|Posted on September 1, 2010 at 12:31 AM|
Not/Quite Remembering: A Musical Odyssey Pt. 3
The College Years
In the Year 2000...
I Predict Awesome hair...
You know, it’s a good thing 2000 was a transitional year for me. I was wondering why I had difficulties remembering music from my freshman year. You think there would be a ton that helped bring out the memories of certain events or a song playing in the background somewhere.
So I checkout what was big in 2000. Want to know the hit makers? First off, know that the early 2000s were still recovering from the late 90s only with more Creed, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC (No Strings Attached came out this year) and Britney. It was also the year that unleashed Who Let the Dogs Out into the world. Lord help us. But as for solid, great, rock or rap? Honestly, I had to look up some charts and see what was popular...and boy did it not look good.
Apparently the Thong Song came out that year too...but there's one song I can kind of trace a lot of things back to.
A Specific Moment: Christmas 2000 - It was a bitter, cold winter then. The snow was thick and deep, stingy painful if you stood out in the chill too long, and I secretly smoked a few packs of cigarettes away from my parents as we filed into the church. We took a seat towards the front and a hushed silence came over the entire place. "I'll be Home for Christmas" played as my grandmother's casket is escorted to the alter. I'll never hear that song the same way again. I'd been to funerals before, but none with such a song connected to it.
Not a fan of holidays anymore.
Anyways, point being that, outside of that, this was the year that is completely blank to me, and only because I just didn’t care that much about music at the time. I still listened to a lot of my favorites, the only specific moment I can recall finally listening to the Smashing Pumpkins under-appreciated Adore album from 1998 the summer AFTER my freshman year, driving home after a summer job at night and loving it, which is kind of fitting considering they would break up shortly after the release of their other forgotten album Machina a little alter. I Started to listen to Nine Inch Nails a lot more, The Fragile and The Downward Spiral being a personal favorites from about this time and I'm still quite the fan to day. Stone Temple Pilots released a solid album in No. 4 and The Red Hot Chili Peppers became relevant again (the late 90s were not kind) with Californication but all and all, there was still a lot of bad music out there - lots of pop stuff that sounded alike and as for rap and hip hop, it was pretty much dead entirely by now. But all in all, it wasn’t until 2001, about my Sophmore year of college, where things started to change more.
2001 - And I Already Used the Space Odyssey Reference
It was now 2001. I was still going to class, but now living in my own apartment rather than the dorms, had a job as a waiter (which I quit about a year later) and found a hell of a lot more free time to really get into music thanks to the internet. Surprisingly, the radio started
A Specific Moment: 2001 - Around this time I finally had a slight direction of what I wanted to major in: journalism. More specifically broadcast journalism (which eventually included history, film and other minors). This was a year that The Strokes Is This It was released, and right in time for the 2001-2002 School year. Their first album was pretty much the soundtrack of this particular year for me, and most specifically listening to it before class, outside the studio where we shot various shorts/videos/etc... in wait. The Strokes, who came at a time when rock music was slowly reemerging from the depths of boy bands and rap-rock, really hit it all hard with a stripped-down, catchy and rather simple return to "rock basics." It helped put everything in perspective, and when I hear them and that album, I am right back there, sitting in my car, jamming out to awesome guitar riffs and catchy beats. Honestly, thanks to this little band, the likes of The Killers, Wolfmother, Jet and similar classic-sounding groups might not have happened at all. Considering I like those bands, that would have sucked royally.
A start of a new appreciation to classic rock sounds
New music and getting into older music as a result came from playing a constant game: “That band sounds like...” would lead to me listening to another band and on and on to the likes of The Flaming Lips which would lead to me listening to Wilco which would lead me listening to Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground etcetera, etcetera - and this went through many paths (that is only one example, throw in heavy metal, rap and all the rest in this trace-back experience) For quite a few years, this was how I explored music and finding new and old stuff, discovering what was good, what wasn't, what I was right in liking in the past and was not right, and just, overall, learning about music entirely and discovering new and exciting sounds as a result. Some old friends started to release some awesome albums too, that being Weezer with their Green Album which was their first new album in forever and Radiohead both Kid A (actually a very late 2000 release, but I didn't really discover it until I got back to college and went music shopping) and Amnesiac and within a few years, Green Day started to emerge as more than just a little punk band and deliver some interesting new sounds in their repertoire by the time American Idiot in 2004 reestablished them.
