Monday, July 11, 2011

You can tell a lot about a man by his music

(I'm warning you right now: I use some "bad words" in this blog. Most of them are part of the titles of albums and songs, but not all of them).

I recently started thinking about musical tastes: What I listened to, what I publicly admit that I listen to (up until now, that is), what I listen to when the kids aren't in the car, and what I listen to when the wife isn't in the car.

In those answers I found a wide range of musical styles. But what does that say about a person?

Music is my life. It moves me, inspires me, drives me, and at times, calms me. It can serve to both focus me and completely distract me, depending on the task, the day, and  the song. I listen to it when I drive, when I work, and when I mow the lawn. I sing it at the top of my lungs (as long as nobody else is home) in the shower, and in the car (even with the kids in the car). I love to listen to The White Stripes, Guns N Roses "Appetite for Destruction" and "Use Your Illusion II" at top volume, and habitually lose my voice trying to sing like Tom Keiffer from Cinderella. Just today, I played the original version of "Cover of Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook, and the cover version of it that Poison did for my oldest son. I do that a lot.

I act like a fool when I play Guitar Hero. Just ask Jenn about my butt-shaking performance of "We Got the Beat" by the Go-Gos.

I have song selections for my different moods, including songs to bring me down, when I am really, really mad. I currently use my phone to listen to music in my car, but I also own a Microsoft Zune and an iPod Mini (thanks to my wife Jenn, who found that sucker just recently at a garage sale. I use it for my audiobooks, and it interfaces with my car. Cool stuff.).

Someone I follow on Twitter just asked how long iTunes would play before repeating a song. His was 11 days. Mine is 76.4 days, covering 20,173 tracks.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of '80s hair metal/arena rock. The crunchier the guitar and the raunchier the lyrics, the happier I am. You can leave your ballad crap and acoustic guitars at home…unless you run your acoustic through a distortion pedal. Then it's a whole different story, and it's all good.

Poison is my Achilles' heel. I catch shit for it all the time, but I just don't care. I became a fan in 1988 on their "Open Up and Say…Ahh."  album. I was in 7th grade, and this album opened so many doors for me. The song "Nothin' But a Good Time" was the hot Cassingle at the time, and i that was soon followed by "Fallen Angel," "Every Rose," and "Your Mama Don't Dance," but maybe not exactly in that order. I invested in an early bootleg copy of their album "Crack a Smile" before Capitol Records realized how great it was, got smart and released it for real.

I also have bootleg copies of live shows on May 30, 1999, in Pine Knob, Mich., and Bret Michaels live at The Bijou in Toledo, OH on Oct. 12, 2003, and at the Downtown Hoedown in Detroit, Mich., on May 16, 2005. I attended every one of those shows, so it was nice to find copies of those shows available online.

The PMRC led me to purchase SO MANY albums featuring
the "Parental Advisory" sticker. Thank you Tipper Gore for
increasing album sales. And thank you to Warrant for
teaching me the "Ode to Tipper Gore."
My first concert was Poison during the "Road Dogs From Hell" tour in support for their album "Flesh and Blood." Warrant opened for them in support of their album "Cherry Pie." Ironically, later this month, I will be attending a Poison/Warrant show at the Toledo Zoo. I can't wait to relive my High School days with Jenn.

My first live performance on tambourine with my cousin, Cathy (Firsdon) Iott in Weston, OH. I later spent a lot of time sitting at the desk on the left learning the lyrics to Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" and the Beastie Boys "Licence to Ill" albums....and reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time....and some aweful short story in fourth grade called "Argyle Socks," which I couldn't for the life of me understand what argyle socks were, despite how much time my dad spent explaining it to me. But I digress.
My second concert performance with my cousin Lisa (both on harmonica) also in Weston, Ohio.
The Bee Gees rocked. Period. Or not.
My earliest musical memory (besides singing "Little Red Caboose" into my Bee Gees portable sing-along radio microphone, or my wireless microphone) involves me riding in my dad's Chevy Blazer in the early 1980s. We were listening to the radio, and I asked him "Can I say a curse word if it's part of a song?" Dad asked me what song (and what word) I meant specifically. I said "Take this Job and Shove It," which I didn't know at the time, was performed by Johnny Paycheck. Dad got a good laugh and almost wrecked the truck in front of Wood County Hospital in Bowling Green, Ohio when I said that. He told me it was alright as long as he never heard me say it outside of a song. It was only a few years later that I found out the punishment for saying such a word when he back-handed me for saying a B-word that almost rhymes with "mustard," and not many years after that when I started dropping the F-bomb in front of him with impunity.

