I'd like to say I have many interests, I watch the Jets on Sunday during football season, I like reading Batman comics, I enjoyed watching Robin Hood: Men in Tights the other day on Netflix, I'm kind of excited about the new Borderlands game of the year edition video game. What I love however, is music. From before I can remember, or so I've been told, I've always been into that branch of art. I've gone through many different phases in a variety of different styles, and those experiences shaped my passion for the way I love music today.
According to my mom, who would have the only recollection of this, because I was in that age where I was young enough to not remember, and still in a car seat, my first song I sang along with the radio was Starship's "We Built This City". I only know this because my mom does what moms do, every few years or we have a conversation about whatever and that gets derailed and we go on a tangent and she asks me if I remember certain things, like when we used to live in Poughkeepsie, and if I remember singing to this song. I have to tell her no, I'm pretty sure that all happened before I was three. What I can remember though, are my Alvin and the Chipmunks records. I used to listen to those everyday. I had maybe three of them, and I'd have to call my mom over to help me with the record player when I wanted to switch them. I also had a Romper Room record, and I really miss having those copies, though I'm sure they would not be in the best shape.
My first time actually recognizing a pop song on the radio was a Tina Turner song, I might have been "We Don't Need Another Hero" from the Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack. I don't know how I knew that, I don't remember how that knowledge entered my possibly four-year old brain, and needless to say my mom was slightly amazed, it was one of those things she told my father at the dinner table that night. I didn't think much of it at the time.
Growing up I couldn't help being influenced by the music my parents listened to. My dad was a classic rock guy. Led Zeppelin, The Who, and Hendrix were some of the bands he listened to, with an occasional Chuck Berry or Cream. I remember there being lots of Eric Clapton.
My mom is a little different, she had records I don't ever remember her playing. Best of Blondie was one of them, but she listened to the radio a lot. There's nothing wrong with that, it's like being exposed to a whole slew of pop music at once, but I never got real sense of which artists she liked more, or which ones she disliked. I got a lot of, "Man they used to play this song all the time back when I was younger". Although, I do remember her giving me a few cassettes to listen to, I don't remember what most of them were, but I know one of them was the soundtrack to Miami Vice. Even today, I'll walk into the room with her and the radio on and listen to a few seconds and turn to her and ask "Metallica"? My mom will quip back, with an "I didn't know, it was on and it wasn't hard so I stopped there". Which then the song always goes from the light intro, to the heavy guitar riffs, and she changes the station. I suppose I'd have to say my mom today is a country music
Although it wasn't until years later I found out my mom likes the Beatles, because she got one of their CD's. And only a few years ago when we were talking about something she confessed to being a Neil Diamond fan, and liked Bobby Sherman as a teenager.
And my grandmother played a smaller influence to me. She was an Elvis Presley fan, they went to the same high school, although I think different years, so they never actually met there, but I think that's cool. One time she was watching a biographical movie about Elvis, like Walk the Line was about Johnny Cash, on T.V., and she got frustrated because the actor playing Elvis had the wrong color eyes. Something I'm pretty sure only a superfan would notice. I can also remember hearing her say that the song " Mr. Bojangles" always reminded her of my grandfather.
The first real album I got after saving up my own money, was M.C. Hammer's Please Hammer Don't Hurt'em around 1992. I thought it was a pretty good album, despite it being the only cassette I had for what I can remember being a long time. And I played it on a little playskool cassette deck, complete with mono sound. I always found it weird that when I had headphones on the sound would only come out of the left ear, and at first I thought my tape was messed up, but when I played it through the big stereo we had out in the living room in my house, and plugged in headphones I was surprised to hear that I got sound from both sides. It was awesome, like listening to the album for the first time all over again.
I'm ninety-nine percent sure the next album I got after Please Hammer Don't Hurt'em was M.C Hammer's follow up album " 2 Legit 2 Quit", where I thought it was kind of silly he dropped the "M.C.", but what was I going to do? The album itself was alright, I liked it, but I never thought it was better than the previous one I had. That Adam's Family song I listened to often.
Then I got this dual cassette stereo with AM FM stereo. By no means was it an awesome stereo system, but it got the job done. Also I was able to use a power chord to plug it into a wall outlet, which was a huge step up from always having to use batteries, because man when they got low in power and couldn't quite make the spindles spin at a consistent speed that was a creepy experience when you least expect it.
Shortly after I got the stereo I got a blank cassette tape, which I thought was cool after it was explained to me what the object I just received was, and what I could do with it. At first it was a lot of recording myself do strange things, mainly fake radio stuff. Then I had this fantastic idea of putting the tape in the playskool player, and then recording the radio from dual cassette stereo in my room. I thought the idea was the best, and for a week or so getting a handful of real horribly recorded songs my dad told me I could just put the tape into the second tape deck and use that to record a way better version than what I had been doing. That was like adding your favorite topping on a delicious pizza, and I was excited that it worked.
