More than just about anything else, listening to music has been a big part of my life.
Most of my more tangible memories from my childhood and beyond revolve around music. As a kid, I’d visit Jazz clubs in Baltimore with my parents and extended cousins; I remember hanging out with my dad during his practice sessions with the Jazz group that he was once a part of; and perhaps the fondest memory that I have with my father is of the time we went to an all-day Latin Jazz concert at Wolftrap and ended it that evening listening to Dizzy Gillespie (whom we both had actually met a few years earlier).
Music also informed my life as a young adult. A group of friends and I went to see the Monsters of Rock in DC in 1988, where we heard Van Halen, Metallica, Kingdom Come, The Scorpions and Dokken. Guns ‘n Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” featured pretty heavily at a party that I attended right before joining the Navy. As I mentioned before, “Heaven or Las Vegas” was in heavy rotation at the bar in South Philadelphia that I spent a lot of time at during my stay in that city; then there was Lollapalooza, where I got a chance to see a few of my favorite bands – Siouxsie and the Banshees, Living Colour, Nine Inch Nails – and one that would quickly become a new favorite – The Butthole Surfers – live. I even tried Body Count on for size for a little bit, but they really weren’t my thing.
I truly enjoy the social aspect of listening to music, especially when it is truly spontaneous. There was a Raggae Festival in Golden Gate Park that I happened upon during one of my excursions where, for one day, it was me just hanging out with a group of welcoming strangers just relaxing and chilling out for a few hours (no, I didn’t partake :) ). Lastly, there was a street festival in the Mission district that I found during another excursion; a Puerto Rican band set up shop in an alleyway and there was a group of us just dancing away for a solid three hours on a relaxed San Francisco spring day.
My dad’s musical tastes helped shape mine, particularly when it comes to Jazz. I get my appreciation for Miles Davis, Woody Herman, Stanley Clark and Herbie Hancock from him. I can also attribute the fact that I listen to Jefferson Starship, Steely Dan, Chicago and Donald Fagen to him as well.
Over the past few decades, though, family, friends and acquaintances have introduced me to a lot of new groups. One high school friend, Jeff, introduced me to Siouxsie and the Banshees; another, Calvin, introduced me to a Japanese metal band, Loudness. Yet another introduced me to Rush. When I was living with my good friends the Wachters right after moving out of my parents’ house a mutual friend, Paul, introduced me to King’s X. While in the Navy, various roommates had introduced me to Front 242, Ministry and Throwing Muses. One of my college friends gave me pretty much the entire Pixies catalogue. My brother Carter introduced me to The Up on In, Can and Trans Am.
More than they probably know, I have been influenced musically by some of the people that I have been in relationships with over the years. Sarah, my ex-wife, introduced me to Eric Darken and Cafe Noir, and she helped me get into The Orb and LTJ Bukem. The first woman that I dated upon moving to Seattle introduced me to The Aquabats. And Carrie has given me Sound Tribe Sector Nine and Emmylou Harris, whose rendition of “One Big Love” was one of the songs that played at our wedding.
All this is really just a long and convoluted way of me saying that at many of the best times in my life music has been present. Listening to my old favorites and finding new ones has long been a central joy of my life.