“I love music, any kind of music, any kind of music.”
That’s not completely true, there are some things that get on my nerves or that I cannot bring myself to listen to and most of those things fall into the category of screamo. Growing up in a house where there was live music maybe lends itself to a love of song. While my musical roots are tangled up in the folk music of the mid to late sixties and early seventies, and classic country, growing up there was a lot of music they didn’t have a category for at the time. There was so-called “Outlaw Country” and no one knew quite how to classify the Eagles, they were Country but really it’s more of a Southern Fried Rock kind of a thing, country-rock with a hard-driving rhythm. It is difficult for me to choose a favorite kind of music, I love bands like Skynyrd, .38 Special, etc. from back in the day, and these days, really still do like Black Stone Cherry, and Shinedown. When I get into youtube, I’ll get looking around and there’s no telling where all it might lead to, last night I ended up listening to a bunch of different versions of, “Help me Make it Through The Night, and I know a bunch of people are like, “Huh? What song is that?”
When I started listening to what was on the radio, well that was kind of a big deal in our house. My BeeGees and disco, Billy Joel and such, were contraband, consider noise or not real music. Olivia Netwon-John had to be snuck because she was too hot, totally hot, and I think I was only allowed to have an ELO poster on the back of my door because it was the one with the large UFO and at our house we were very into “In Search of…” and all those sorts of things at the time. My then best friend’s older brother, when I was listening to disco, taught me all about the band KISS, yeah, I know, but despite his warnings, I still listened to the disco too. She had albums I wasn’t allowed to have, like Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls.” Sitting on the floor in her room listening to that was the equivalent of sneaking a peek at porn. She also had Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker’s Damn the Torpedo’s and I knew and likely know, every word of “Don’t do me Like That.” There was a boy at school who extolled to me the virtues of Heart and Queen and I remember the first Heart song that I heard was “Barracuda.” The boy next door, who was darkly goofy and mysteriously Portuguese, was very into Styx and Foreigner, he used to blast “Dirty White Boy” at a decibel level that had everyone on the street cringing, he also had a Pachinko machine, so, we liked him. The older girls were very into The Rolling Stones, “Emotional Rescue”, I remember that song kind of made me feel weird, somewhere down low, and kind of whispered, what was he talking about…that sounds like something dirty somehow, have to sneak to listen to that one too.
In junior high it was all John Mellencamp when he was still John Cougar, “Jack and Diane,” and Rick Springfield. At the dances it was Motown, a lot of The Gap Band, Kool and the Gang. It was always fun because my friend Joe was frequently the dj and he’d throw in some Ozzy or some Van Halen and there was a group of us, who though we were dancing to the bump of “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” or Ray Parker Jr’s “The Other Woman,” which was really risqué, Joe would throw some Van Halen in there and a big group of people would cheer for the change of pace, for the music that made the teachers cringe. In high school, for me, it was all about Def Leppard but really that was that stage where you’re listening to what your friends are listening to, or trying to. I listened to a lot of Whitesnake too. I did buy one Mercyful Fate album just to check it out, King Diamond, I recall when an older cousin got me to throw that album away some years later. It’s interesting to me now, thinking about it, remembering that there was a lot of hard rock or metal music that I didn’t like when I first heard it because it just seemed loud to me, noisy. But then it became like any other music in that I found the songs or parts of it that I did like. A friend of mine was a bass player in various metal bands back then and over the years that added another facet to my musical knowledge. I listened to classical music sometimes when I read. I was very into the ballet during that time, however briefly, and that expanded my musical horizons too. Later on, in my late teens, I met this kid, he was 16, who played the alto sax ( he later went on to play with The Brian Setzer Orchestra) and he was very into the music of David Sanborn, who I knew of because he used to sit in with the band on Late Night with David Letterman, which was the show you watched back then if you were, you know, really hip, the Monty Python of Late Night talk shows of its day. So that was how I found out about jazz and that was great because it led to Billie Holiday and that actually lead back around to rediscovering Janis Joplin and that leads back to Kristofferson and that leads back to, Waylon and Willie and the boys.
I miss the old music shows like Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert or Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special, rock stars seemed so much more like rock stars then. People have tried to tell me for years of the virtues of Nick Cave and that’s a strange thing because for the most part, I just can’t get into it, but I did check it out so it’s an informed decision, I just don’t dig it. Tom Waits is a poet, a genius but I don’t listen to any of that really either. ( Though I may be re-thinking the Tom Waits, his performances as an actor have piqued my interest.) It’s like punk, I know about it, of course, I mean, or course, I’ve listened to it, have my Ramones T-shirt but it was kind of a stage or, just not something I can get into for living with every day. (That isn’t to say I wouldn’t still put the Ramones on blast if I felt like it.) And it’s a funny kind of gauge that way, when someone is really into The Bad Seeds and …I don’t know what else goes along in that classification, I know I’m likely not going to have much in common with them. But if they maybe ever owned the sound track to the movie Urban Cowboy, like I did on a cassette, a gift from my grandparents because someone gave it to them and it wasn’t their kind of country, or know who Jim Stafford is, or can appreciate that I listened to Dokken’s “Under Lock and Key” until it wore out, well we might have some things to talk about.
Way back to the beginnings, my mom had Elvis albums, and we loved that, those wer fun songs to sing along with. Kurt Russell was great as Elvis, is there anything he can’t do? She had an instrumental version of The Beatles Song Book and I was taught all of those lyrics, though those have likely mostly escaped my memory these days, Cher , Simon and Garfunkel, and I loved to sing along with some of Jim Croce’s songs. I remember listening to Carol King’s “Tapestry” for the first time. But, if I cue something up to listen to at length these days, it still pretty much leans towards that Country/Southern Fried rock thang, hair bands and have you heard the new Springsteen? Though the other night when I was working on the Western it was all Ennio Moricone. I love music and it’s one of the things I like best about being me, having that knowledge and appreciation right at my finger tips.
All time favorite song. Written about the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, the plane that Waylon Jennings did not get on.
Look what I found!
I think that when it comes to music, media, literature, exploration is the key, use your muses, or if you’re more of a purest, a loyalist, your muse. Took me a long time to get back to being comfortable with that and for that I am so grateful. I’m not going to start wearing cut up shirts again, like I wore in the 80’s, but it feels liberating, not like standing up in a group meeting owning bad behavior liberating, that’s something else, but just to say… “Yeah.. I know that Leif Garrett had a hit record.” I, too, was made for dancing, all, all , all , all night long.