The Roots of Accidental Music

In my last post, I explored the idea of accidental music – the serendipitous and random nature of a first encounter.   My first exposure to the music of Pat Metheny happened while browsing through a stack of LPs in a used record store some 25 years ago.  Without even having heard of the group, I purchased the LP American Garage just because I liked the album cover art.  Some 25 years later, I still love this band and the music on the LP.  I thought it would be interesting to detail other random encounters with some of my favorite music.   And as you read this, reflect on your own experiences;  no doubt, you have some interesting stories too about how you stumbled across some fantastic music.


A few years ago, I had the idea to to digitize all my CDs.  It’s much easier to do now, as you may know, than before – computers are so much faster these days and have enormous storage capacity.Stereolab Dots and Loops Anyway, before converting anything, I needed to decide on the best format:  MP3, AAC, OOG or WMA.  In the process, I went to many sites, all with a strong opinion as to the superior format, but I couldn’t tell any difference between the sound of a MP3 at 128 kbps and 192, or a WMA encoded at a bit rate of 64 kbps.    One site had an MP3 sample at 128 kbps and it sounded great – not the quality of the sound recording so much as the music – an incredible find.   It was a tune called “Miss Modular” from the Stereolab album  Dots and Loops.  What a find and I wasn’t even looking! By the way, I use Exact Audio Copy for ripping along with a LAME MP3 Encoder.

Johnny McLaughlin Electric Guitarist

I used to listen to a lot of guitar oriented bands when I was in high school – Yes, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and of course to some of the original guitar heroes –  Muddy Waters and Eric Clapton (my first concert ever), BB King, Carlos Santana and Jeff Beck.   johnny-mclaughlinI also used to buy Guitar Player magazine every month.  I don’t know why.  I didn’t own or play guitar.  Anyway, in 1978, I bought an issue with John McLaughlin on the cover.  I had never heard of him.  I read the feature article in which he was billed as the world’s fastest guitarist.  I hurried down to Peaches Records and Tapes and purchased his latest LP, Electric Guitarist.   The hippie who rung me up was impressed with my selection.  He said that there weren’t too many kids who had ever heard of John McLaughlin.  This place was a head shop.  I remember the glass display case over the register was full of bongs, pipes and rolling papers.  I got home, put it on my turntable and was absolutely floored by the sound.  To this day, Electric Guitarist is still one of my favorite albums.

Accidental Music

When I was a sophomore in college back in the early 80’s , I serendipitously discovered the music of Pat Metheny. I was looking through a stack of used albums at a local record store when I came across a album cover with a bunch of glistening airstream RV trailers photographed against a blue sky. pmg_americangarage I didn’t even notice the name of the band or the album title at first.  I was trying to imagine what music represented by an airstream might sound like.  I was intrigued, so I checked out the name of the band – the Pat Metheny Group.  Never head of them.  American Garage was the name of the album. I almost put it back in the bin, but decided to flip over the album, expecting to find references to folk or country music – maybe a fiddle player or a picture of a mandolin or a banjo trio. Quite the contrary.  The photo on the back cover revealed some young guys in a greasy garage jamming.  I knew it wasn’t a country band because the guitarist was playing a hollow body Ibanez jazz guitar.  Hoping I had found a gem, I bought the album; I’ve been playing it ever since.  A true gem!

To check out samples of the rest LP,  follow this link: American Garage.  To check out more Pat Metheny music, go to the Pat Metheny Group website.