Anyone who knows me knows how much I love music. I always have. When I was growing up, my parents had one of those console stereos that were popular in the 1950s and ’60s that were about 6 feet wide, with 4 “speakers” (I imagine most of these pieces for entertainment furniture only had 2 speakers and the others were decorative) and a lid that opened to reveal the controls. Otherwise, it was just a big piece of furniture that sat there. It was very retro, made from cherry wood, if I remember, and included a turntable that had 3 speeds, and an FM/AM radio. I have no idea where it came from, but it ended up in my bedroom, and ultimately in our beach house at Holden Beach. I think it was either donated or left with the house when we sold it in the 1980s. But when I was a young boy and had it in my bedroom, I turned it into a “radio station.”
I also had a ton of records, which largely were my mother’s old 45’s from her teenage years that she took to the beach house she went to growing up at Alligator Point. Chubby Checker, Little Richard, and all the hits from the 1950s and early ’60s. Back when Rock and Roll were embryonic. In a sense, I’ve followed rock and roll from its birth to its death which was arguably in the late 1990s. That’s a debate that’s ongoing, and something I should write about in another post. The computer, pro music, autotune, and a few other travesties were the cause.
Anyway, she also had a lot of opera, country (real country like Willie, Waylon, Hank, Patsy, and so on.) And a lot of other eclectic music, including Tiny Tim and Steve Martin. A lot of classical records on very thick vinyl as well, from the early 1900’s. So I got to hear a lot of variety.
My first venture into music I liked was Jimmy Buffet. I listened to him a lot and had all his records. You have to think back then, I lived in a town that had 2 record stores. The Record Bar at the mall, and another Newsstand, that was more famous for the magazines it carried in the backroom behind the beaded curtain. And most of the records were aimed at older teenagers who drove vans and liked to party. I was about 12 or 13 at the time. So music was limited. We had a radio station in town but they played pop music, which I’ve never liked. Back then, that was Journey, Billy Joel, Men at Work, Toto, Asia, and the tunes MTV played a lot of back when they played music videos.
I went off to boarding school and my musical life changed dramatically and for the better. I fell in love with the Grateful Dead, The Cure, The Violent Femmes, The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, REM, The Replacements, Husker Du, The Smiths(which are still an eternal favorite), and on and on with what was considered “Alternative.” No one outside of college and boarding schools listened to these bands because they were only played on college stations and you could only find the music near big colleges like UVa, where I hung out, mail order, and taped from friends. I remember it being years before anyone back home had heard of any of these bands. And that was also when trading Grateful Dead tapes was a huge hobby for people. I had about 120, which I treasured, and which were stolen while I was at college.
The Grateful Dead is still my favorite, but I’ve gone through phases where I listened to other musicians and groups intensely for years. The Allman Brothers are also an all-time favorite, but I have gotten into other artists that I wanted to learn to play on the guitar. Doing so requires listening to them a lot. Like Jack Johnson. I learned about every song of his. And not barely listen to him at all anymore. You can see what my listening habits are at LastFM, which keeps a record of most of my listening habits by “Scrobbling.” I used to have a program that kept a spreadsheet of every song I listened to with date, time, and other random data in Google Sheets as well, but I’m not sure if it still saves those. One thing LastFM doesn’t do is keep track of Grateful Dead bootlegs I listen to and have downloaded. So while I think I have about 150,000 hours of music tracked I’ve listened to, that doesn’t even include probably that much it hasn’t.
One band I’ve solidified in my all-time favorites is Radiohead, which I’ve written about here before. Although Thom Yorke is hyper-liberal, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, his musical genius is apparent. Radiohead’s commercial success always turned me off, like Creep and Fake Plastic Trees. But I learned that those songs don’t represent what they actually write and play, which is simply awesome.
So I was excited to find this gem on Radiohead’s website. There are a lot of performances from Coachella nd in France and here and there on Youtube, but this is a great one from 6-17-2017. Check it out!