There are three things that ruled my pre-adult life.
Not necessarily in that order.
Only one of those passions is still relevant to my life. I’ll let you guess which.
The memories I have of running around the house singing “help me Rhonda, help help me Rhonda” is mostly of my parents telling me I did so. What I do remember is my parents borrowing a friends Beach Boys record to copy it onto a cassette so I could wear that thing out.
I can remember my father singing Dear Abby by John Prine before I knew what New Kids on the Block were about.
“When I go driving, I stay in my lane!” Ned, meet Offspring says an elementary school friend.
When I was in grade 6 or so, I used to play street hockey with my older neighbors on the daily. One of them played guitar and I got word he made one of my friends a mixed tape. So, naturally I brought over a blank tape and asked him to make me one of the most metal tapes he could piece together.
I believe that tape pretty solidly changed my life. I’d listen to it every night falling asleep with my in-ear headphones from my Sony Walkman waking up with incredibly sore and sensitive insides of my ears from sleeping on them. I got the point, and started then through an old tape player propped just above my head in my bed.
For the better part of my teen years, I refused to listen to anything but metal music. I played a Gibson guitar through a Marshall half stack, usually with overdrive turned up. I knew the history of AC/DC. I drew the electric chair from the cover of Metallica’s Ride the Lightening album inside my high school text books. Tony Iommi, Zakk Wylde, Slash, Dimebag, Angus Young, Tom Morello.. these were the guys on my wall and singing to me night and day, and Jimi Hendrix always held the top seat.
I would fall asleep to music, I’d wake up to music. I remember my younger brother always getting so upset because no matter how low I turned my music he could still hear it rumbling across the hall as he tried to go to sleep.
One day my dad told me: “Ned, how come you turn your nose up at other music, how come you listen to only metal? What good does it do you being a music elitist, a music snob?”
Since then I’ve really never looked back. I actually felt it quite insulting when an old girlfriend told me she thought I was completely mainstream. Sure, I like a lot of popular musicians, they are popular because they are actually that good at what they do. Like them, buy them, support them so they can do more good stuff. It makes sense.
Bad bands are pretty easy to weed out, and I see no reason to listen to them just because they’re not popular.
I like good music, and it’s entirely subjective.
Today I’ll give anything a go. I’ve gone through phases, sure. I’ve explored the rap of the 90s, trying to understand the difference between West Coast and East Coast. JayZ is my motivation music. Bob Marley is who I like to make eggs to. Ben Harper caresses me when I need to feel the sweet blood of sorrow. Xavier Rudd brings me to the beach man. Tchaikovsky makes me dream big, and Mozart always reminds me of a mid winter’s dream. The Avett Brothers give me unbounded hope is my romantic inclinations. Ryan Bingham is a great road companion, so is Ben Howard, First Aid Kit, and Gregory Alan Isakov. I’ve been getting into Northern Cree tribal chants because it makes the skin tingle on the back of my neck, and so does a good sitar song; Chants of India by Ravi Shankar I think is one of the most beautiful and important musical pieces ever produced. Don’t even get me started on the Blues.
I remember when my younger cousin I was really close with – he lent me my first guitar when he went to Japan for a year – passed, at his wake I think it was his brother who talked about how he used to put a soundtrack on for everything: washing dishes, doing laundry, going for a drive, shooting hoops. Every activity was always preceded with some music.
Much like my cousin, I feel that music is one of the most beautiful gifts we’ve been handed in our modern digital age of portable electronics, though it scares me to think that perhaps as humans we may stop making music ourselves and have it artificially animated for us.
I’ve been trying to start humming my own music when there is no other music on. I don’t want to say that my music has died inside of me, because it hasn’t. But I can clearly remember the day when I accepted the fact that I was starting to get other interests in my life, like painting, and photography.
I guess I’ve shifted my dream of being a music star, to just being aware of how valuable music is to my every step in life.
I believe music is one of the most important things for my soul, as it has the power to move me like very little else does. There is nothing so consistently there for me as music has always been.