My infatuation with rock and roll started when I was in elementary school and my neighbor let me listen to Motley Crue's "Shout at the Devil" album, some ZZ Top album, Kiss's album "Animalize," and Quiet Riot. The first two albums I ever bought (or that were bought for me) were Crue's "Theatre of Pain," and Quiet Riot's "Condition Critical." The Quiet Riot cassette was a birthday present. I remember because I wanted their album "Metal Health." Mom and dad told me they got me "Condition Critical" because one of the songs on "Metal Health" had a bad word on it. She was referring to the song "Love's a Bitch," a song I knew well, heard many times, and sang often. Up until that moment, I didn't know "bitch" was a bad word. I learned that from mom.

In sixth grade, they bought me the Beastie Boys "License to Ill" album. I remember following mom through Hearts (or was it Rinks at the time???) on North Main Street in Bowling Green, just pestering her to let me get the album. She let me. Knowing what I know now, there is no way in Hell I would have bought my kid that album at any age. He can buy it for himself and hide it from me. That's some raunchy, disrespectful music. I have it on my phone and on my streaming music through Google Music now. I listen to it often, without Jenn in the car.

Mom and Dad also bought me rap albums by Run DMC (somehow the album title "Raising Hell" was okay with them in that instance), and by The Fat Boys (with glorious song titles such as "Respect Yourself (My Nuts)," which was not a double entendre or oblique reference to anything. It was flat-out blatant and vulgar. I loved it, and I still listen to it occasionally.

Once I started listening to Poison, the entire world of music changed for me. I pushed my old music collection, consisting of the Muppet Movie Soundtrack, and albums from Alabama, Oak Ridge Boys, Statler Brothers, and Kenny Rogers off to the side, and let my world be transformed by electric guitars, long poofy hair, Aqua Net, general debauchery, and songs about sex without consequence.

The Sik Puppyz hand-made poster
(made in the cut-and-paste days of DOS
with no graphics software available) that was
created to advertise a New Year's Evebasement
concert (show info since removed for some
unknown reason). The weather allowed us to
enjoy our first concert record-breaking crowd
attendance of one. And I "performed" with a
horrendous infection from a wisdom tooth
extraction, for which I went in special to my
dentist the next day, which was New Year's
Day. This show earned me the nickname
"Chubby Cheekers."
The Silent Echo logo, designed by
my friend John
For many years, all I listened to was Poison, Def Leppard (specifically the "Hysteria" album), and Bon Jovi (the "New Jersey" album). It eventually led to learning how to play the guitar. I pretty much suck, but I would be a good rhythm guitarist for a garage (and only the garage) band that plays for fun, not for fame.

I was in two bands....Sik Puppyz (back in 1991, before the currently popular and signed version of the band existed, as far as I know), and Silent Echo, a five-piece with my brother, and lots of similar names. In fact, our first names were Andy, Andy, Greg, Greg and Lance.We headlined the High School talent show my junior year. I have the video around somewhere of us performing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me."
Silent Echo featuring from L to R: Me (Greg), Greg, Andy, Andy, and Lance, at the Bobcat Review, at the end of the junior year for me and the two Andy's. The other Greg and Lance joined us in High School the following September. We rocked the joint with a two-song set of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me."
We played a couple of outdoor parties, including one that got the attention of the police department. No arrests, no citations. Awesome.

I don't remember why Sik Puppyz broke up. Silent Echo broke up because of in-fighting, creative differences, and the fact that 3 of us were, at the time, high school seniors focused on getting the hell out of high school and moving on with our lives in college...I'm sorry...College, with a Capital C (Do the Bluto).

Some of my favorite songs to play on guitar are the two I mentioned above, as well as "Crazy Train" by Ozzy Osbourne, "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC (the first song I learned on the guitar), "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin, and a rare song by the White Stripes called "Black Jack Davey," which actually is a cover version of a song by Bob Dylan.

I was just getting into the whole rock and roll scene and beginning to understand what it was about when Motley Crue released what I still feel was their best album ever, past or present. "Dr. Feelgood" was a monster force from beginning to end, from guitar work to effects to themes, to lyrics, to artwork. It was a work of genius, only recently approached in brilliance by their album "Saints of Los Angeles," which also is an epic album.

Through the years, I have seen the following bands in concert:

Me and Bret Michaels on the steps
of his tour bus in 2006.
  • Poison (to be 14 or 15 times later this month)
  • Bret Michaels (3 or 4 times. Personally chatted with him and got autographs 3 times between Poison and solo concerts)
  • C.C. DeVille (twice, including going up on stage with him once and getting autographs both times)
  • Warrant (to be 4 times later this month. I'm hoping to meet Joey Allen. I have never seen such melodic, harmonic guitar duo as Joey Allen and Eric Turner. It's amazing to watch.)
  • Lynch Mob
  • Tora Tora
  • Faster Pussycat (in the last 10 years, looking like Nazis. I prefer the "Wake Me When it's Over" days, thank you very much)
  • Cinderella (3 times. They blow Poison out of the water live, by the way)
  • Winger
  • Enuff Z'Nuff
  • Slaughter
  • Me, my brother Lance, and C.C. DeVille onstage in 2007 at
    Alrosa Villa in Columbus, OH. (Yes, the same place Dimebag Darrelll
    and others were killed in Dec., 2004).
  • Dokken
Peter Wolf live at Rally By The River in Toledo, OH. May 27, 2004 on the tour
for his "Long Line" CD. Guitarist Johnny A (right) is amazing.
  • Aerosmith
  • Peter Wolf (twice)
  • J. Geils Band
  • BulletBoys
  • Buckcherry (I think they opened for Aerosmith on the Get a Grip tour)
  • Tim McGraw
  • And others I can't remember.

