Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tuned In

Quite a few weeks ago I had a great weekend where I saw one of my favorite bands, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, twice and spent a lot of time in the car listening to music and podcasts. The whole weekend seemed to be about people recalling music that influenced them when they were younger; cue blog inspiration.

Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers performed a special two-set Halloween show in Rochester where they paid homage to Pearl Jam before coming back out for a normal set. While playing music from Ten, Stephen told stories about listening to the music of Pearl Jam and specific songs from the album during his younger years. On the trek home the next day I listened to an episode of NPRs: All Songs Considered, titled: “Tunes That Got You Through Your Teens”. The episode was inspired by a dad who wrote to the ASC folks to ask for music he could give his daughter on her 13th birthday to help get her through the tumultuous teen years. It was an episode filled with great music and great stories that had special meaning to people. I had a lot of time in the car to think about the music that got me through my teen years and where music has taken me since.

Growing up my first musical influence, as you might expect, were my parents. They played me a lot of music from bands like The Rolling Stones, The Beetles, John Denver, Journey, Van Morrison, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, and many more. Later, in my early teen years my music was mostly influenced by my friends and whatever was playing on MTV and pop radio, you know back when MTV played music.

It wasn’t until I was around 15 or 16 that I started to branch out and discover music for myself. For me it was the combination of Napster and lyric websites that spun my independent taste in music. I would spend hours just looking up lyrics from bands and songs I’d never heard of and if the lyrics caught my eye, I’d download the song and wait 4 hours to see if I liked it. How did I stumble across Vertical Horizon? I have no idea, but their lyrics did something for me and to this day they are one of my favorite bands.

“Always trying to make love out of care
The perfect recipe but something wasn't there.”
–Sunrays and Saturdays

(Come on, those lyrics just scream out to at teenager with a broken heart.)

My second big musical evolution happened  when I was in college and I went to a concert that changed my interest in music for life. I had just come from a rugby game, I was dirty, smelly, probably a little drunk, tired and sore. We grabbed our spots near the front to watch the opening act – The Gabe Dixon Band and they blew me away.  To this day, I can’t tell you who the main act was (either Guster or Ben Folds). The Gabe Dixon Band had it all for me, great lyrics, great live music and great stage performance. I bummed $5 from one of my friends (Thanks Renee) and bought their short EP and discovered that sometimes great music can’t be found in the record store or from Napster and that a great live performance will make me a fan for life. 

In the past three years since finishing up my Master's and getting a full time job, I've had the free time and income to support my music addiction hobby. I've gone to well over 50 concerts, traveled thousands of miles and have seen music everywhere from a small coffee shop in Albany with 15 other people, to a crowded outdoor amphitheater with 25,000 people, to the main deck of a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean with 2000 music fans. Hey, we all have our addictions hobbies. 

Is music a big part of your life? How did you catch the music bug? What catches your interest?

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