I was perusing through the NME site not too long back, and they had a compelling feature called Soundtrack of My Life, wherein they quiz various luminaries about the records that scored, impacted and/or changed their lives. It’s by no means that original an idea (I’m reminded of The Quietus’ regular featured “Baker’s Dozen,” which I discussed way back when). In any case, I thought I’d take a crack at it myself. Here we go...
The first song I remember hearing
Long before discovering rock, pop, punk, metal, whathaveyou, there was always music in our home when I was growing up. Between them, my mom and step-father had amassed a wide collection of records, including such perennial parent favorites by Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass, the Baja Marimba Band, the Windjammers, Stan Getz, Dave Brubeck, Astrid Gilberto and the like. My mom brought a bit more pop and rock to the proceedings with her selection of early Beatles albums, James Taylor and Carol King, while my step-father clogged up the place with loads of classical music, including everything from the kinda-metal “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky through Switched-On Bach by Wendy Carlos. They met in the middle with their mutual appreciation of Simon & Garfunkel, Cat Stevens and Abba. Futher adding to that mix, my grandparents were big fans of Broadway showtunes, Calypso records and cabaret favorites like Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel. Overall, my sister and I were exposed to a great deal of diverse stuff, for which I am eternally grateful. I do believe that the seeds for my life-long music fandom were sewn by all that music my family loved.
This all said, I think the first song I remember being played with some regularity that goes way back for me is “Mas Que Nada” by Sergio Mendes & Brazil `66, which -– I believe -– was a big ol' favorite of my mom’s. And, in retrospect, it does actually fucking rock. Here `tis now.
The first song I fell in love with
Once again, well prior to hearing pop on FM radio or rock’n’roll, I had the records in my parents’ and grandparents’ collection, and as I mentioned way back on this post, I was particularly smitten by this one Calypso record my grandparents owned by a gent named Blind Blake. Yeah, there’s an old blues guy named Blind Blake, as well, but this ain’t him. This is a gent who my grandparents saw perform during some ancient trip to the Bahamas. They thought he was wildly entertaining, so they bought the record (I want to say they saw him play at the airport, which is odd), and then proceeded to play the crap out of it on a regular basis. As such, I heard it quite a few times, and grew to find it entirely hilarious. This was my favorite song of his, being that it goes into grisly detail of how Blake is going to exact bloodthirsty revenge on old Jones for makin’ off with his girl. It’s awesome. Crank it.
The first album I bought
I was fortunate enough to have an older sister who routinely brought great new music into the house, including crucial records by The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Parliament, Blondie, The Police, The Buggles, The Vapors and ... err... Supertramp. But when I started branching out on my own, the first record I spent my own dubiously-earned money on was Dressed to Kill by KISS, lovingly procured from a long-shuttered record shop called Sam’s Record Shack. It was on Main Street in Westhampton Beach, two towns over from where we were spending our summer in Quogue. I used to furtively play the crap out of that single slab of wax, and -– say what you will about KISS -- it verily opened up a whole new world for me. I still own it and play it today.
The song that reminds me of the 70’s
I believe I more than covered this question on this old post from last year, but for some reason, the first songs that come to mind are “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by the Hollies, and then, of course, this one … which wins.
The first gig I went to
The first proper concert I went to was DEVO. It was Halloween night of 1981, and they were playing the grand and glorious stage of Radio City Music Hall on their New Traditionalists tour. I don’t remember there being an opening act. I went with my grade-school chum Spike (not his real name, immortalized here). I bought a t-shirt and an energy dome. I still have the latter.
This is that show…
The song that reminds me of the 80’s
The notion of picking a single song to sum up the entire decade seems fairly ludicrous, especially given the wide array of pivotal experience in those ten years. I mean, the decade started when I was in about 7th grade, and I graduated college in the last year of the decade, so to pick one, solitary tune the sums my adolescence, my high school years and my college years seems laughably unlikely. But, okay … I think this one sort of nails it…
The song that makes me laugh
The song I can no longer listen to
I don’t know that I can “no longer listen” to anything (a bit melodramatic, that), but there are certain songs that no longer retain the significance for me that they may have once held, for any number of reasons. This is one of those songs. It’s not that I don’t like it anymore, but it fails to summon the same feelings it once did.
The song I can’t get out of my head
This song has never left my head, and plays on a continuous loop…
My favorite new song
The song that changed my life
Without a moment’s hesitation
The song I do at karaoke
I don’t regualrly do karaoke -- and that's really not an accident -- but did only just a few weeks ago, with some other families from our kids’ school. The evening was exceptionally rough on my tinnitus-plauged ears, but I joined in all the same. I wanted to do “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop, but felt that the length of the song might cause some in attendance to revolt, so I inexplicably went with this one…
The song that makes me dance
If any explanation is necessary, you are devoid of the funk.
The song that reminds me of home
The song I want played at my funeral
I don’t want my funeral to be mawkish and maudlin. Play this loud.