My dad used to sing me Neil Young and Uncle Remus.
Then he showed me David Bromberg, The Rolling Stones and Tchaikovsky.
I was at my neighbor’s house when Black Dog gave my little boy body wide-eyed convulsions.
There was a Tuesday afternoon elective at my school called “Beatles and Drawing.” It was a half hour of listening to the Beatles and drawing whatever you wanted. I was 9 years old. MLC…sigh.
I was a 10 year old when my friend mentioned that his big brother bought Kill ‘Em All and it took me 2 more years of Madonna and New Wave until I finally understood what he said that day.
My first concert was George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers at Portland’s Civic Auditorium in 1986. The following year my dad took me to my first indie show, Screaming Trees with The Dwarves at Pine Street Theater. That’s how cool my dad was.
When my family broke up I moved schools and went from being raised among the culture of the city to now having to explore adolescence deep in the Eastside suburbs, my life took a serious turn. My lifelines were License To Ill, Legacy of Brutality, N.W.A. Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables, It Takes A Nation and in the 8th grade my friend brought over G.B.H., Jimi Hendrix, L7 and Slayer records and we played them all until the needle broke and my brain melted like soft ice cream.
I was neck-deep in a suburban white neighborhood and it was then that I realized I could either be a product of my bland environment or make a conscious decision to live and think for myself.
Anything that flaunted the system and mocked the establishment, the music that protested corruption, oppression and used passion and adrenaline to express their discontent was music I subsisted on, endlessly blaring into my Walkman. I was an only child who just lost his mother and was now living an hour-long bus ride away from the comfort of downtown. Music was the only thing I listened to because I certainly wasn’t hearing any of my teachers or relatives.
My friend at Tower Records told me to buy Pretty Hate Machine. I bought it on title alone.
I showed my best friend the Marshall Mathers LP when it first came out and we played it continuously in his 88 Mustang GT.
A friend came to my house and she showed me Glass Animals.
I went to my friend’s house and she showed me 21 Pilots.
Though words and pictures are like my harem, it is music that leads my beautiful life from darkness into today.