Since I was a child, music has shaped who and what I am.
I would have to say it started when my brother Terry use to play “Name That Tune” with my siblings and neighborhood kids. It was 1974 or 1976, somewhere around there. We would sit in a small room that was my brother’s. Terry had more records and albums than anyone I knew, he had everything. We would sit there as he put records on the record player and compete for Monopoly money. I was hooked!
He would play the songs and we would have to guess what and who….just like the old TV Game Show…”Name That Tune”. We would listen to songs like The Bay City Rollers’ Saturday Night, Sweet’s Fox On The Run, Aerosmith’s Dream On, Cheep Trick’s I Want You to Want Me, Surrender …you name it Terry had it. At the end of the game we would get to go head to head for 60 seconds and try to guess as many songs as we could. Sometimes we would play this over and over again and again for the whole day.
I had a good friend tell me that music is my therapy. I never thought about this before that day, I now believe this to be true. I use it to help me cry, to laugh. I use it to make me feel alive, I use it when I’m in love or when I just need excitement. The words in music speak to me. I realize my close friends don’t understand my musical tastes, because sometimes they look at me like I’m crazy. My musical taste though have expanded beyond that of Clyde (where I grew up) and Fremont, Ohio, away from AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd (although I still listen once in a while).
The first year I spent in the Marine Corps my roommate was Rick Chirigotis. Rick was a Marine from Simi Valley, California. If you’ve ever seen the movie “Valley Girl” (1983) (gag me with a spoon), then you know exactly where Rick grew up (and still lives near by). It was Rick who expanded my musical taste…from the first day we met. I came into his room and dropped my gear (sea bag…clothes,for the non knowing) and sat down in the chair only to hear “Hey, get off my Depeche Mode tape” in a high squeaky “Valley Tone” voice. Only later to find out that I would have been just as mad if that had happened to me. Rick taught me the likes of the aforementioned Depeche Mode along with; The Cure, The Clash, The Smiths, Echo and The Bunnymen, New Order, Oingo Boingo, OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) and The Pixi’s. It was from there I learned of groups that changed my life; The Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Dead Kennedy’s, Suicidal Tendencies (from my friend Don Franz). I knew now that my life would never be the same without music. It was from here that led me to the whole LA underground scene. To the Whiskey A Go-Go and The Roxy and back-ally underground clubs that would be there one week and gone the next.
Music will change your soul, if you let it in. My go to music right now is Linkin Park. The vocals of Chester Bennington and rhymes of Mike Shinoda reach into my soul with lyrics like;
And when I close my eyes tonight
To symphonies of blinding light
God save us everyone,
Will we burn inside the fires of a thousand suns?
Like memories in cold decay
Transmissions echoing away
Far from the world of you and I
Where oceans bleed into the sky
As I hear these words echo in my mind, I wonder to thoughts of …past relationships, to where the world might be heading, to the things I’ve done, to the things I haven’t and to the changes in me that’s made me the man I am.
Music is a Date Stamp in my head. You name a song and I will tell you what I was doing when I heard it. The next time you hear music that is new to you, don’t turn the dial. Stick around and listen, listen to it as though your life depended upon it. Let it reach into your soul. It just might change your life forever, it just might save your life!