You know, I try to pride myself on keeping up on music. It’s one of the few things I’ve always been reasonably knowledgeable in. It’s been something that was bred into me, actually. I can remember parties in the basement of my parent’s house when I was 4 or 5 years old and hearing Zeppelin, The Doors, Foghat, ZZ Top and Aerosmtih being played on an old console stereo as the smacking of cue balls shattered the air. My parents had the party hub for their friends and my barely 21 year old uncles. Beer flowed and there was usually a haze in the air. One of my uncles was in a pretty popular local rock band called Magi. They were a five piece band that pretty much emulated Aerosmith for the most part. Made it to California to play the Sunset Strip in time to be considered dinosaurs and my uncle headed back to the Hoosier state to live the life of mere mortals. I can remember very clearly being a kid barely in school and running down to the neighbor’s house with my mom to watch my uncle play on local television. WSJV, channel 28 out of South Bend, Indiana had them come on and play in the studio. Of course, it was later learned that the whole thing was lip synced, as they must not have had the means to properly mic and broadcast a live performance at the time. Still, it was pretty great to see my uncle in the bright studio lights; long, rock and roll mane and perfect tough guy mustache.
For a kid in Osh Kosh B’Gosh that sort of thing made an impression, man. I wasn’t blown away by Pete Rose, Terry Bradshaw, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar like my brother was; and though I loved Batman, Spiderman, Superman, and had a very strange fascination with Yvonne Craig whenever she donned that oh so tight Batgirl costume, it was rock and roll that got the wheels turning in my oversized kid head. Sure I fell for the normal kid tropes like Saturday morning cartoons, Tonka Toys, and Star Wars. I later moved onto an obsession with Transformers(and their precursor Go Bots) and the mildly fascist GI Joe with their state of the art killing machines and addictive after school cartoon, there was always a soundtrack playing in the background. Scratched up Kiss records when I was playing with Fisher Price toys in my bedroom, then it was Def Leppard and Jimi Hendrix cassettes when deciding who was going to win the battle between Han Solo and IG-88. Then in the fifth grade I bought my first cassette with my own money. Ratt’s Out Of The Cellar was my pick. I mean, how could I not get that? Having Friday Night Videos as my only music source outside of lousy top 40 radio I would watch it religiously every Friday night. “Round and Round”, with it’s scantily clad women, Milton Berle(really? Milton Berle?) appearing, and of course Warren Demartini wailing on a colorful, pointy guitar? I was sold. Then “Back For More” came out and I had to have it.
That led to countless other purchases, which led to me wanting to play guitar after years of contemplating it, only to be too scared of getting a child molester for a guitar teacher(I was a paranoid kid, what can I say?) But finally we found a guitar teacher who was teaching a kid I knew and I felt like maybe this guy was on the level. Turned out to be a great guy and a great teacher for me. He was laid back and funny, but he came from the bluegrass world and not the rock world. This was cool, though. He showed me some things I may not have learned had I started with the local hesher at Butterfly Music downtown.
While most of my elementary school friends moved onto jockdom and obscurity, I languished in the fringes. I was the kid that wore the Freddy Krueger t-shirts and Megadeth t-shirts. I was that guy in class that said little to nothing, all the while sketching pictures of guitars in the shape of axes and blood splatter. I knew nothing about your goddamned favorite sports team or that goddamned Taylor Dayne song you heard this morning on the bus to school. Those things were inconsequential. What was consequential was Richard Harvey’s Hardware, and that Joey Belladonna was making a guest appearance in the movie Pledge Night. Did I watch the fucking Grammys? You mean that awards show that gave the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance award to Jethro Tull over Metallica??
Yeah, I skipped it.
Music was, and has remained a constant for me. It’s been that one thing that I try to remain relevant with. Not that I like everything. I’m not a much of a hip hop fan, with the exception of a few artists. I’ve never liked country music, regardless of era or artistic relevance. Yeah, I know there’s some great country music out there, it just doesn’t translate well in my head. And what passes as “modern rock” sounds like processed food turned to audio. Wretched stuff, really. I love jazz. Well, I love 50s, 60s, and early 70s jazz. Bop(give me a bop, any bop), fusion, cool jazz,…if it’s got a heart and swing I’m in. Blues? I like some. It’s not something I go to often, but I’m not clueless as to it’s relevance in everything I love musically.
More than anything I love the art of music. I love the creative process. I love to not only see the wheels turning in an artist’s head, but to feel them turning. These more avante composers like Steve Reich and Terry Riley, what they created in the 70s to me seems the epitome of vision, process, and the ultimate creation of art. There’s blood and guts and brawn and emotion in there. Some folks have a harder time hearing and seeing the ghosts in the machine. For me, life is to be loved with the ghosts. The haunts in our bones. The creaks in our heads. The fears of becoming stagnant and having nothing to contribute; not only to the world but to ourselves. The urge to create is essentially an artist feeding their own soul. Their being. Without that creation, like the autumn leaves or an atrophic limb the artist withers and dies. That need to create is real. It’s more than ego. It’s more than pride. It’s breathing. It’s the lifeforce. That’s what keeps me coming back to music. I’m an artist, but more than creating I’m a lover of the art of creation; whether it’s me creating or someone I admire.
What else can I say? I’m not a sports guy or a theater guy. I’m a music guy. It’s been my destiny since I was 4 years old and serving bowls of chips to drunks in my mom and dad’s basement. Since I played my uncle’s album on a Fisher Price turntable time and time again before I could even get a lunch card punched in elementary school. Ever since I was choreographing battles between Rebel and Imperial soldiers with a Twisted Sister cassette tape, or running lights for a Christian rock band. My destiny has been set since the day my dad came home after work and gave me a copy of Sammy Hagar’s Cruisin’ and Boozin’ as a consolation prize for staying home sick from school. I was never meant to be anything more than the guy that knows that song you’re thinking of.
And really, I’m okay with that.