A Specific Moment: 2001 - I don't know why this memory keeps cropping up. It's pretty irrelevant and random, and I'm not a huge fan of the band either, but for some reason I always associate the song and the moment. I was home for the summer from college and my mother and I went to this little local hamburger joint. Strangely, it was a quasi-religious place (Virgin Mary statues, etc...) and, truthfully, we weren't that religious of a family, but it was place we really hadn't eaten at for years. So we went there, just her and I, ordered our burgers and grabbed a table. A song by Jimmy Eat World came up. it was a hit at the time, and though I cant' remember which of their hits it was (I think it was "The Middle" - their songs tend to sound alike) no matter what song I hear from that band on the radio, it takes me back to that small little moment with just me and my mom. It was a time that reflected back to my earlier childhood when it was just me and her also. I don't even like the songs of Jimmy Eat World that much.
In 2002 someone, I can't remember who, introduced me to the flaming lips thanks to their new release, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It fit perfectly in tune with what I was listening to at the time, so naturally I came to really, really love that album, found out more about their past releases (The Soft Bulletin being their other fantastic album, though I won't write-off their early stuff - it just wasn't the same in the same way that Radiohead's Pablo Honey wasn't the same to Kid A). I particularly found myself fond of this song:
Local boys represent - song about life and death.
The Decade Continues towards Better Music
From 2003 to my final years in college, I went absolutely crazy with music. And I’ll tell you why: working at a music store was the best thing to ever happen to me. Now it was all right there at my hands and, thanks to an awesome discount (cost for new CDs, half price for used CDs of which there were plenty) my music collection grew immensely. Everything came in at once now. Classic Rock, folk, instrumental, experimental...and now that a lot of the "bad" music was disappearing from the world, it made room for the likes of Coldplay, Death Cab for Cutie, Badly Drawn Boy, Keane, The White Stripes and the Arcade Fire. One, though, rocked my world like no other:
Too much good to talk about with Muse.
A Specific Moment: 2003 - "What the hell is that?" I asked myself as this eclectic, larger-than-life sound and screeching, high voice echoed through the music store's loudspeakers. It was like Radiohead and Queen got together and had a child - and seeing as how, by this point, I actually knew Queen beyond just Wayne's World, I found myself realizing I started looking at music quite differently since taking those classes and simply listening to everything that came down the pipe via the new job and the internet. It turns out this new band was Muse, often unplayed on the radio at the time (now overplayed, but I'm not complaining) and one of the guys at the music desk popped it in. I fell for it instantly and picked it up that day. It was their Absolution album which actually came out a few years before I eventually got my hands on it, and I had to have listed to that CD non stop for a good month, and to this day Muse remains a personal favorite full of variety, amazing talent and fantastic song writing.
From working at the music store, I now had access to every album I could ever want. The used CD collection there was always moving and new used stuff came in. Eventually, I had hundreds upon hundreds of CDs at my disposal ranging from a Led Zepplin box set collection (a gift from my parents actually) to film soundtracks such as O Brother Where Art Thou and Amelie to my desire to physically own every Bob Dylan, Beatles, Van Morrison and Rolling Stones album (which I succeeded in on all counts, though now in the era of MP3s it's rather pointless) with the likes of David Bowie, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground, The Kinks, The Band, The Clash, The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hendrix and Pink Floyd for good measure. The guys in the music section and behind the desk there also had music playing over the speakers in the store. This was music that wasn't quite played that much on radio, such as Wilco, Ben Harper, Iron and Wine, Interpol and classic rock that soon found a home with me, especially the likes of Van Morrison and Nick Drake - a more folk/classic sound that I still listen to more than just about anything to this day. Then you had a lot of Indie stuff, things like Cake, The Dandy Warhols, The Shins, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Modest Mouse etc...
Did You Just Gloss Over The Beatles?
