Music: A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Nuggets / Stories

Anyone who has met me more than twice could tell you how deeply I’m moved by music. Not that I have ever been able to create music, nor do I think I have any kind of technical expertise or even overly sophisticated taste in music…but still, I am a voracious consumer and I like to think my musical horizons are far reaching. Listening to Cliffs of Dover earlier today got me a little nostalgic, to say the least, and I found myself taking a musical stroll down memory lane.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. About the people and places and events and circumstances that led me to those horizons and to the music that has become part of me. Some of the music I love the most has been, quite literally, introduced to me by someone in my life, and it’s impossible to know whether or not I would have ever found the music without the person. There is a link there, to be sure…person to music.

I doubt I’m the only one who finds it difficult to continue to enjoy the music & let it stay with me when the person no longer is. So, during this little stroll down memory lane, it occurred to me that it might be useful to acknowledge those links by writing them down for posterity. It was somewhat of a bittersweet stroll, culminating in quite an odd, quirky playlist…but it’s mine.

Person Circa Music
Dad My dad gave me the Blues (the genre!). He is a gifted musician and some of my earliest memories are of listen to him playing his guitar along with a blues show that was on the radio every Saturday night (one of three: a black and white Fernandes Stratocaster, just like “Blackie”, and bonus points if you know who Blackie is…a 60’s era wood grain Gibson SG…and a 60’s era Les Paul). I remember laying down on the floor in front of the amp – so close I could feel warmth and vibrations. He taught me that Eric Clapton IS god and I knew who BB King was before I could tie my shoes. To this day, even the thought of listening to him shred along with Mark Knopfler & Dire Straits on Sultans of Swing gives me goosebumps. He never learned how to read music, but he could play just about anything by sound…listen for a while and jump in and play along. And the jam sessions I sat in on. The way musicians can just start off with a drum beat and play and feed off each other. Simply amazing. And while it may not quite fit with the others, he also gave me Jay & The Americans -‘Come a Little Bit Closer’ is very dear to me.
Mom 50’s & 60’s Oldies/Doo-Wap, 70’s & 80’s easy listening (think Barry Manilow and Air Supply), Fleetwood Mac, ABBA, Roy Orbison
Aunt So many! MICHAEL JACKSON! MOTOWN! Funk, dance…but NOT disco, as she will immediately correct you! Because of her, I know Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang was the first rap song to make it to the Top 40, and that there’s a difference between Disco, R&B and Funk!
Uncles All 4 of them were a serious bunch of stoners, so you can imagine the musical influence. Classic rock…The Eagles, Steve Miller, CCR, Hall & Oates, Steve Winwood, John Fogerty, STYX, Heart, Jethro Tull, Billy Joel, Elton John, Journey, Rod Stewart, Yes, Neil Young, The Who, Bob Seeger. Ironically, I don’t remember them listening to any Grateful Dead.
RS 1984 I went to visit some friends of our family who had a daughter a little older than me. I remember they lived somewhere in Pittsburgh and liked really spicy food (I don’t)…and I heard for the very first time…PRINCE! Do you know where were you the first time you heard Purple Rain?
CAL 1987 Another gifted musician, he gave me heavy metal and hard rock, which I had virtually zero exposure to previously…Yngwie Malmsteen, Van Halen, KISS, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, AC/DC, Alice Cooper. Metallica remains one of my favorites to this day, but not quite so enamored with the rest anymore.
DB 1993 Ah, the Warehouse days. If you’re not from around here, The Warehouse was the only club in town to stay open until 4 AM. Pretty sure I met this guy there, and while I’m not a fan of his, I am a fan of Blondie, David Bowie, A Flock of Seagulls, Adam Ant, Morrissey and Chris Isaak.
CK 1994 Weezer. Enough said.
CA 1995 Country and classic country…that’s all the dude listened to…I would be lying if I tried to say that my love affair with Johnny & June didn’t start at this time in my life.
BC 2002 Two words: Blue October. Actually he left more than that – he had two of the most musically gifted sons. Both kids picked up musical instruments out of the blue and started playing them. The older one a guitar and piano, and the younger one the bass guitar. I hope they found their passion and continue to make music.
JV 2003 Sublime & The Smiths (it’s embarrassing, but back in 1993 when I was listening to Morrissey, I had no idea that he was also the vocalist for The Smiths)
JBS 2004 Tom Tom Club, The Clash, Big Audio Dynamite, Ramones…ska and punk
DWB 2006 He wasn’t really into music at all, which is odd considering I spent 6 years of my life with with man. I will credit him with Dixie Chicken by Little Feat, though.  There is no doubt in my mind that I never would have found a song about southern poultry otherwise.
SW 2008 A very good friend who reminded me about two tiny little acts I was not too familiar with…Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin…how in the hell did I miss those two?
MDP 2012 Radiohead and The Dandy Warhols, although I’m still not a big fan of either. Civil Wars, The Tillers, The Postal Service, Lana Del Rey, Matthew Barber, Beirut, Josh Ritter…probably others, but the wound is still too fresh, I guess…I’m dissociating now even thinking about it!
MGB 2015 Another talented musician (I’m seeing a trend here), he introduced me to World Party and to an album that he actually composed and produced himself: High & Blind by The Source.

Then of course there’s all the music that I discovered all by my own self, but I think I’ll save that for another day…