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Music: Mine and others

Slave to the Rhythm
My Music

I'm one of those kids who used to drive their parents nuts by listening to music every waking hour of the day. I used to be able to do homework even though I had punk music on. Can't do that anymore. I still listen to a lot of music, though.

I think I must have gotten my love of music from my mother. She is not that far removed in age from me so I got a mom who was in her 20s as I was growing up. She used to listen to Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles and sing along in the car while she was driving us along. I learned how to harmonize from listening to her. She used to listen to music a lot more when she was younger. My parents, despite their youth weren't into much of the "cool" stuff from the sixties. They would listen to the Lamplighters, Kingstone Trio and Glenn Yarbrough. Oddly enough, the only Beatles album they had was "Sergeant Pepper's...", arguably the weirdest by straight standards. I remember singing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" while on the swings in kindergarten.

Growing up in Los Angeles, my first radio station was 93 KHJ. It was actually pretty cool. I got my first taste of funk on that station. Certainly programming was less racially stratified then on commercial radio than it is now. I listened to it on a little GE red, white and blue transistor radio. The batteries were always running out because I insisted on going to sleep with it buzzing away on my pillow. I later got a yellow Panasonic Toot-a-loop which my brothers "borrowed" and destroyed. I had an odd assortment of musical tastes. I grew up listening to my mom's and aunt's old 45s. I heard things as varied as the Drinkard Singers, Frankie Avalon, Lee Dorsey, The Everly Brothers and Johnny Otis. The first 45 I ever got, courtesy of my dad, was Tony Orlando and Dawn - "Tie a Yellow Ribbon". The first LP I remember buying with my own money was Nilsson's The Point .

By junior high school I had graduated to KIIS. I was very into disco and managed to get into Dance Your Ass Off, Inc. while visiting my dad in San Francisco. I especially like Donna Summer because her voice was so incredible. I didn't realize that I was getting a little sick of KISS's programming until the DJ slipped one day and played the new Yoko Ono single "Walking on Thin Ice" in 1981. I thought it was fantastic! I called up to request the song again and again but they never played it again, so I was forced to actually buy it. I still didn't buy many records back then.

A lot of kids at my high school were listening to KROQ (the station that pioneered the "modern rock" format), but some of those kids were really snotty so I didn't want to listen to the same station as they did. I finally decided to give KROQ the standard trial that I gave all new radio stations: I would listen to it for 3 days and not change the dial, no matter what. I was actually hooked within a couple hours of listening. This was before KROQ had a strict format and they basically let the deejays play what they wanted. It was great! That's how I got into the whole punk/post-punk thing going on in L.A. at that time.It was wild and eclectic programming and it's too bad that KROQ became the architect of its own downfall.

As KROQ became wimpier, I looked for alternatives, but nothing fit me that well. I listened to KXLU while I was at UCLA because UCLA's own station (for which I deejayed 2 summers) was cable-only. Go figure. I also listened to KCRW (Morning Becomes Eclectic and Harry Shearer's Le Show ) on occasion but somehow managed to overlook KPFK. My tastes had so far gone from the funk and pop of the early 70s to disco to punk/post-punk. I was now entering a new phase. I was a massive X groupie ( I dug the Blasters and Los Lobos as well) and read about every interview with them that I could get my hands on. I heard them mentioning these hick names like Merle Haggard and Woody Guthrie, Lightnin' Hopkins and Hank Williams. I was flabbergasted that my heroes actually liked country music. All the country music I heard on the radio sucked.

I went to see a Three Stooges feature at the NuArt called Rockin' Through the Rockies. I was dumbfounded to see a bunch of cowboys in full regalia playing hot jazz and swing music! What the hell was going on here?! I asked one of the guys at Rhino Records if he knew what that stuff was and he steered me towards Bob Wills. Besides a few Hank Williams songs, Bob Wills is what opened my mind about country. Simultanaeous to this I was getting into the Pogues and that was leading me off in ethnic and roots music directions. I don't know why I bought it, but Lost in the Stars: the Music of Kurt Weill got me heavily into Weill stuff. My musical tastes were expanding like the Big Bang.

I started getting out of the "alternative" rock scene around 1987. All the bands seemed to be doing much the same thing. There were a couple major categories that the music fell into: REM-soundalikes and Replacements-soundalikes. Ho hum. I got into ancient music as a result of inheriting some 78 rpm records. My parents had passed on their old KLH stereo to me and it had a 78 speed. So I got into all sorts of music that would further alienate me from my peers.


Music Reviews

Last modified on 11/23/99

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