My daughter was born a few weeks ago. Newborns change your schedule completely. During one of my late night feedings I was channel flipping and saw that IFC was running a documentary on Kurt Cobain: Kurt Cobain: About a Son. It was a collection of recorded audio interviews set against various visuals. I loved it. I mean, I really loved it. Now, I grew up listening to 90’s alternative music, but I wasn’t really a Nirvana junkie. Don’t get me wrong, I like Nirvana music, I remember where I was when I found out Cobain was dead, and I appreciate their place in history, but that wasn’t the only reason I was riveted. It is because I am a music addict.
I listen to every kind of music, with the exception of true blue country, sorry its just not me. From rap to rock to bluegrass to swing to classical to the blues, I take it all in. My earliest music memories are of listening to Oldies music in my Mom’s station wagon and then starting to listen to pop music. But, even then, in my early years I listened to different types of music. I had my Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation, Beastie Boys License to Ill and one of the Cars tapes. I found my true love in grade school when a classmate gave me a tape of a bunch of Guns N’ Roses music. I was hooked and from then on I couldn’t get enough, not of Guns N’ Roses, but of music in general. I signed up immediately for BMG and ordered my first ten CD’s for a penny or whatever the ridiculous hook was before you started paying $20 a disc. I can’t remember what those first ten discs were, but there was some Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Aerosmith. Let’s go through some of my quirks:
- Growing up I listened to music all the time. Now I know what you are saying, “All kids listen to music a lot.” I’ll grant you that, but do all kids walk around with a headset glued to their ears, while they are eating dinner with the family, while they are dating a girl in high school (that didn’t end up working out too well, big surprise right?), or taking the SAT’s (before the teacher told me to take them off)?
- I’ve coined a personal phrase…”lyric days.” These are the days I wake up and I hear the lyrics to a song clearer than usual. Lets be honest, lots of music is covered up by heavy bass beats or overwhelming guitar riffs, but some days I just wake up as I am sure others do and I can just hear the words to songs better than I usually do. I searched the radio dial to pick up any words I have ever wondered about.
- Not only do I not allow any of that kiddie music in my car, but before dinner every night my son and I rock out to Killer’s music. He is a big fan. I made sure that he was properly introduced to music while he was still in the womb. My wife and I took him to a Smashing Pumpkins concert and if it wasn’t for Rivers’ bus accident, my daughter would have had the same experience listening to Weezer. Speaking of Weezer, did I mention I DVR’d the Weezer episode of The Chronicles on the Fuse Network months ago just so my son and I can watch them playing on the Muppet Show? He gets Kermit and Ms. Piggy, I get Waldorf and Statler. He sleeps listening to the lullaby versions of ACDC, Guns N’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins, and Green Day. Have you ever heard Thunderstruck, lullaby style?
- I was never a mix tape guy back when I was younger, I would make tapes to give to people with music I thought they would like, but never some cheesy “I Love You” collection. This is because I associate people with the music they listen to. One of the very first questions I ask someone when I first meet them is, what type of music do you listen to? This is an extremely important part of me getting to know someone, because everyone can be judgmental and I am no different. The only slight difference is that I don’t form my first impression on cars or clothes or jobs, I make mine on music taste. If you are strictly a pop music fan I lean towards shallow, country I lean towards arch-conservative, and because of my own predilection as an alternative fan I usually tend to think its fans are a little more understanding of others. I have always believed that if we were all freaks and geeks that we would be a much more understanding world, but I digress.
Look, the bottom line is, music has always and will always, be a major part of my life. When I hear certain songs or artists playing I may sometimes think of memories of my own, but more often that that I think of people. One of my oldest and closest friends will forever come to my mind when I hear any Billy Joel music. Fast Car will always make me think about a friend from high school, not because of the lyrics, but because it my mind that song is her. When I hear The Who, I think of my wife, always. Any real twangy country music I hear always make think of a friend from college, who does happen to be an arch-conservative. What can I say, the man has a “Reagan 84″ t-shirt. There are the songs that remind me of a particular moment, For Those About To Rock by ACDC will forever bring my mind to the greatest wedding entrance I have ever seen by my best man at his wedding, fireworks and all. My wife and I walked into our wedding reception to music from Kill Bill, but the song equaling a moment is not what I am getting at. In my mind, which I admit is somewhat warped, equates people with music. It’s how I remember people and occasionally judge people. Let me say at least once that my initial judgment can very easily be changed once I actually get to know someone a little bit better after I find out what type of music they listen to. That being said, you’d be surprise how often the music matches my assumed personality.
I admit sometimes I can go a little overboard. I once questioned a Best Buy employee as to why the Zwan new release was not in the new release section. The woman looked at me like I had as many heads as the hydra, but I was pissed. This was the music of my youth reborn and how dare some corporate entity downplay it. When music is this important to your life, this is something stupid that you do. New release Tuesday is a weekly Christmas to me. (Quick side note, speaking of Christmas, if you have never heard Chris Cornell sing Ave Maria, check it out, it is simultaneously beautiful and horrifying all at the same time.)
What I am trying to say is that music is like another limb to me, I couldn’t imagine my life without it. I think it is because I can get lost in it. I am an incredibly stressed out person and really high strung, ask anyone I know. I’ve toned down since I was younger, no more burning pictures in frying pans, throwing sodas at minivans, or dressing in all black with a headset around my ears. I cook breakfast for my kids in frying pans now, wear bright shirts, and…no I will never have a minivan, but you get the point. Music gives me those brief moments of release every day. Sometimes I think of the person it reminds me of, what the song means to me, or even something as simple as a color it makes me think of, but it’s mine and that’s enough for me.
One of my current favorite songs is off of Weezer’s second newest album, the Red Album. The song is named Heartsongs. It lists various song references and alludes to the fact that these were all songs that the singer sang to himself and were close to his heart. I love the song. Its catchy and even has a good story to it, sort of, but that is not the real reason it gets me. Songs from all walks of life are what has gotten me to this point in my life. They are old friends to me or new acquaintances getting me through a tough day. I know this has gotten pretty sappy, but come rock out one night with my son and I listening to “Jenny Was a Friend of Mine” and tell me you don’t see my point.