The Taste of Music

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.

On those bus rides I understood why some people listen to bubblegum pop and others just…don’t.

I found this and this at the record store while dropping out of college. Twice.

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.

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Random Acts of Rambling Both Nurturing and Damaging

I’m smooth today. A good razor makes the sun just float down my flesh like warm water along the skin of a baby softened by a dusk in July.

This past summer in my city was relentless in its heat and wickedness, an unbelievable onslaught of asphalt swelter that drove us all towards whatever wetness we could sniff out. Now in the midst of autumn the blue sky has become a true stranger in a land known for soft overcast and since up is now down and right has become wrong, no rule left holds water or carries weight.

There is no better friend than one that tells you you’re truly being foolish.
There is no better enemy than one that continues to behave purely foolish.

Is it yet established that Tool is one of the greatest bands in the world but one of the worst live shows in the universe?

My fanciest camera was stolen today. Though machinery can be replaced, the images on that memory card cannot be and that’s a far larger tragedy than the fact that some sad-sack douche bag lifted one of my most prized possessions. The crummy feeling of helpless violation is a nasty thing to try to shake off.

Why does texting stress me out? Why do I feel compelled to immediately answer and if I don’t the weight of anxiety presses my shoulders into a forlorn slouch that can only be remedied by me thumbing over my phone, appeasing each message with some obligatory vacuous  reply?

Purely rhetorical.

45 Years Ago Today

Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix.

All else is just music. Background. Filler. These four saved my sanity and the streets of this town by allowing me to vent, reminisce, dream and plot and everyone should recognize the wonderful magnitude of influence of these four musical acts.

Jimi died 45 years ago  today

Most of everyone else on that list is still alive and well. Except Jim Morrison. And of course, MCA.

This world sometimes takes the most interesting people away from us before we can possibly comprehend how incredible they are.

Other times this world takes the most amazing and beautiful people away while they’re at their absolute height of pure talent and wondrous influence.

Dang it.

Rage

Peaceful Pistol

Let’s have a brief talk about Rage Against The Machine. My absolute adoration with this band goes beyond all things I consider important in terms of musical science or their talent for playing varied styles of rock, punk, funk, metal, soul and hip-hop.

I’ve little idea about how to explicate why this musical band is so fundamentally sound or how each of their songs tremendously evolve from the first intro and hook to the final pounding note. Like a thrown fist through a Molotov cocktail.

Rage rocks so much beautiful, angry violence that when their music plays, I swallow pride and relinquish all possession of physical restraint. Rage’s music makes us want to learn, enlighten and burn things down. We find brutal passion in Rage’s songs, we dig in our bowels and bring our frustration and fury to the surface like smashmouth weapons, seeking to slaughter those who turn blind…

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Records and CD’s Rule

The smell of those new labels, the ink barely dry inside the plastic case, the tattered used bootlegs and rarities hidden among aisles and shelves of innumerable varieties of music, the fluorescent lights that glow from the inside this indistinct square building and bleed onto the street side until late into the night is what I love.

I am often the reason why friends wind up waiting, god knows how many times women become exasperated at the lack of attention they may receive while watching this furious perusal of beautiful music. Or maybe it’s because their drinks have worn off at the same time I’m just getting started.

The clicking of the plastic cases as people’s hands rummage through rows and rows of used cd’s, through random types of music that somehow find themselves aside each other, waiting to be bought, brought home and played at dangerous decibels.

Music nerds understand the import of a good bootleg, a rare single of a demo of some dead obscure rock god may fetch some astounding price and it all makes sense when they rush home and feed their record player this gem and lay back and listen until they become drooling messes.

Tattooed mechanics (Old 97’s), middle-aged lovers (Kitaro), suburban mothers and daughters (Gaga, of course), all strolling the same grounds looking for more reasons to not just download, but to actually add something tangible to their collection. Or perhaps just soaking up the colors and designs of the varied album covers and posters, sometimes music is as much visual as it is aural. Everyone from every level and dimension of society walking and rummaging for what fascinates them regardless of any other element outside the doors of the store, they all love their music and they’re all here for the that reason.

This wide open jungle of music that travels all over the universe is one of the most glorious places on the planet, part museum, gallery, amusement park, and a whole little bit of heaven. Open ’til midnight everyday. It says so on the door.

Rage

Let’s have a brief talk about Rage Against The Machine. My absolute adoration with this band goes beyond all things I consider important in terms of musical science or their talent for playing varied styles of rock, punk, funk, metal, soul and hip-hop.

I’ve little idea about how to explicate why this musical band is so fundamentally sound or how each of their songs tremendously evolve from the first intro and hook to the final pounding note. Like a thrown fist through a Molotov cocktail.

Rage rocks so much beautiful, angry violence that when their music plays, I swallow pride and relinquish all possession of physical restraint. Rage’s music makes us want to learn, enlighten and burn things down. We find brutal passion in Rage’s songs, we dig in our bowels and bring our frustration and fury to the surface like smashmouth weapons, seeking to slaughter those who turn blind eyes to the unspeakable plight of others.

I could write all night about why this band is sick beyond all comprehension and how their sound became a vision of political outrage and musical evolution, but I’m assured that it’s all been done.

All I can introduce is how this band reminded me of how terrible American foreign and domestic policy can be and how sometimes the only way to think is to rock and how the only way to live is to scream.