Saturday, May 22, 2010

Music Is Magic

Troy Palmer is a fake internet friend I've never met in real life. But we share a common bond in that we often enjoy the same type of music, movies and art. Plus dude is fond of wearing makeup and who can't love that? (Oh, I remember, my entire family when I went through my goth phase.)

But Troy wrote the most amazing rant. He pretty much explained how one's musical appreciation defined one's self. I gotta agree. The songs who shaped who I am, laid out in chronological order, tell the tale way better than I can in words.

Okay, I'm four years old and I'm listening to the radio. Tommy Roe's 'Dizzy' speaks to me so much that I beg my older brother to go and buy me the 45. (Yes, I am that fucking old.) He does and I am forever thankful. Jump cut eons later; someone has taken this very song and fused it with Disney cartoons on the Internet:

Call me crazy, but when a four-year-old relates to lyrics: "My head is spinning/it's like a whirlpool/it never ends" this might be a big, red flag.

My next music memory was the theme song to The Banana Splits. I enjoyed the music but even moreso I enjoyed life-sized puppet costumes. Why I am not a Furrie remains a mystery. Here are The Dickies doing the song I loved so much:

Life progressed and so did Saturday morning TV. I was a kid eating cereal in front of the television,watching Lidsville. While, again, the life-size puppets caught my fancy there was something, something about the bridge to the theme song that made sense to me in a pure audio format. My older brothers played Steppenwolf and Jesus Christ, Superstar but somehow this middle section, featuring maniacal laughter and total psychedelia clamped onto my soul and made me more a hippie than they ever were (aside from my lack of recreational drugs.) When Butch Patrick fell into the hat, the sonic onslaught showed me music didn't have to be what was on the radio.

Music was pretty boring compared to that. But some years later I discovered ELO's 'Fire on High' which wasn't like the shit on the radio but more like the middle bridge to the Lidsville theme:

I'd discovered sypmphonic rock. Three chords and the truth just didn't do it for me. I wanted bombastic, out there, larger than life spectacle. Which of course led me to Queen:

There was something about that Freddie that was damn appealing I just couldn't put my finger on.

A couple years rolled on and I found this cat named Gary Numan:

Wow. Some straight guy playing the part of an android queer helped me get my shit together.

So after that I suppose in order to seem cool and all I'm not supposed to mention this chapter of my life. But I liked it and, god help me, I still do:

So really, if you were this really strange band but were able to sell out because of your pretty boy looks and reinvent yourself as a teen sensation and make millions, wouldn't you do it? I would. Marketing savvy made them seem lame but the music was always ok. Least I think so. But in addition to the top-40 stuff I'd also discovered the import bin at the local mall record store and was starting to find some really cool stuff:

What was strange was that stuff that was absolutely American, red white and blue music ended up in the "import" bin just because it wasn't played on the radio.
This was where I discovered The Meatmen. Here they are doing a Gary Glitter cover:

The Meatmen used to play Columbus then go hang out at the local gay bar. They weren't gay; I think it was their way of being able to go out after a show and get shitfaced without people bugging them. Well, except for me. But they were all funny and decent and very friendly to the one guy who knew who they were. Of course, Tesco walking around shirtless got them more attention than they bargained for and it had nothing to do with fame.

So I looked like a punk at the time but actually enjoyed many types of music. I discovered Orchestral Manouvres In The Dark and quickly became a huge fan, at least before John Hughes convinced them they should be pop stars.

I became a fan of what at the time was called "progressive music", yet another term
for what young people are listening to in order to distance themselves from what
their parents and older brothers like. The terminology changes every five years or
so but always serves the same purpose. My favorite band to fill this need at the time was Xymox:

Then Skinny Puppy came along and took me and everyone to a whole other world.

Industrial music was the name of the game. So many good bands and tunes:

But Industrial wasn't my everything. I just liked anyone doing music who did their own strange thing. Pop music could be damned strange, too, I noticed.

Right around this time I discovered Edward Kaspel and the Legendary Pink Dots. They never fit into any category because they're always changing. I imagine this is a big part of the whole appeal.

I listened to old CDs and music for me got kind of stale. Then a short-lived scene called shoegazing came around and sounded like the inside of my head:

Right about this time I started making my own music. I read an interview with
someone, I forget who, in a magazine and they said if you want to find out what
someone's music sounds like, ask them their five favorite bands. I hope more than
anything this sounds like Gary Numan, Chapterhouse, Pink Floyd, The Meatmen and LPD were stuffed in a studio together and forced to play nice:

Spookshow In Your Pants--Warm Feelings

Music started to accelerate, though, thanks to the internet. Some Japanese kid doing stuff in his bedroom is better than anything on the radio or for sale. Everyone who's always taken pride in loving music has become an instant idiot just because there's too much out there for any one person to keep track of. You can't know it all and contrast and compare anymore. Sure, you can do this with stuff on the radio and supposedly obscure indie magazines...but if it's in a magazine it's hardly obscure, since no doubt some guitar geek on YouTube you've never heard of has racked up half a million hits.

Living in the here and now, I still like what I'm told is pop culture, even though I don't buy it.

It just goes on. The music reflects me. I don't find it. It finds me.

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