28 Songs that Changed My Life: Miles Davis, “So What” (9 of 28)

It would be hard to overstate the impact Miles Davis has had on me, my taste in music, and how I approach music in general. His relentless experimentation, his drive to forge his own path, and the plain ol’ fact that his work is FANTASTIC have ingrained themselves into my life in a deep way.

It all started with “So What,” the opening track from his legendary Kind of Blue record, arguably the greatest jazz record of all time. When someone wants to get into instrumental jazz, I always recommend they start here. Listen for the aspects you like — the tinkling piano, the roaring sax solos, the meandering pace — then go check out the artists responsible for those elements (Bill Evans, John Coltrane, etc.).

You can unlock countless classics of the genre simply by starting here.

That’s how my journey went, at least, and it was transformative. I could spend all day outlining how this record changed how I saw music, how I played music, the things I looked for in music. It helped kick down the last few walls that prevented me from having a more open mind about the things I listened to. No longer content to only listen to variations on hard rock, “alternative” and “indie,” Miles’ perfectly chosen, perfectly placed notes and free exploration of sound revealed entire new worlds to me.

And sometimes, it still does.