Music has always played a huge part of my life.
I’ve always been jealous of people who could just instantaneously look back at life and remember specific moments.
My life has been defined by music. Every moment I store in my memory could not be recalled if it weren’t tied to a specific song. I could go years without hearing one song—then it plays, and I’m eight years old again, in a horrific blue van, with my mother and brother, on my way to swim practice, and I’m watching the world pass by outside, and all I can think about is I hope my dad is there to see me.
And now, one minute, I’ll be laughing with the family in the car, while compulsively hitting the “seek” button on the radio and on comes Aerosmith, “Angel,” and my entire body tingles remembering how that was the wifey and our “song” back in the day.
Or Violent Femmes “Blister in the Sun” will hit and I’ll instantly be 17 and laughing, laying in the wifey’s trampoline out-back of her mom’s house, teaching her the lyrics while chuckling inside knowing it’s a song about masturbation.
I’ll always remember how fucking rad I thought my Uncle was when he gave me Iron Maiden “Piece of Mind” for Christmas one year.
When I was 11, our family had driven to New York City to be with my father’s family. My cousin, a few years older, handed me his Walkman. I’m pretty sure my ears came at least five times that day as I was introduced to Led Zeppelin for the very first time of my life. That night my god-father died and we drove from New York to South Carolina non-stop, while I listened to Led Zeppelin I, II, III, & IV which my cousin gave me cause he felt bad we were on our way to bury my mother’s brother.
The very first CD I owned was the double album Led Zeppelin “Song Remains the Same Live.” John Bonham will always, in my mind, go down in history as the best drummer ever.
The introduction of Led Zeppelin was an incredible breakthrough musically for me. One I’ll never forget. And, the only thing comparable, was in 1992. I’ll never forget, sitting at the kitchen table alone, watching MTV (back when they fucking played music) and Pearl Jam “Alive” came on. The spoon fell from my hand. I was mesmerized. I later said to my good friend at the time “it’s the sound I’ve been dying to hear!” I wrote “Pearl Jam Ten” on a sheet of paper after watching the video, and owned the cassette by the end of the day.
Pearl Jam is Pearl Jam these days, but for me…it knocked down the wall to my musical boundaries and I never looked back. I even grew my hair out to live the part!
I obsess over lyrics. I can hear the drum line of every song and see it like Rain Man counting tooth picks. I remember:
The girl I dreamt about in middle school finally noticed me and we started dating. And Phil Collins “Groovy Kind of Love” was our song.
I got laid off from my job and I blared Rage Against the Machine “Wake Up” on my headphones and walked a straight line down the Chicago sidewalk daring anyone to bump my arm, look at me wrong, or even smile.
On the way home to grab some stuff from our house after our son was born, I’ll never forget playing John Lennon “Beautiful Boy,” despite the fact I blame Yoko for everything evil on this planet.
The Beatles “Don’t Let Me Down” – Cold War Kids “We Used To Vacation” – Iron & Wine “Trapeze Swinger” – Dave Matthews Band “Say Goodbye” – Bare Naked Ladies “Blame It On Me” – Train “Drops of Jupiter” – Temple of the Dog “Hunger Strike” – Van Morrison “And It Stoned Me” (which this link is to the Great Jerry Garcia, because I could find a damn original Van Morrison version and who better to cover than Jerry!)
I could do this for hours.
I play music as much as I can for the kids. I name the bands. I try to explain the lyrics. I pound out the drum line on my steering wheel, knee, couch….in the hopes they get an understanding. I play my guitar, I long to own a piano again, and the boy and I are nagging the wifey to let us own a drum kit.
For me – the easiest answer to, “so tell me about yourself,” will always be to hand that person a CD and slowly walk out.