Yes, I did, and probably shouldn't. They're the Beatles afterall. I think my first album of their I bought was the album Revolver, then a bunch of others after that but, primarily, I found a love for their later material: Revolver, The White Album and especially Abby Road are probably my favorites of theirs, but it's like picking your favorite children. Most people know The Beatles from their hits, but man...their entire albums were spectacular and only until really, really listening to them do you see just how talented they really were. I guess that can be said for a lot of bands like that - Stones and Zepplin as well - where people tend to just know them from the radio hits and not take the time to really listen to their albums. Now that I had the opportunity to do so, I have favorite songs from all these artists that people don't hear too often. Favorite Beatles song, you ask? Again, that's picking children, but this is certainly one of them:
"Across the Universe" "She's so Heavy" (the entire Abby Road medley, actually)"She's Leaving Home" and "Happiness is a Warm Gun" are up there too...I could go all day with this.
In addition to loving classic rock (seriously, name it) I suddenly had a strong affection towards the singer/songwriter type like Van Morrison, Nick Drake, and Elliot Smith along with David Gray and Aimee Mann and Gary Jules (thanks to Donnie Darko on the latter and Magnolia on the former). Songs about life and introspective. I think this had to do with my living alone and, at the end of the day, just relaxing and popping in something that was easy to listen to and, perhaps, a bit moving on top of it all. This also allowed me to go a bit back in time. I was suddenly listening to 80s bands like Oingo Boingo, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Talking Heads, U2 and the entire Wedding Singer soundtrack. That led to a strange love for hair metal. Now, if you don't know what hair metal is, it's pretty much this:
Yes, somebody woke up, looked in the mirror and said "dude this looks awesome."
It was dumb fun through and through with the likes of Def Leppard, Poison, Whitesnake, Cinderella, Skid Row, Hanoi Rocks, Ratt and, to an extent, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and Van Halen. That, coupled with other 80s rock like Chicago, Boston and Journey, I was reliving the decade I missed completely and was too young to get into. Like this blog, by listening to them, I was transported back in time to memories I'd forgotten, like when I suddenly remembered hearing "Don't Stop Belvin" in my Grandfather's office at his electrician company or visions of The Karate Kid suddenly creeping up when I heard Chicago (it was actually a Peter Cetera solo song, but same difference)
During this time, I also took more music classes in school. I soon found myself picking up Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Beethoven and Theloneous Monk. I checked out the likes of Stan Getz, Mozart and BB King, Muddy Waters and progressive rock like Dream Theater and the Mars Volta. With the music store (actually a music/movie/book store...and I’ll save the movies and books for another time) at my fingertips, I could find anything and everything, look online for “similar artists” and just go from there.
Thankfully, also around this time, rap and R&B started to re-emerge from awfulness. It wasn't perfect, and I'd take the early 1990s any day, but it was far better by 2003 and 2004 than it was in 1999 or 2000, that's for sure. I'll be honest, I can't say I listened to a lot of, though. I liked Alicia Keys, Brian McKnight, surprisingly enjoyed Justin Timberlake, Outkast and yes even Kanye West who might talk the talk, but he walks the walk too, folks. I never would listen to the rap genre again, though. There's some talent there, don't get me wrong, but I think the early 90s was a more "right place, right time" era. Now, I'll listen to it if it's on, but rarely seek out on my own to enjoy and even if it is on, I'll switch it over to the old school station to listen to some Wu Tang.
So that's how it all was for the remaining years of college. It was an ongoing cycle thanks to the job at the music store combined with an internship at a sports talk radio station where my knowledge of music came into play to help update their intro and outro "bumpers" for segments. A good coincidence, I think. Still, though, it all had to end sometime.
Around this time, MP3s were starting to really make it big.
A Specific Moment: 2006ish - It was summer, I had just graduated from college and had no idea what I was going to do. I poured a nice glass of wine and went out on the balcony of my one-bedroom apartment. The night was hot, humid and the sound locusts filled the night air. Stars stretched across the sky. They were clear and vibrant and easy to see due to my apartment just nestled on the far end of my college town where the lights weren't as apparent. I poured a glass of wine, lit a small outdoor citronella candle to keep the gnats off my legs and sat back on my patio chair. I clicked play on my remote:
Van Morrison's Moondance album began. It was always in my CD player, but it really didn't hit me until this night. The first track: And It Stoned Me - a story about childhood and the dreams we had versus the dreams we have yet to achieve. Like Van's experience in the song itself - time seemed to stand still. The world hushed, became quiet as I closed my eyes and wondered where it would all lead me. Then it would be followed up with the likes of Into the Mystic and the poetic Crazy Love. It's strange an album that was big in the 1970s is probably the one album I associate with this time in my life. Turns out I'm still sitting there, in a way. My eyes are still closed and I'm still trying to figure this whole thing called life out.
