When I was growing up we always had music going in our house. It was a weird mix of stuff because my parents each listen to very different kinds of music. My mom would play AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Tower of Power, and James Taylor. My dad would favor things like Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Elvis, The Beatles, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Both my parents were fans of Billy Joel, which would play a huge role in my musical appreciate later in life.
Actually, my whole family was always listening to music, and depending on who I was hanging around with I would listen to a lot of different things growing up. I’d listen to big band, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Rosemary Clooney when I was with my grandmother or The Ink Spots when I was with my grandfather.
When I hung out with my aunt and uncle I would hear all kinds of things. Different styles of jazz, like Chuck Mangione, Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, and Pat Metheny. Tons of 60’s and 70’s rock like the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and Pink Floyd.
All of this is to say I was raised with a love of music, not just one specific kind of music.
My sister and I were allowed to listen to anything we wanted when we were growing up. However, my mom’s “let your kids be their own people” values were definitely tested when my sister got really into George Michael during his “I Want Your Sex” era and when I fell in love with Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” album.
I remember her taking away that Madonna album so she could listen to it first. About a week later we got it back. I think she figured with me being all of 9 and my sister being 5 that we probably wouldn’t even understand it. Let’s just say that later that year when Madonna did her new famous “Like A Virgin” performance at the VMAs any confusion was quickly sorted out.
I would go on to discover a lot of different kinds of music when I was around 12/13. A neighbor from down the street that I met when I started junior high school would introduce me to new wave and goth. Then I’d find industrial, and early electronic like Kraftwerk, which lead to avant-garde rock. I’ve had a long love of shoegazer, art pop, dream pop, and all kinds of electronic music since. It’s it’s moody, ethereal, and involves synths I’m on board.
I loved artists like Lene Lovich and Grace Jones simply because they were so fucking weird.
And I was more or less obsessed with Lydia Lunch and Exene Cervenka for a while (and this book of prose-esque writings by them is like a prized possession of mine).
Music would inspire me to change my mind about pursuing a degree in special education. Instead I would go off to college at 17 to study journalism and radio with the dream of becoming a music reporter or concert reviewer. I quickly took an interest in A&R (i.e. Artists and Repertoire, which is basically talent scouting for record labels) while working almost daily at the college radio station.
Unfortunately all my music fueled career dreams were dashed when I was rejected for every job I applied for out of college.
Every radio station I applied to and sent my aircheck takes to said I sounded too young for on-air jobs and I that didn’t have any applicable skills for other jobs in the studio.
Every editor of every entertainment division for every newspaper I applied to said that I was too inexperienced, even for the most basic, entry level jobs. Despite being on the dean’s list all semesters but one, having a hefty article clipping collection that even including a short interview with Courtney Love post-Kurt’s death, winning two journalism awards, and being featured in the school’s literally book my final year, I wasn’t qualified for even writing up the week’s concert calendar.
I also would have been willing to try being a concert photographer, or whatever they call that.
I took all of these are various shows in the late 90’s.
These somewhat less impressive pictures are some shows from 2014 to 2018
So my first job out of college would be in the accounting department for a window manufacturer, something I was vastly unqualified for given I had to start my college career with a required high school math review course because I scored that low on the math portion of my entrance exams. On the flip side, I scored so high on the English portion that I got into the honors program (which came with snazzy special housing).
My love of music continued even if it never became my career. I had to take piano lessons as a kid but later I would teach myself guitar and various styles of hand drums. I also taught myself how to create digital music (even made a 4 song EP in 2002), and in 2016 I started playin the ukulele. My ukulele playing is really lazy man’s guitar playing, plus I play a lot of rock and metal. I refuse to play “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” it’s just too cliche.
I wanted to share this story because I’m going to begin a new post series centered on music called My Weekend Playlist (probably bi-weekly to start and then hopefully weekly). My intention is to create a new 13 (or so) song playlist on Spotify for each post and share some kind of insights, stories, and reflections inspired by that music. This idea came about because I couldn’t get “Rock You Like A Hurrican” by the Scorpions out of my head.
The reason, along with a playlist, will have to wait until next week.