I often fantasize about finding a woman who would find my iPod and fall in love with my music– finding that we shared a lot of the same tastes, discovering new favorites, talking about my experiences around the songs …and hopefully providing me with new tracks I can add to the mix and wrap new memories around.
I thought it might be fun to sample the eras here, music that made deep enough marks as to find a home on my iPod… You can find Part 1 “The Early Years” here…
When I went from country boy high school grad to college freshman in the big city, my musical tastes were fairly narrow, steeped mostly in 80s pop and rock. The next three years saw my musical horizons start to expand as I became aware of so much more, so much better, out there!
Oingo Boingo, Dead Man’s Party
My freshman dorm roommate was a preppy philosophy major who introduced me to New Wave music (and to the then cutting edge CD player). Dead Man’s Party knocked my socks off, and I immediate went to the record store and purchased the album. I got to see these guys play at the old Flood Zone and the band was simply amazing.
Squeeze, Take Me I’m Yours
While I liked Squeeze’s few radio & MTV songs, their greatest hits album Singles blew my mind, so many cool and interesting songs I’d never heard before. Then I went to see them play live at the Richmond Landmark Theater and witnessed probably the most talented group of musicians I’ve ever seen, playing virtuoso music while electrifying the audience with a spectacular show.
Georgia Satellites, Railroad Steel
My senior year of high school I had a couple musician friends that wanted to get a little more serious with their music and start a band. Finding a good singer proved elusive so I was asked to fill in at parties and jams. For about a year after graduation we actually named our band (The Hostages), practiced and did a few gigs. I had a ball, though as a writer I longed to try our hand at originals instead of trying to sing other people’s songs. I had a pretty limited range as a vocalist, but sometimes I could totally nail it—the southern rock band Georgia Satellites was one of them. A few years ago I reunited with the band for a few jam sessions for old-times sake, and I’m proud to report I can still belt out some of those tunes, including this fist-pumper!
R.E.M., These Days
Another band who’s music I could sing really well to was R.E.M. (heh, quite different from the Satellites stylistically if not geographically). Back then though trying to decipher Michael Stipes’ lyrics was brutal and involved many hours listening, rewinding, listening and guesstimating. Years later when a website went up with the official lyrics to those early R.E.M. songs I was amused by just how wrong I’d been… though of course no one who listened to us play those songs knew I was wrong because I sang those words just as incomprehensibly as Stipe.
I think spending all that time and effort figuring out lyrics and singing a handful of R.E.M. really connected me to that era of the band. Even after our band broke up, I ate up all those I.R.S. albums, joyfully singing along in what I hoped was a close approximation of Stipe’s lyrics. While The Hostages never performed These Days, it is #1 of many R.E.M. favorites and a song I never tire of listening to.
Led Zepplin, Custard Pie
In middle and high-school, I dismissed Led Zepplin as music the roughneck heavy metal kids listened to. Then I met Hudson in college, an art major and big fan of Zepplin. He had all their albums and I spent many evenings with friends deeply buzzing and listening to those records. Then one day I won a call-in radio contest and got the entire Led Zepplin album catalogue. I was totally hooked. I read Hammer of the Gods. I bought a bootleg concert album. I went to see The Song Remains the Same at the midnight movies. And I lamented that John Bonham drank himself to death and broke up the band before I ever had a chance to see them. Physical Graffiti had to be my favorite album, and the opening Custard Pie still blows me away and is just so heavy man, heavy.
Fishbone, Lying Ass Bitch
When I graduated from high school, my Dungeons & Dragons crew (nerds rule!) merged with another D&D crew that were a couple years older but we all got along famously and the gaming camaraderie quickly spilled out into partying and carousing. One of my newfound lifelong friends brought Fishbone’s first album to a party we were at and I was totally blown away by the thumping, high-energy ska. This song’s profane chorus was fun to sing along to while thinking about your ex. I was privileged to see the band perform live several times and their musicianship was stunning especially given how physical they were jumping on and off the stage. I learned the joys of moshing at Fishbone concerts.
Beastie Boys, Shake Your Rump
While Licensed to Ill was a badboy-good-time, the Beastie’s followup Paul’s Boutique was a total masterpiece album from start to finish. It’s hard to pick a favorite out, but Shake Your Rump might be it.
Not only did college open up my musical awareness, but it also led me to my first head-over-heels love experience. She loved music too and we spent a lot of time drinking beers, listening to music and enjoying each other’s company.
Romeo Void, Never Say Never
Before we became an item, I had a secret crush on her. I brought some albums to a party one night, and was one of the people spinning the tunes. When I put this great song on by Romeo Void, three gorgeous ladies (including my secret crush) jumped up and began dancing to it. Since none of their significant others joined them, I got up and danced with them, and when we all sang the chorus I might like you better if we slept together I fantasized that all three were singing to me, hee heee…
How Can I Refuse, Heart
When my secret crush became not-so-secret and I found out she had feelings for me too I was stunned, scared, thrilled and excited. Never before had someone I loved loved me in return. While we saw each other several times a week, like all young love you just can’t get enough of each other so we’d write letters to tide us over to the next night together. I remember one letter quoted this song by Heart:
Where do we take it now
Now that we caught fire?
Will something greater grow
Out of this desire?
Should I drop my guard
At the risk of being used?
But the way you do those things to me
How can I refuse?
All these years later whenever I hear this song it sends me back to those days of young love.
Romeo and Juliet, Dire Straits
All good things eventually come to an end, and when she and I started going through a rough patch this Dire Straits song that so brilliantly mixes romance and melancholia seemed to capture what we were feeling. Time has healed the sadness to where I can now listen and just enjoy the beauty of the song.
Coming soon, Part 3 Expanding Horizons…
Read Full Post »