When I was hanging out at my local food co-op recently I made the comment that Putumayo compilations are music’s equivalent of “comfort food.” I listen to those compilations when I need comfort, warmth or need to lift myself out of a funk.
So I started thinking about soul music and junk music too. I’m not talking Stevie Wonder or Earth Wind and Fire when I say “soul music,” but of course, you could include those artists if you choose. Soul music massages the spirit. You could include actual music from various sacred traditions, but even The Beatles fit into soul music, depending on the song. George Harrison wrote a lot of “soul music” and so did Paul McCartney after all, sometimes a popular love song opens the heart chakra allowing a sacred feeling to entrench itself.
Comfort music almost defies description. It can hail from a variety of traditions, countries and it’s not set to any specific rhythm or tempo. Depending on the circumstance a Puerto Rican salsa song could bring comfort to a person feeling home sick for the Caribbean just as a lullaby by a classical composer or folkloric tradition could bring comfort to a mother and child. But if you need a more succinct example, listen to one of the acoustic music Putumayo compilations.
Junk music mirrors junk food. While junk food is full of salt, sugars, and chemicals most of us can’t pronounce, junk music is also overproduced. It often has a strong mechanical beat and trite lyrics (that you try to resist). Junk music plays in the background of commercial grocery stores, electronic stores, and shopping malls. Similar to its junk food equivalent, teens enjoy listening to junk music, even though their parents nearly lose their minds hearing it. Some people use the term "noise" when exposed to junk music. Personally, I feel nauseated listening to junk music and I clear my chakras with soul music after returning home, when I’m exposed to it.
Now, that I’ve described my versions of soul, comfort, and junk music, it’s up to you, the readers to come up with your own music inclusions in those categories. If the music gives you a headache, causes you to feel dizzy or fall into a zombie state, good chance you have heard some junk music. If you feel more invigorated and loved after hearing the music, you have heard either comfort or soul music. Notice I didn’t write an article featuring specific music genres. I refrained from mentioning genres because most genres have exceptions. And depending on our age, race, culture, and level of education, not to mention geography, one’s person’s comfort music is another person's fill in the blank. Some songs transcend categories such as John Lennon’s Imagine or Bob Marley’s Redemption Song which fall into the universal realm. Those are songs that you can play anywhere at any time and most of the listeners will bond to the music and each other.
* Please note when I refer to "soul music" I'm referring to a sacred feeling that a listener feels when he or she listen to the music. I use the term "soul food" (which refers to food founded by Afro-American slaves) lightly in this article and definitely out of context. Music can be so nebulous and describing my experiences with music often leaves me stumbling over my words.