat Sleep breathe Music. That’s what it’s about.

Jeanette: yeah, totally. I mean I feel that same way. For as long as I remember I’ve always had music in my life. I think it had a lot to do with…I had 2 older sisters So I think  I was lucky that they had a musical influence on me. Cause I mean…who knows if I would have gotten into music as much. I remember going to a concert when I was 14 and that was life changing. It’s amazing how much music can touch you. Just kind of like you change your mood, lift your spirit, help you when you’re in a pandemic. 

Professor Miller: I found that very interesting becuase I have an older brother and he really didn’t influence me with his music. In fact there were times when he would send me something and say “oh listen to this.” 

He loves Goverment Mule. This year he was so depressed becuase usually I think ever year on the 30th or 31st of December Goverment Mule’s playing in Philadelphia and he goes to the concert. Obviously this year he wasn’t able to do it.

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: I could tell  his mood changed. Also I haven’t really been able to see him during the pandemic.  I’ve seen him once in person and we had to keep a distance. You really can’t do anything and you say to yourself “wait, that’s my brother, why can’t I?” Well anyway.  

But he listens to that type of stuff. I used to say my influences were A, B, C, D, E, F. So he grew up. He’s 3 years older than me. By the way to show you how big an influence music is on my whole life this coming year I’m having my Seargent Pepper birthday. I’m gonna be 64. 

My point is I’m calling it my Seargent Pepper birthday. So I grew up at a time that everybody waxing nostaglic about in terms of music. 

Jeanette mmhmm

Professor Miller: I still remember being on a daycamp bus when we would change Beatles lyrics around becuase it was 1964 when the Beatles had just come out.  

I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in February 9th 1964. You know instead of “she’s just seventeen” we would sing “she was just 99 and she looked like Frankenstein.” You know that type of stuff.

Jeanette: Hahaha

Professor Miller:  You know how kids will do. I was listening to music all the way back then. I grew up with the Beatles, the Stones,  as you move forward. You remember sitting in my class and I would talk about AM radio and then all of a sudden free form FM came in in ’67. So that was my life.

I lived through it. Then we would get free form FM and we would get 18 minute songs like Iron Butterfly’s “In A Godda Davita.” and Tommy the Who. You talk about the Who. Then during the 70’s you had the Clash between the folk singers like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstandt. Then it went to LA California rock.The same time you had the hair bands like Bon Jovi. But LA California rock was started off with the Birds in ’64 then all the way to The Eagles and Pogo and things like that. That played a part in my life.

But it also influenced what I do today. This is what I get to lecture about. It’s fun it’s great

Jeanette: mmhmm. Yeah

Professor Miller:  The students today and even your class in your day which is not so long ago. And I get up there and say “yeah, this was a song “In a godda davita baby” (imiating Iron Butterfly).

Jeanette: hehe

Professor Miller: And their like “waht are you doing?” Then everyone says what do you think about music today and you talk about that. So you juxtapose it together.  It’s just, it’s a very interesting thing. 

But go back a minute. My grandfather was in vaudville. I don’t know if you remember that from the lecture. Cause that’s so long ago since you took it.

Jeanette: Yeah. It’s…

Profesor Miller: My grandfather was in vaudville.  He was a song plugger back.. He was born in 1891 so when he was old enough. The nineteen teens. What he would do. The way that it worked back then a writer would write a song for a publishing company and in order to sell it you had to go from artist to artist in person and get them to sing the song or go to a sheet music publisher to get them to publish it. Then people would buy the sheet music and play it on the piano because there was no radio.

Jeanette: oh wow

Professor Miller: There wasn’t until the 1920’s when radio really starting hitting. And it wasn’t until Sarnoff. Here comes the lecture again.

Jeanette: hehe

Professor Miller: Sarnoff in 1926 and Paley in 1927 created the broadcast network that you really had something to tak off. We have a picture of my grandfather with a guy name Rudy Valin who was the Frank Sinatra, Elvis Prestley, Beatles, Michael Jackson of the 1920’s. 

