Janet Feder, history of rock and roll lecturer, on the records in her life

2 April 2019

Eric Friedberg

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    Janet Feder’s history of rock and roll course taught at UCCS touches on the second half of the 20th century through the lens of the cultural movement of rock ‘n’ roll. Feder’s passion for music, specifically rock music, goes far beyond drugs, long hair or a distorted guitar riff. These are the records of her life.        

Édith Piaf, “Piaf” (1962)

   “I first heard this music as a small child, I was probably five years old. I was supposed to be taking a nap.

    My grandfather had just bought this album, and when he put it on the record player, I screamed and cried. It was the saddest thing I’d ever heard. I had no idea music could do that.”     

Beethoven’s 6th Symphony (Philharmonic Orchestra 1957)

    “This was the first music I ever heard through headphones. I was sitting in front of the stereo, it was nighttime and the room was dark except for the lights on the receiver.

    My grandfather put these big headphones on me, and it was as if I was suddenly sitting in the center of the orchestra. It completely blew my mind!

    Every note became somehow… personal. It still freaks me out that such a thing is even possible. That was when listening to music became one of the most important things in my life.”

    Cream, “Best of Cream” (1969)

    “When I was probably ten or eleven years old, I wore out this record, I just could not get enough of it!

    Every song is so different and rocks so hard. My sister had a plastic record player in our bedroom, the kind that you can fold into sort of a box with speakers that attach to the sides. It was a sort of pea-soup green color. I would play a song, carefully lifting the arm (so as not to scratch the vinyl) between each phrase I would copy the lyrics – even though I’m sure I got a lot of them wrong!

    This is how I learned to listen. I would copy down the lyrics, and then try to figure out how to play the music. I spent uncountable hours doing this with other albums, too.”

    The Beatles, “Abbey Road” (1969)

    “This album has returned again and again in my life for different reasons, most importantly in 2010 when I began working on my 4th solo album, “Songs With Words”.

    My producer, Joe Shepard, wanted me to listen to what kinds of things can happen in a studio, to really hear George Martin’s hand in the Beatles’ music. “Abbey Road” was where I first truly heard the sound of The Studio, so many years after listening to many thousands of hours of brilliant music throughout my life.

    This just completely opened my mind to the possibilities that exist, beyond what I can do on my own, to the things that make my music sound like what I actually hear in my head. These possibilities are the result of the collaboration between artist, producer and engineer.”

    Glenn Gould, “The Goldberg Variations” (1982)

    “How could we be at Number 5 already?! I have not even gotten to Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Nina Simone, Juana Molina, Fred Frith, Kendrick Lamar and so many more artists whose work influences me so deeply… or Glenn Gould: I first heard this album as I was finishing my undergraduate thesis, which was about transcribing the music of Johann Sebastian Bach for the guitar.

    I had been playing a lot of Bach for several years by that point; however, the vision Gould created on the piano (also, like the guitar, an instrument that didn’t exist in Bach’s life) of the Goldberg Variations seemed to transport this aria and variations into the 20th century.”