Recap: I was challenged by one of my friends in EMU Choir to participate in one of those “14 Songs in 14 Days” kind of things, where you list or discuss 14 pieces of music that have had a profound impact on your life! Seeing as to how I have an abundance of time on my hands that I’m using only semi-usefully to this point in the quarantine/ isolation, I figured why not step up my game a bit and use this challenge as the theme of a blog post series. For the entire series, click here.
Alright, now the gettin’s gettin’ good.
Or something like that. After the struggles of yesterday’s brainstorm to figure out what music from the middle/high school band days left the biggest impact, I’m back at you today with the pop/rock/funk, etc. that started to shape my earliest individual musical identity.
I mentioned yesterday that middle school was the time when I started to develop my own musical identity, and then focused particularly on my days as a trumpet player from 6th grade to high school graduation. But the second half of my early/individual musical identity formed—in large part thanks to being in the high school marching band, going on SO many long bus rides to football games and marching competitions—because of buying a bass guitar in 7th (ish?) grade and buying a SONY Discman to be able to listen to CDs like kids today constantly hooked into the bluetooth headphones streaming music from the ether, er…cloud. (It was quite possibly this model, still available for purchase on Amazon!)
And what was I listening to?
Well, a lot! But often, a lot of the same variety of stuff: Contemporary Christian Music (dc Talk, Jars of Clay, Caedmon’s Call, OC Supertones, Third Day, Mercy Me, Reliant K, Casting Crowns….you know, all the standards—music I still have in iTunes even today), “Progressive” Rock and Classic Rock (this was at my bandmates’ encouragement, since Whitehall was a prog rock garage band after all—Dream Theater, Coheed & Cambria, Liquid Tension Experiment, Rush, Queen, Boston, Eric Clapton, Guns N’ Roses, a bit of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne), and other random stuff (like Parliament Funkadelic, the Moody Blues, a lot of crazy guitar and bass players like Buckethead… Ya know, just enough of the “scary stuff” to make the parents worry…😉)
But the group that made the longest lasting impression—with no offense to the artists above, many of whom I still listen to—has to the group that started it all: The Beatles. I had a poster of them in my bedroom for the longest time, and if I had to guess I’ve heard most if not all of their songs at one point or another, though I only own a handful of their albums.
While I grew up listening to the “oldies” station while riding with my parents as a kid (mainly Dad…I seem to recall he preferred the oldies station to WCMT most of the time in the beat up 1984 Dodge Ram), The Beatles stand out as worthy of a 14 Songs/14 Days post because of my love of and learning from Paul McCartney’s bass guitar playing (remember, this was right around the time I started learning to play…and boy did I want one of those Hofner violin basses), the sheer contagiousness of their music (my first album was 1, the album of all their No.1 Chart toppers in the US & UK), and the variation in their music as they matured as artists later in the ’60s (okay, yes, lots of drugs were involved in their process as we all know…)
So out of literally hundreds of songs, how does one choose the one or two top favorite songs that made a lasting impact? (Dang near impossible, I say!)
But I’ll start with the one that really started it for me—”Yellow Submarine,” which first came to my attention through going to Camp Mack Morris for Boy Scout Camp. I’m not sure which of the other guys it was that knew it and taught it to us (not really by choice, but just because he sang it all the time!) but I’m betting it was Peter. Of course, after learning this one at scout camp (complete with the extra vocals not sung like “Captain, Captain” and the yelled echos on the last verse, naturally!) I had to learn more about them, even though my parents didn’t have any of their albums. That’s probably another reason I say they figure in so heavily into my own personal musical identity—I’m sure my parents aren’t opposed to The Beatles!) but I/we didn’t listen to them on a regular basis until that Discman came my way…
The second choice, if I’m allowed one, is so tough. For multiple reasons, I want to go with “The Long and Winding Road” from Beatles 1 but I’m going to cheat and go with the entire second half of the album Abbey Road, called either “the B-side” (from the record, obviously) or “Abbey Road medley” because the songs all fit together seamlessly and are often included on Paul McCartney’s live tours as a single set. There was one particular live version of this from McCartney’s tours that I used to listen to nearly every day in my undergrad when times were tough… alone in my apartment or in the student newspaper office where I worked, I’d crank it up and sing along, of course, hoping that after the 15 or so minutes was up that things would be a little better. It helped tremendously through some tough stuff. So naturally, now I can no longer find that specific live performance any more! In this case, the deluxe album version will have to suffice (with slightly different song order and some fancier guitar/keyboard parts over the original album version!)
Time permitting (and really, where else do you have to be right now?) promise me you’ll take some time today and listen all the way through.