My CDs signed by various members of Poison. Power to the People (the green one) was ordered special that way. The other 3 were signed in person at various concerts. I can't find my t-shirt (seen in the photo of me, Lance and C.C.) at the current moment. JENN!!!!! Have you seen my shirt?????? I know where it WAS. I don't know where it IS.

(The above two videos were filmed by me in 2009 at sequential evening appearances in Toledo, Ohio)

Jim Croce
A deeply influential musician in my life has been Jim Croce. He died in September, 1973. I was born 11 months later. I LOVE his music. He is a great musician and storyteller, whose life was taken way too soon. I still can't believe that in terms of age, I have outlived him. He is everything I have wanted to be...English major, musician, snarky, and with a very unique world view. I can still visualize my parents' copy of his record "Life and Times," with newspaper articles about his death taped inside the gatefold cover. That had a profound effect on my respect for, interest in, and love for Jim Croce. Check out his albums, "50th Anniversary Collection," "Live: The Final Tour," "Facets," and "Home Recordings," and his DVD "Have You Heard Jim Croce Live,"

I still bathe in the 80s, refusing to grow up. But musically, I have greatly expanded my interests. My current favorites are Aerosmith's albums "Honkin' on Bobo" and Pump (a favorite from beginning to end since it came out), and anything by the White Stripes. If you plan on checking any of these bands out, also be sure to check out the song called "Carolina Drama" by a band called The Raconteurs, featuring White Stripes guitarist/vocalist Jack White. Creepy song. So amazing.

Interesting story about the White Stripes: My first encounter with them was the video you see below. I watched this live on TV. When they first came onstage, I thought to myself "Humpf. A two-piece band. This will be a joke." By the time this performance was over, I was a White Stripes fan for life. I was blown away by what I call my own personal "Jimmy Hendrix moment." I didn't know you could do that with a guitar. It still blows my mind. I just literally got chills thinking about it. Their album "Get Behind Me Satan") got me through my divorce.

In addition to ALL of the bands listed above, here is a sampling of what is in my cloud/on my phone/on my hard drive/in my head.

Amy Winehouse
Avenged Sevenfold
The B-52s
The Bangles
Bellamy Brothers
Big & Rich
Blink 182
Blue Man Group
Bob Seger
Brian Setzer Orchestra
Bruce Springsteen
C&C Music Factory
Cheap Trick
Chuck Berry
Clarence Carter
The Dead Weather
Doctor Hook
Drivin' N' Cryin'
The Eagles
Eddie Rabbit
Every Mother's Nightmare
Faith No More
Fatboy Slim
Five Finger Death Punch
Georgia Satellites
Gorky Park
Great White
Green Day
Guns N Roses
Hot Chocolate
Huey Lewis and the News
Imelda May
Iron Maiden
J. Geils Band
James Bunt
Jane's Addiction
Janis Joplin
Jim Croce
Joan Jett
John Mellencamp
Johnny Cash
Judas Priest
Justin Timberlake
Kid Rock
L.A. Guns
Lil' Jon
Limp Bizkit
Lita Ford
Little Richard
Living Colour
LL Cool J
Marilyn Manson
Neil Diamond
Neil Young
Nine Inch Nails
No Doubt
Ozzy Osbourne
Pearl Jam
Peter Wolf (Whose album "Long Line" got me through a confusing and difficult time in college)
The Proclaimers
The Raconteurs
Rage Against the Machine
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Rolling Stones
Ronnie Millsap
Roy Clark
Sacred Harp Singers
Sam Kinnison
The Smithereens
Soulja Boy Tell'em
Spin Doctors
Squirrel Nut Zippers
Steve Vai
Stevie Nicks
Sum 41
Ted Nugent
Tennessee Ernie Ford
Theory of a Dead Man
Thin Lizzy
Tom Petty
Tone Loc
The Tractors
Ugly Kid Joe
Van Halen
The White Stripes
White Lion
The Who
Yngwie Malmsteen

Bob...What about him?
That list doesn't include all of the bands. Nor does it include soundtracks, or Veggie Tales albums or Disney compilation discs that are mine, not my kids (though I DO let them listen to those).

I find that list to be as eclectic as your weird uncle Bob, and I'm okay with that. I feel it says I am well-versed, open-minded, and "well-rounded."

But based on what you see here, what bands would you recommend I check out next?

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