Jeanette: mmhmm

Professor Miller: He made his money singing but he didn’t have a microphone. If you remember the cheerleaders megaphones. 

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah

Professor Miller: Those big slender things. That was the microphone they used on stage.

Jeanette: Oh wow. haha.

Professor Miller: In addition, and that was also when 78 RPM records were coming out and people were doing that. Keep something in mind. We live in an age where technology had changed everything.

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: You grew up. In 2004 you got your first ipod. It killed the CD.

Jeanette: mmhmm

Professor Miller: Then you get MP3, MP4, and now everythign is streaming which killed the MP3 and so forth.

Jeanette mmhmm

Professor Miller: But things are changing very rapidly. Edison invented the first cylindar with “mary had a little lamb” in 1870’s. 

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: Records really didn’t come about until 20 to 25 years later. They were 78’s and then they didn’t have a real place to play them out to a mass audience until the 1920’s. So you’re talking 50 years. Here today, oh, wait, they just changed technology again.

Jeanette: Hehe

Professor Miller:  So my background isn’t just oh I love music. My background is I’ve got this from my grandfather who did that who’s cousin published “Tip-Toe Through the Tulips.” I don’t know if you ever heard that song?

Jeanette: No

Professor Miller: It was remade in 1968 as a novelty song by a guy named Tiny Tim. Who sang in a falsetto voice and was a sensation for about 5 minutes on the national scene. 

His cousin was in the music business. My grandfather was in vaudeville. Then he was a song plugger. Then he was a music publisher. Then he was a union rep. In fact, here on the wall if you see behind me I’ve got a picture with the 2 pictures with one thing under it. The thing udner it is my grandfather’s certificate from ASCAP. That he’s a lawywer, owner member of the American Association of Music Publishers and stuff.

Jeanette: Oh neat.

Professor Miller: Right. So this is the family business. That’s the business side. That’s the technology side and it’s something that we grew up with. I throw lyrics into everything I do. I quote things. My favortie all time show from TV is the Monkeys.

Jeanette: yeah, yeah.

Professor Miller: Again that is eat sleep breathe music.  

Jeanette: hehe, yeah, hehe

Professor Miller: I’ll give you one last thing. My granddauther is six weeks old and the last 2 wekeend’s I’ve been taking care of her. She’ll start crying and all I’ll have to do is pick her up and start singing her Hary Chapin songs to her. And it calms her down like crazy.

And so you pass the music along too.

Jeanette mmhmm, No, it’s great. It’s great to have music passed down.

Professor Miller: Yeah. And it’s different. The other thing. going back to what you do. It’s the genre of music you listen to. Not just the type. There’s some days I’m a Dixie Chicks type of mood. 

Jeanette: hehe, yeah

Professor Miller: Excuse me, Chicks type of mood. Sorry forgot. Old name. They are now The Chicks. 

Jeanette: Oh, hehe

Professor Miller: Right because they don’t want dixie associated. 

Jeanette: mmhmm

Professor Miller: Which is great. Their last album was really good. Sometimes I’m in that mood. Sometimes, I’m in a mood to listen to if I wanted to do a country or coutnry. 

Steve Martin, the comedian, has has some really good albums out and in fact he paired with. He had some good albums. He paired with, I’m blanking on her name but she’s Paul Simon’s wife. And she’s, it’s some really good stuff. In fact, and sometimes, I’m in a Crosby, Stills, and Nash mood. Sometimes I”m in a Beatles mood, a Monkeys mood. You know it’s just everything. And it’s, it’s just like the days in the phase of the moon. 

Uhm, Edie Brickell sorry. These are all really good things. And it’s just. It’s magic. It’s like you said before “I’m getting chills just listening to this.”

