The first truly co-ed parties I remember started the summer after 6th grade. With the exception of pool parties, these events always seemed to involve poodle skirts and white t-shirts rolled up at the sleeve as we danced awkwardly to the music of another era. Our parent-chaperones relived their youth to the sounds of The Big Bopper and Jerry Lee Lewis as they sipped on spiked punch in the kitchen.
I liked the music well enough, but it dawned on me that there must be something more. It wasn’t long before discovering CCR’s Chronicle vol. 1 & 2 on cassette, and I ran the ribbon raw with “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” “Walk On The Water” and “Run Through The Jungle.” Sure, I also liked “Suzie Q,” “Proud Mary” and “Looking Out My Backdoor,” but I was craving something a little more disorderly.
About that time, I invaded my brother’s collection of records, tapes and new-fangled CDs and was awakened to all things British. I listened to everything I could find from The Beatles, The Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen. I most loved singing along with Morrissey’s depressed choirboy vocals beginning with “Reel Around the Fountain” and going straight through to “Paint A Vulgar Picture.” I was shocked and ashamed to discover that the band had already broken up by the time I heard The Queen Is Dead.
Then I went to a Phish show at Red Rocks. All I can say is: epic.
I was forever changed. After buying the entire catalog on CD I learned that you could go into certain record stores and ask for the “Italian imports,” whereupon the clerk would reveal a hidden stash of live bootlegs from under the counter. I saw Widespread Panic at the HORDE tour and indeed my horizons of rock developed further.
On my first date with my wife, she introduced me to The Black Keys with a compilation CD from The Big Come Up and Rubber Factory. Even though I was hearing it for the first time, it was like I had always known each song. A year later when Attack and Release came out, “All You Ever Wanted” became our song.
Back in college, I would set my alarm clock every day to a random track from Mozart’s Requiem.
Today, I begin my jogging routine the same way every time with “The Divided Sky” off Phish’s debut album.
I can recite the entirety of Vivaldi’s aria “Nulla In Mundo Pax Sincera” in my head even though I don’t understand most of the words.
I’ve played in several bands with my friends, and now I stumble along on a melodica playing Stan Getz tunes to my daughter.
So why do I love music? Because I can barely remember what clothes I was wearing two days ago, but all of these memories are lodged permanently and warmly in my brain. They are as much a part of me as my skin.
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