I only really listened to one radio station doing that when I started, and it wasn't the best station I could've been listening to, they played your average top 100 songs of whatever week it was, and a lot of dance music. To this day I can't stand listening to "Be My Lover" by La Bauche. I think one time they played that song three times in one hour. The station would have terrible hours like that, and I'd get frustrated that it wasn't playing good music and I'd go do something else for a bit and come back and they'd be playing a Collective Soul, or Gin BLossoms. I thought those songs were far superior to that really lame stuff they were playing before.
Later of course I realized different stations played different music, and there were some that played the music I liked more often and played different records and bands, like Green Day. That's how I got my music for the most part for the better of at least two years. I'm sure I have that tape around somewhere, with the craziest track list you could think of.
And then 1996 happened. Which for me was the most amazing time for music. It all happened because I was on summer vacation, sitting on the couch watching MTV and VH1, flipping back and forth watching music videos. One channel would play something I wasn't to fond of and watch the other until the same thing happened. Then one day I saw the video for Alanis Morissette's " You Learn", and I thought it was a pretty good song and as a song like that does it got stuck in my head, so I did more channel flipping, trying to get to listen to that song, because when I get a song stuck in my head the first thing I want to do is give it a listen, sometimes it only takes half the song and I'm good, and sometimes only the whole song will do, and rarely I'll listen to one song over and over until it gets out of my head. I never really know until I'm done. But what had happened was, Alanis had a new video out, that I first saw on VH1. I know that in the grand scheme of the universe, I don't think anyone would actually guess "Head Over Feet" as my most favorite song, but when I saw that video for the first time my first reaction was, that she is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Fourteen years and five years later I still have an amazingly huge crush on that woman.
The way I first got Jagged Little Pill is oddly simple. My mom and I were in the local K-Mart looking for something and I wandered off to look at video games, which is also where they put all the music. I abandoned why I was in that section and quickly ran around to find the Alanis album. To my surprise it was priced at nine $9.99, so I mulled it over in my head, do I ask. How do I ask. What's a good enough reason for me to have this. Walking slowly around the store for a while, after I found my mom I asked if I could get a new tape. She asked her standard how much question which I told her. And to my astoundment she said yes. When we got home I listened to the whole thing, twice. And I listened to it at least twice a day every day for months, I knew every word and music cue. It was an amazing find for me.
A few days after I got Jagged Little Pill my dad came home and for some reason or another it came up that I had gotten the album. He said they were talking about it on the radio that morning and that they said that there were some questionable lyrics on it, and he demanded he read them. So I gave him just the case with the lyrics and kept the tape in my player, because I wasn't going to hand that over not knowing if I'd get it back at that point. My dad read the lyrics, and then gave me back the case and didn't really say anything after that about it. And that's the only time either of my parents wanted to look at any of words in the music I was listening to, though I did play Slipknot in a car ride with my mom once, because she was curious. She said they were very repetitive and I agreed.
A year or two later I got a better stereo system, one that played Compact Disc's! The first CD I played on it was Nimrod by Green Day, I thought it was okay, I always liked Dookie and Insomniac better though.
The end third of the year 2000 was the beginning part of my senior year in high school, and in November I had my first real live experience with the local music scene. The first act was a gentleman with a guitar, he wasn't bad, but I also don't remember his name or any of his songs, shameful I know. After him, the reason why I was there played, the band Three. They played an amazing set, I was there with my friend Allison, who had seen them many times before me. Three ended their set, and said they'd be back for a second set. I didn't know at the time they were going to do that, but I was all for it. The third set of music of the night was just as awesome as the previous, and seemed to go on deep into the night. The show ended with Three performing a cover of Purple Rain, and both Allison and I were surprised.
At the time of the show I was seventeen years old, and it took place in a bar called C's Spot. In Kingston New York I was unable to enter the establishment to enjoy the show on my own, and I was sad because I was sure I wasn't going to be able to go. However, Allison knew the band and had told them I wanted to go, so they said the only way I'd be able to get in is if I worked the merch booth, so affectively both me and my friend were "with the band" that night. Three's first CD Paint by Number had just been released a few weeks prior, I'm sure the band would've made more money had it not been my first show, or if I had known what I was doing, but I think I did at least a decent job.
The rest of the school year I spent primarily listening to Paint by Number, it's a good album to listen to from start to finish and it seemed like every time I started it I went through the whole thing.
Until then I hadn't put much thought into listening to live music, which thinking about it now seems weird to me. It's something I actually enjoy doing, despite my total disinterest in crowds. I've been fortunate enough to see Three quite a few times since that November day in 2000, and a lot of good local music, bands like By Land or Sea and Nightmares for a Week come to mind, and are a real highlight to see after a hectic week at work, and maybe I might discover some new band seeing them play.
The discovery of new music is where I'm at now. I go about that slow, I mean I could go on the internet find something like a Grooveshark and find bands left and right, theoretically. I use more word of mouth recommendations and then giving them a listen when I get a chance. The latest music isn't the only thing I want to find, I like when I find something old, but new to me and it's even more fascinating when there's a crazy story behind the musician, like a Django Reinhardt, or Leadbelly Searching is an endless quest for the next source of good music. Finding a new good song from any band, whether I know them or not is always a positive experience, but finding an entire album I can listen to from beginning to end and want to do it again makes me feel like I've found something really special.