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: A really good song will give you chills. A really good song will bring you to a place in time. That is either wonderful or not. Music can get you through. When my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer he was in NY and I was in NJ back in 2003. What got me through was George Harrison’s album Brainwash. And also George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass.” 

You know, and these songs have meaning for you. And there’s nothing that can replace it. I will play Dan Folgelberg’s album Captured Angel and I’m back dating my first love.

Jeanette: Hehe

Professor Miller: Back in 1974 and 1975. There’s a magic to it and you can ride the notes. Ride the wave to that place in time and it can take you out of the curcumstances that you are in.

Jeanette: Yeah, no it’s so true. I had read this one book and name escapes me. It was really cool it was just talking about how music physically can affect the way the brain works. I think that’s also why.

You were talking before about the meditation aspect. I think that’s also why cause there’s a lot of the beats and the thing. It’s just amazing how music can really. Not really, yeah, really maybe a little bit hypnotize you and kind of help you shift your mind and focus and everyting. It’s great.

Professor Miller: Well it’s interesting and it doesn’t have to have words. How many times have you seen those mind clearing what used to be called New Age. It’s not just music or music itself where there is just an instrument. It’s waterfalls.

Jeanette: mmhmm

Professor Miler: It’s just certain. The sound of waves. But that in of itself has a rhythm. Keep in mind your heart has a rhythm. Your heat has a beat. 

Jeanette: mmmhhmm

Professor Miler: People who are hearing impaired don’t hear music.

Jeanette: They feel it.

Professor Miler: But if you get them on the dancefloor they can feel the beat from the speakers coming through the floor and get the rhythm and the vibrations and there is music to that too. 

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah

Professor Miler: It’s. There’s a magic. The only word I can say is magic.

Jeanette: Yeah, definately

Professor Miler: I don’t mean the song from 1975 “Oh, Oh, it’s magic”

Jeanette: haha

Professor Miler: Or the song “Do you believe in Magic” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. There is a magic to music. Even if it’s bad music. 

Jeanette: yeah

Professor Miler: That just envelops you, envelops your mind, envelops your heart, envelops your soul. And makes your toes tingle and your fingers.. I just wan to hear the beat. Everytime I hear the beat. When you see it you go “boom boom boom boom boom”

Jeanette: hehe

Professor Miler: I get this rhythm in my head and when you write. Whatever it is you write, you get a rhythm and you get a rhythm going. It’s music and its music encompases everything. 

Jeanette: It definately does. What do you like. Do you find you get drawn more to melodies or lyrics. What do you listen to more when you listen to music? Do you listen to everything or is there one that you pay more attention to?

Professor Miler: I usually I love listening to lyrics. I write lyrics. There a way to express. Lyrics are a great way to rid yourself of problems. I remember when I first got married back in 1984 we moved up to Boston and my wife had to  travel a lot for her job so I remember writing things about it. 

I don’t care what you say

I just can’t make it alone

I don’t want to go on if I must stay here on my own

But the days are long and my nights are cold

And my bed feels like a jail

I can’t take the pain 

I can’t take it anymore

Right. Or I was feeling. The woman I was dating before I met my wife. It ended badly in a way. I remember writing this

It’s so sad to see how time changes

Bt things occured that you don’t expect and the things. And the things. What was it? 

The things you’ve knew take another course. 

Of course the candle in the window’s burned out. 

The light upon the table it dim

And the beat of my heart can’t be heard anymore over the sound of your voice. 

Which doesn’t leave me any choice

No, it doesn’t leave me any choice but the door.

Right. So you end up writing these things. The lyrics come out and one of the things that gotten lost in an era with electronic instruments. I’m not saying electronic music. Where there are groups that now use machines instead of drummers.

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miler: They use. Instead of using. Because of expenses you don’t hire orchestra’s anymore they use synthesized music. 

Jeanette: mmmhuh

Professor Miler: Also, with an over emphasize on volume on songs. Lyrics seems to have gotten lost a lot of times. Lyrics with a lot of meaning. And it’s you know this, it’s the lyrics that really hit you are the ones that really touch your soul. You could have a beautiful melody and that will touch your soul too. 

