Saturday, October 11, 2008

Weekend Update (Part Two): Musical Evolution

Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before....

But I got to thinking about music the other day, wondering what it is that attracts people to some music more than other kinds of music. I started looking back in my own experiences to see if I could lay a pattern on things. I couldn't, but the meanderings of my musical attractions is kind of interestingly scatter-shot.

My earliest years, of course, were influenced by two people: my dad and my grandmother. My dad, as long as I can remember I guy who always had a number of irons in a number of fires (motorcycle building and racing, real estate, catering, entertainment representation, etc.), used to be a sort of local agent for some musicians during my formative years. Most of these bands were cover bands, nobody ever made more than a demo tape, as far as I knew, but their eight-tracks were always lying around. And, of course, there was plenty of vinyl in my house, mostly of the popular variety--Beatles, Stones, Sonny and Cher, Black Sabbath, Rod Stewart, etc. So, I listened to a good deal of that.

I also spent a lot of time with my grandparents, during the summers and on the weekends. They only lived a mile or so from my parents house, and everybody eventually wound up there anyway, my parents, my aunt and uncle, my great aunts and uncles--everybody. My grandmother, being from a previous generation, always had her radio tuned to the local "old music" station. So, I got a heavy dose of the pre-rock and roll years of popular music--Frank Sinatrta, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Sarah Vaughan, Nat "King" Cole, Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, the Andrews Sisters, The Inkspots, and on and on. It made for an interesting mix tape, and I loved it all.

The first album I ever picked out for myself, was a Wings album, At the Speed of Sound. Not a great album in the eyes of posterity, but, I liked it. Paul and Linda McCartney with Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch--Sir Paul still had some awesome melody-writing abilities, as witnessed by "Silly Love Songs," "and "Let Em In." I also wore out the grooves on Wings' live triple-album, Wings Over America. The opening 11-minute medley of "Venus and Mars/Rock Show/Jet" was candy to my seven-year old ears. And side three's "Picasso's Last Words" resonated in some unclear way to my burgeoning sense of poetry.

Any sense of poetry that may have been developing was certainly not a factor in my next-recalled musical obsession: Pat Benatar. There, I said it. It's out there. To this point, very few people knew this about me (and, considering the number of people who will read this, that won't change), but, I am not afraid of this truth anymore. It probably started in about 1983, and by the time it had run its course, I owned every album she and her band released from 1980's In the Heat of the Night to 1988's Wide Awake in Dreamland.

There are several reasons I can see for my (still) enjoyment of the Queen of Rock: 1) I was 14, and she was hot; 2) her songs (or rather Neil Giraldo's songs) RAWK (in an eighties sort of way); 3) the woman can flat out sing; 4) Myron Grombacher is one of the BEST drummers ever; 5) her "Wuthering Heights" kicks Kate Bush's ass and her "I Need a Lover" kicks John Mellencamp's ass. By the time I was 19, however, I had tired of Pat and had moved on to my next BIG musical obsession.

In 1986, I first heard REM on the radio. I fell in love to "Fall on Me," and I dove into my passion for this Athens-based band of art school cast offs and record store clerks. The southern jangle of the music and the mumbled pretentiousness of the lyrics where a 180 degree shift from Chrysalis-slick AOR music, and it made me see and feel how music could be serious and important. I don't know if that makes any sense, but let me try to explain. I was growing up...and so was my music. I guess that sums it up a bit better.

Truth be told, the shift wasn't immediate. In that sort of transition time between 1985 and maybe 1988, I doused myself in classic rock, and discovered a real connection to Jethro Tull. So, in a way, my progression kind of went like this Seven the Hard Way to Thick as a Brick to Document. Is that odd?

That brings me to the college years. As good a place as any to call a time out.

1 comment:

La Fashionista said...

It's too hard to think about my musical development. Something about chaos, order, chaos, etecera. Maybe it's because my stomach is HUGE from eat-o-rama weekend!

Anyways, surpie cominatchoo.