Music is huge part of my life. I devour it. After family it is probably the most important input I have into my brain. In fact, in another universe I believe I am the front man of a grunge progressive metal group. Some sort of a cross of Rush, Soundgarden, throw in some Pearl Jam, flavors of Metallica and Anthrax, and add some more progressive rock seasoning. You get the picture. The name of the band is Pollinated by Slugs. Our fans are called Slug Heads. It’s crazy, but I digress.
It is apropos that music would be an early topic to post on this blog, because of the importance it plays in my life. I almost always, much to the chagrin of my wife, have music playing in the background or am listening to music in my headphones. This includes work. And if there isn’t music playing into my ears then I have some tune playing in my head. For instance, today’s ear-worm has been the 1980 Sheena Easton classic “Morning Train”. C’mon, you know.
My baby takes the morning train
He works from nine ’til five and then
He takes another home again
To find me waiting for him
Sometimes my brain really pisses me off, especially because that is the only part of the song I know.
Now, to the point of this posting. We all have moments in our lives that are seminal to our development. Moments that we remember nearly every morsel of. For our parents the Kennedy assassination, Gen Xer’s we have Challenger, 9-11, etc. These are important; but for me, I have music moments. I can tell you exactly when I heard certain songs or groups. So here are my top 10 music moments.
10 – Porcupine Tree/Steven Wilson – This one comes via my friend John Castellano. He is a huge Rush fan, bigger than me, and one day four or five years ago he told me to check out Porcupine Tree. So on my way home one day I stopped at the used CD store and grabbed a couple of discs. I was southbound on I-25 as the opening guitar rift from “Shallow”, the second track on Deadwing and I swallowed the hook. The opening track was great, but something about the second track was just mind blowing. This moment was a gateway back into my progressive rock roots and the leader of Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson, has moved onto a solo career that has yielded additional great music. His live show last year in Boulder will forever be in my top 10.
9 – Coheed and Cambria – A band I was aware of and perhaps heard a couple of tracks from, but it wasn’t until I saw them open for Iron Maiden in August of 2012 that I came to adore them. It didn’t hurt that I was able to share the moment with my son, who was 10 at the time. Since then I have collected all their albums and seen them a total of three times, including with the kids last month. (Quite the experience for our foreign exchange son, Q.)
8 – Paul Simon – This one comes in three parts. Dancing with my mother to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecila”, seeing Paul live, with the wife, at Big Mac in 1990 and the Rhythm of the Saints tour and then Paul live again in 2011 with my mom. Then there was Paul opening Saturday Night Live in 2011 with “The Boxer”. He is arguably the most important American Musician of the late 20th Century. He’s not the biggest selling artist, but his ability to infuse other musical styles into his own is magical. His live shows are not to be missed. Also he has the ability to change a song into something different and still make it sound incredible. (I’m sure I’ll post about best concerts someday.)
7a. – Soundgarden – KUCB radio on the campus of the University of Colorado- Boulder. (They call it KCUB – Radio 1190 now.) There are a ton of moments in that studio where I found new music. I grew out of classic rock phase there. It started with Soundgarden, the birth of grunge for me. Caught Soundgarden at Rock Island in Denver several months later, my first band interview. To this day Louder Than Love is still one of my favorite albums to chill to. Yes I chill to Soundgarden. .
7b. – Nirvana – A Saturday afternoon in Farmington, NM. Listening to KSUT while driving the wife’s 1969 Saab (miss that car). I had to pull over, because I couldn’t believe what I had heard. I went back home and called the station to find out who it was. Bought the CD at Southwest Sound in Durango a month later.
6 – Accept/Iron Maiden – Todd Troyer’s room – A high school friend that solidified my Rush commitment, but then he opened up so much more, especially in an era of glam rock that just didn’t fit my ear. Todd introduced me to pure metal, a love I still have today.
5 – Steely Dan – Sweeney’s Grub Steak – My first real job was washing dishes for Terry Sweeny at his fabulous restaurant just outside of the Durango city limits. Terry made great mix tapes that included lots of Steely Dan. To this day whenever I hear Steely Dan I’m transported back to the restaurant kitchen. The important part of this memory is that job got me into the studios of KDUR, a couple of my co-workers were student at FLC and I invited myself to the station on a couple of occasions.
4 – Todd Rundgren – Back to my cousin’s bedroom after another trip to the record store. This time with the “The Hermit of Mink Hollow” and Utopia “Ra” albums. Todd has been a constant in my life since. I love Todd’s music, but am probably more enthralled with the music he produced; XTC, The Tubes, TPOF, etc.
3 – Violent Femmes, Talking Heads, and Roxy Music – KDUR Radio – My first regular radio gig was the Sunday morning classical show. After six months, and thanks to my very cool journalism teacher, I moved onto to a mid-day show in the middle of the week on Wednesdays. Then I moved to Saturday Nights and took the name Mr. Zoggs and this is where I found alternative, thanks to requests. The Femmes – “Country Death Song” (I later got to do stage announcements for them), Roxy Music – “Avalon” and Talking Heads – “And She Was”. I learned a valuable lesson, never say “no” to a music request, because it will more than likely open you up to something wonderful.
2 – Rush – Moving Pictures – Hummingbird Music Camp. I don’t know the kids name, but he had the cassette and it was awesome. Neil’s drum solo on Tom Sawyer. I listened to that thing a hundred times those two weeks. I fell in love with Rush in that moment and they continue to dominate my playlist.
1 – Van Halen – Sitting in my cousin’s bedroom, he was living with us at the time, and I had accompanied him to Budget Tapes and Records earlier in the day. He came home with the first Van Halen album. It was awesome. “Running with the Devil” was an inferno of sound and then they added fuel with “Eruption”. ”You Really Got Me” is a memory burned deep into my conscious. Whenever I hear anything from that album I am transported to my 11 year-old self sitting on my cousin’s bed.
What are the musical moments in your life that helped to define you?