But a lyric and I guess it also comes from why I’m in journalism. And you know I do video and if you go back when you were in television reporting. I had you watch all those shows and I said “what’s more important to you? Is it the video or the voiceover, the words. The video?”

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah

Professor Miler:  Most people in this generation will say video. It’s the video. And even though I’m a video guy and a video persion. Videographer and do television. To me it’s the words because a picture could pain a 1,000 words but the qeustion is what are those words

Jeanette: mmhmm, Yeah

Professor Miller: So you have to have. So I’ve always been that way. And it’s you know how can you beat. you know Lennon McCartney lyric or you know something that has meaning to you. So you know just pick almost any song you know say one from the Beatles.

I said it in my life before. There are places I remember all my life, but some have changed, some foreever not, some for better, some are gone but some remain.  I mean.

Jeanette: Yeah, hehe

Professor Miller: How can you beat that? It’s just amazing how it all touches your soul. Sometimes and in fact at this point in my life most times I love things stripped down. 

To just a guitar or piano and the lyric. So if you hear there used to be the MTV unplugged. 

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah

Professor Miller: And I miss those. So if you listen to “Layla” you know the song by Derek and the Dominos

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah

Professor Miller: Right and you hear bmmr wailll (imitaging guitar)

Jeanette: hehe

Professor Miller: But then you listen to it to the MTV unplugged and it’s a much different tune and it’s much more understandable lyric. And it’s just got a nicer backbeat. 

The other thing that’s also interesting is when you hear somebody doing something different than you expect them to or playing an instrument you don’t expect them to.

I mentioned George Harrison’s album “Brainwashed.” Now everybody knows George Harrison from  the Beatles and playing electric guitars and especially his very distinctive slide guitar. But his main instrument on Brainwash is the ukelale.

Jeanette: Oh?!

Professor Miller: So in 19, when he was doing this he played a song on there called “The Devil in Deep Blue Sea” which was written by a guy named Harold Arlin.  It’s got that old type of sound. You know behind it. You know almost that 30’s, 40’s sound. You know you almost expect him to be like Rudy Vallée going “I Still Love you” (imitating Rudy Vallée). 

Jeanette: hehe

Professor Miller: That type of thing. He’s got a tuba on it But you hear the ukelule. That lead me to remember that Harold Arlin also wrote a song called “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

Jeanette: Oh?

Professor Miller: Now the interesting thing I discovered since then that I should have known is  Arlin wrote “Somewhere over the Rainbow” about what was going on in the Holocaust. He was Jewish. It’s his thing about you know. He had escaped from Germany.

Jeanette mmhmm

Professor Miller: So “Somwhere over the rainbow. Skies are blue.” And if you listen to the lyrics that’s what it’s about. 

Jeanette: Oh wow!

Professor Miller: It’s about escaping the Holocaust and what was going on in Europe. If you google it online after we’re done. Just look at that. 

Jeanette: I’ll have to check it out

And he’s the guy who wrote this. And George Harrison’s doing a song by Harold Arlin. So in 2003 while he’s has cancer. It just goes through all this stuff. And Ok, but that’s what.. Again going back to what music’s about. 

You know I mentioned I wrote this song for my daughter for her wedding. And I shared that with you. And you know. It’s such a momentus occasion how do you write it? It just came to me that you know. You know what. An image of her and the music was written by one of our alumns another former student and his music writing partner. 

And they did some stuff with it. I was very fortunate in that he first recorded it and didn’t like it and had some friends in Nashville and sent it down there and they re-recorded a lot of it  the studio down there with a singer from down there. And we were able to use it at the wedding and suprise her at the wedding. 

But again it’s a way of expressing yourself. Way of getting  it out.

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: You know. One last thing. You asked me lyrics and that. How many people do you know that just write journals. They keep diaries.