Moving on Up
I first moved to California in the fall following my graduation earlier that Spring. It was a risk and I don't regret it, even though I'm still in the process of working everything out.
In what I would consider a booked of sorts to Van Morrison, an artist and album that marks an old life, I consider the following the other end. It's a song about retrospective. I had heard it before, and liked the band, but this one came at just a right time...Specific Moment time, folks
A Specific Moment -2006: Some dive bar in some random little town in Oklahoma. All I know is taht it was myself, my parents, my aunt and two uncles at a bar. I was a few weeks away from moving to California and my aunt played Led Zepplin's Going to California from the jukebox. I remember a lot of questions like "What will you do when you get there?" and "Do you have anything lined up?"
"I don't know," I said, and "I'll figure it out when I get there."
So, off to California and on a plane, a newly bought MP3 player loaded with a ton of songs and a long flight with a layover in Colorado. During this time, I seemed to go through every single kind of music I could possibly have and that I'd accumulated over the past 25 plus years. From the 80s new wave and hair metal to 1990s one hit wonders and bands I grew up with and a ton of classic rock and singer songwriters that made it all, in a way, my own Almost Famous soundtrack of life.Eventually, all those songs and music carried me to a new place where I had no clue what I was doing, but I did get introduced to a fairly new side of music when I landed: a stronger indie-rock scene.
Living in Cali
A Specific Moment -2006: I was sitting in my sister's car, having just moved to Long Beach California, and this song came on the radio. I recognized it immediately, and as it began my sister left to go into a building and drop off some paperwork. It was a warm day, this is California you know, and the windows were down and I just had the thing playing. Considering the writer of the song wrote it as a representation of him leaving his job, hometown and old life behind, I found it all over again. Before that, it was just "that cool song from Garden State."
Between this movie and stuff by Wes Anderson, my indie playlist was ever growing
In California, you pretty much had three stations: the classic rock station - perfect. Played everything you could ever want from a classic rock station. The alt/regular rock station playing stuff from the 1990s to today, with some 80s New Wave and 70s punk (Ramones, Clash) thrown in for good measure. They play a little too much of SoCal bands, though, especially Sublime and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Then you had the indie station, Indie 103, which played stuff that rarely, if ever, got radio play. I first took notice of them because they were really the first station I'd ever heard that actually played Muse. Then that got me into lots of indie stuff, especially bands that incorporated electronica into their sounds (LCD Soundsystem, Sparklehorse, Shiny Toy Guns, Metric, MGMT, Datarock, Rogue Wave, Passion Pit etc...) and very indie music like Wolf Parade, Liars, Sufjan Stevens, Coconut Records, Grizzly Bear, the Airborne Toxic Event, Feist, Phoenix, The Subways (who I'm surprised aren't bigger in the states than they are) Mute Math, Peter Bjorn and John, Mumford and Sons, Kings of Conveniece (a modern day Simon and Garfunkel, if you will) and Vampire Weekend all over the next four/five years.
I also worked, via the internet, as an A&R scout for a music talent agency. Paid under the table and found some very, very, very small bands that, to be honest, I don't qutie remember all that well.
Eventually Indie 103 became defunct, but the internet more than made up for it just as it did in college. So, from about 2007 or so to now, that's pretty much my musical journey. It's incorporated every facet and genre, though you've probably noticed I have not once mentioned country. That's because for over twenty years, that's a genre that was always around me, and I just got sick of it due to overexposure. I don't dislike country, I actually like bluegrass and that "old timey" style of country music, but I don't always seek it out either. Just not my thing.
Wow, that's quite a lot of stuff, isn't it? And to think that this is just a quick rundown of a lot of it, I could go on and on. So how much of that do I still listen to over the past three parts and what assortment of songs would I consider to define my life? Well, the first part is easy enough to answer, I can just take a look at my ipod and see everything from Led Zeppelin to M83 to Warren G, but the second part...that's going to take a lot of thinking. So look for Part 4 sometime that will cover those two elements. I can't say when, that second list is going to be tough as it's not a "desert island" favorites list. If that were the case, I wouldn't strongly be considering Third Eye Blind.