something to sing along to


my first musical memory is (i kid you not) andrew lloyd weber songs. i remember being in my parents’ pinto and hearing the soundtracks to jesus christ superstar and hair. my second musical memory is watching hee-haw with my dad. my mom is from west virginia and both my parents loved the original grand ole’ opry type of country music. my mom because it was what she heard growing up, my dad because he could hear the roots of the rock n roll he grew up with in it.

my parents moved right from showtunes about hippies to disco. talk about nature or nuture. all i heard from like 5-9 years old was village people, abba, donna summer and blondie. my parents were total disco addicts – they and their friends would dump all of us kids off at one house for a “sleep over” while they all went out to “dance” and who knows what else on what were probably coke-fueled all nighters. the only relief from the disco was the flamenco music my dad and granddad would play.

then my parents moved into the urban cowboy phase and our house was filled with the crappy beginnings of what is now pop country music mixed supplemented by the the queens of country: tammy wynette, loretta lynn, dolly parton, etc.

it was at this age i started to discover music for myself. first it was just what i heard on the radio: styx, journey, air supply and a bunch of other post rock mopey guitar music. then nickelodeon launched. back then nick was for teens, not tweens. and there was this show “livewire” with fred perry (there was also the tomorrow people too!!!). livewire was like merv griffin for kids. it was a talk show and every day there was a musical act. but not musical acts i heard on the radio. it was all the early to mid 80s punk and new wave bands. i saw germs, fear, elvis costello, depeche mode, the plasmatics and more. and i loved all of it. i finally found music i could get into. and i did. all through late middle and high school this was all i listened to. the only exception would be hanging out my junior and senior year with a bunch of kids who loved metallica (which i dug) who tried to get me into a bunch of hair metal bands (which i all despised).

the moral of the story is that i completely missed the classic era. i never heard any of it. i didn’t know about lynrd skynrd until college, and i honestly didn’t know they did that freebird song or what it sounded like until grad school. i hate pink floyd and led zeppelin. (i hate pink floyd more). so my view of rock is rathered (1) uninformed and (2) weird. but there are certain songs that might (or might not) be classified as rock anthems that i like simply because they’re stupid and i know the words. i know other folks who like these same songs. they are the kind of songs we all want to sing at karaoke. but i think that other people are embarrassed that i like these songs.

so i admit it. i like more than a feeling and don’t fear the reaper. i will sing bon jovi’s dead or alive at the top of my lungs if i’m sure those nearby can tolerate it. i still remember the words to most of journey’s cheesy ass songs. and not embarrassed to admit it. i have to believe that all the good songs i know and love more than make up for these guilty pleasures.


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