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah

Professor Miller: People keep journals. 

Jeanette mmhmm

Professor Miller: Most times you think of a 12 year old and you’re keeping a diary.

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: But think about what you know people put in those journals. And what’s the difference between that and writing lyrics to express yourself?

Jeanette: Yeah, it’s the same thing.

Professor Miller: Cause that’s what I used to do. In fact I took creative writing when I was in college. I still have the book. And she said to keep a diary and in the diary and instead of writing out most of the stuff in prose. I would write it out in lyrics. 

Jeanette: Cool

Professor Miller:  And its no different from writing poetry. Look at the woman who was magnificent at the inaugaration. What she expressed. What are some of the songs that are coming out that people are using to experss themselves? 

You know and think about the lyrics. You know Bob Dylan won the Noble Prize for literature for his lyrics. 

Jeanette mmhhmm

Professor Miller:  Music, lyrics, songs, why do they construct songs in that way? Why do they put the trumpet there or you know can you really make a guitar sound like it’s a crying baby? Yes you can.

Jeanette: Hehe

Professor Miller: It’s funny there are only 8 notes. It’s what you do with them that matters:

Jeantte: Hehe

Professor Miller: And it’s funny. I”ll give you an example. How music iinfluences different people in different ways. Some people, it’s funny some artists are impactful on you. Some aren’t. 

I got to college in 1975. That’s exactly the time “Born to Run” came out. And all these people all over the place to this day. All these people I went to college with are like “oh Springsteen’s great.” Springsteen never got to me. I’m one of the few people from NJ I guess. 

Jeanette: Hehe

Professor Miller: I’m like yeah so what.  To me again. This might sound anathema. It me his chords are same. Are just 1,4,5 chords like everybody else they are very simple. 

I thought before “Born to Run” his music was better because of David Sanchez on the piano. I thought he was better for that then after that to me all the hits become redundant and commercial. It sounds the same all the time. 

Where as I think the other thing that effected me. I was a dylan guy. 

Jeanette: mmhhmm

Professor Miller: People were saying oh Springsteen is the new Dylan. I was like “no way.” 

Jeanette: Hehehe

Professor Miller: But you know again with Dylan. Look waht somebody did back in the 60’s with simple 1, 4, 5 chords but the lyrics were magnificient. Most people would say on both Springsteen and Dylan their voices aren’t that good. 

Jeanette: mmhhmm

Professor Miller: But now we’ve come to accept it. And infact you know around that time. That a lot of people who had bad voices. A lot of men specifically. Cause of misoginism in the industry you can’t have a woman with a bad voice.

Jeanette: mmhhmm

Professor Miller: But you have Dylan, You have Springsteen, but you also have a guy named Steve Forbert who really had a, I thought he had a terrible voice. He had this one song and he went (imitating Steve Forbert). Bob Seeger never had that strong of a voice either but the lyrics in the song carried it. 

You can say the same thing for Springsteen. In fact, I like Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes  better than I liked Springsteen becasue I thought Southside Johnny’s voice was magnificent. 

Then again that’s taste, that’s music and that’s the way people  are. You know, what is it that draws people to songs? What it is music? It’s time, it’s place. It’s how you get touched in their soul. 

Jeanette: Exactly.

Professor Miller: When you grew up in the 90s or 2000’s. My daughter is 33 and I’ll never forget her. When she really started finding out about music. There were certain songs and certain groups that she was listening to.

I think you’re probably. When you were 10 or 11. You graduated what year again? 

Jeanette: College or High school?

Professor Miller: College

Jeanette: Uh 2004.

Professor Miller: Okay 2004. Alright so you grew up in the 90’s. 

Jeanette: Yeah, yeah

Professor Miller: So you’re a pre-boy band era. 

Jeanette: Yeah, well, I mean. I kind of. There was New Kids on the Block. I feel like I grew up. That was another boy band. We were haha obessed with so.

Professor Miller: Yeah, right. So we have to blame you for Marky Mark. Anyway but you had that. And New Edition was the other one.

Jeanette: Yeah, they were like pre, they were like. I feel liek they were the godfathers of the boy bands.

Professor Miller: Right, right. So you had all these groups. All these boy bands and things like that. But that you. You grew up at at time of Alanis Morissette. 

Jeanette: mmmhmm, yup.

Professor Miller: And green day

Jeanette: Nirvana and Pearl Jam all those.

Professor Miller: Right. And Eddie Vedder (imitating Edie Vedder)

Jeanette: Haha

Professor Miller:  So you had all that type of music. So that’s what influences you. That’s also it’s post Nirvana. Right.

Jeanette: mmhmm

Professor Miller: Because Cobain had passed away by that point.

Jeanette: Yeah, I think I was in middle school.

Professor Miller: So Foo Fighers has just started out and been in business for 25 years. 

Jeanette: Wow.

Professor Miller:  Now we can see that real. Yeah. That the real power behind Nirvana was really Dave Grohl. 

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: Again. That’s what hit you at that time. But if you go back. I’m trying to think about what calm songs were out. What was on top 40. Why was it that you listening to Z100 and top 40 or were you listening to alt rock. 

Jeanette: mmhhmm

Professor Miller: The way. What you listen to know impacts that. Cause music is forever. What a lot of people find is what you were listening to. Why is. You probably go “Mom, dad, why are you still listening to Bobby Goldsboro sing “Honey” from 1968.

Jeanette: hehe

Professor Miller: “And why did you force me to listen to a song called ‘Horse with No Name’?” 

Jeanette: hahah

Professor Miller: That’s becuase the music. You know and grandma and grandpa were listening to Better Goodman or Elivis or Bing Crosby or whatever. Because that’s forever. But that’s what music is.

Jeanette Yeah.

Professor Miller: It’s wonderful. 

Jeanette: It’s interesting too how some people don’t get into music.They don’t see it the same way

Professor Miller: I think a lot of that’s similar to everything else. Why is it you get two people, two children in the same family one’s into sports, one’s not? 

Jeanette: True

Professor Miller: One’s into music. One’s not. 

Jeanette: Yeah.

Professor Miller:  One’s into politics. One’s not. It’s place time. Everything. My brother is 3 years older than me. He went through experiences I did not go through. He lived a life that is different from mine. 

Jeanette: mmhmm

Professor Miller: So he will remember things that I don’t. So it’s a matter of what’s the environment your in, who you hang out with. You may also been hanging out with people who are into music. They may not be. Their parents. What type of home life do they have.

It always appalled me and it shouldn’t appal me but did that there were people who were told you’re not allowed to listen to music in your house. Because their parents, because of their upbringing, there are certan religions that don’t belief in music. 

Jeanette: Yeah.

Professor Miller: That it’s the devil’s workshop. 

Jeanette: Yup

Professor Miller: I remember. Look I remember being 8 years old. Or 9 years old around the time that John Lennon said that the Beatles are more popular than Jesus.

Jeanette: haha

Professor Miller: And people burning their records

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: And people crushing their records downsouth and I never. I never understood that. But then again I had this influence in my life.

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: My mother grew up in a very political home. My father had the background with his father being in vaudeville. And here I am I am the amalgam. 

You know my father. I’ll go back to sports. My father was a Brooklyn Dodger fan. His father was a Yankee fan and my mother’s father was a NY Giant baseball fan. So I had. They were battling while I was growing up about those teams. 

So you had that. Now you can see who I am cause you and I have had billons of conversations over the years back when you were in school

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller:  About this stuff. But you get formed by the world around you and there are many people who don’t listen to music because of whatever reason and that’s fine but I will argue to them that they too have a musical rhythm to their lives that just isn’t conscious of the music that they are interested in.

Jeanette: I like that that thought of it. I never thought about that in that way. I think you just  see what you’re into and you you’re into music. Not that it’s weird not being into music but it’s just different. You know?

Professor Miller: Yeah it’s funny whether we realize it or not we all operate in a vacuum. 

Jeanette mmhhm

Professor Miller: It’s you know. Ok, I, you know I don’t understand for example how my son is not into sports. It’s like “you gotta be into sports.”

Jeanette: hahaha

Professor Miller:  He’s a comic collector. 

Jeanette: Ok

Professor Miller: Aside from his job. He loves Marvel. He loves DC. He loves all that. But every body’s got their own thing. 

Ok you and I. Ok, I’ll give you another song lyric written by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. Became a hit for Linda Ronstadt and Stone Poneys in 1967. 

“You and I march to a beat of a different drum

Oh, can’t you tell by the way I run 

Every time you make eyes at me? Whoa”

But it’s you and I march to a beat of a different drum. We all march to the beat of a different drum. The question is do we want everybody in the same drum lock and step. My answer is no.

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: Because we don’t march to the same drummer that is why you can get Beyonce, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Nicks, Beatles, Bon Jovi, Springsteen. Think about all the different singers who are out there. 

I mean. I admire rap music and rap music is a descendant of talking blues from the 1920s and 30’s which means a descent of Robert Johnson and all those people. 

And even whether they realize it or not Bob Dylan did talking blues from the folk circuit. I don’t listen to rap music but that’s why you have it. It’s becuase there are people back then who did talking blues. 

Dylan did a song called “Bob’s Dylans 115 Creek” which starts out with him talking. And you’re like “wait, what’s he doing?”

Jeanette: Hehe

Professor Miller: But then he starts singing it. But you end up with that stuff. But that what makes the world a wonderfully diverse place. You have diverse tastes in music. Each generation has their own touch stone. You can go. As I said before it’s Ruddy Vallee in the 20’s, Sinatra in the 40’s, Elvis in the 50’s, Bing Crosby in the 30’s, Beatles in the 60’s, Michael Jackson in the 80’s. 

You know boy bands, and so on. The sensations that people. Oh yes, I still have on my desk my dresser right now. My sister gave me these Beatles flags. Little flags with pictures of the Beatles. 

I was seven when they got. When they hit the America. And I was 13 when they broke up. But they are in my life. The Monkees, The Monkees lasted for 2 and a half years on TV. But they can still. The two surviving ones Mike and Mickey. Every time they come around I go see them. 

Jeanette: Yeah

Professor Miller: Why? Because of “I’m a Believer” and “a Pleasant Valley Sunday.” I can do their songs backwards, up and down.

Just like if Pearl Jam comes around. You’re there.

Jeanette: Yeah, no, it’s true

Professor Miller: That’s why. It’s there it’s engraved. It’s in your heart. It’s in your soul. It’s everything you do. Right now behind you I got my itunes with my 3,000 , 4,000 songs on there

Jeanette: Hehe

Professor Miller: You know its. Every one in awhile something new comes out and I buy that something new. But it’s there. I mean. I can rap on this all day and talk about this all day. It’s mean. It’s who I am. 

It’s you. It’s who you are.

Jeanette: Yeah. It’s a part of life. I don’t know. Does your wife share the music. The love of music.

Professor Miller: She doesn’t love it as much as I do. In fact we have soem disagreements. Cause she had Carpenters albums and Barry Manalow albums. 

Jeanette: Haha

Professor Miler: So it was a different type of music. I mean we come. We have a happy meeting at the hit 45’s and things like that. So yeah. 

Jeanette: That’s nice. It’s ways nice to share music with someone.

Professor Miller: Yeah it is. Anyway. Alright

Jeanette: Well thank you for coming on. This was a really great conversation.

Professor Miller: Oh it’s my pleasure. And please let’s do it again sometime soon and keep me in the loop on everything else. 

Jeanette: Yeah definately.

Professor Miller: Buh bye.

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