Thursday, May 2, 2013

A young man's Journey with music.

I spent a month having to do research on a topic in a rushed sort of way. So today I want to stretch my self mentally and talk about albums and music I like.
This is ten albums I find myself listening to over and over again. This is not my favorite songs, or musicians. These are albums that I've listen to a hundred times and still can listen to today.
Let's start this journey with Pink Floyd's  The Wall. Just a fair warning, the first few albums are albums you may have heard of or have been praised by every generation since they came out. The reason for this is that I did not like what was being played on the radio when I was in high school. I did love classic rock because I could dig through my dad's old albums and discover songs I couldn't hear on the radio. I would stay up all night and read wiki links on these bands and memorize facts about these long dead bands. The Wall was one of the first albums I bought, but I thought it was boring save for Another Brick, Part 2. I ignored it for the longest time in favor for another CD I bought called Guns and Rose's Live Era. Then I discovered Dark Side of The Moon.
It introduced me to the idea of concept album, and how you could have a group of songs around a central theme. I thought it was amazing, so I did more research into the band. The Wall is a story, and is a well written story. It is the reason why I still buy the album, and not just the song to this today. The way the music would segway into the next song or how each song was just a peice of the story showed me what music could do. And I used to put on a good set of headphones and write. Sometimes I drew. It was the perfect back ground music to relax to. It is a long way from Dark Side or any of the albums after. In my opinion, it was the height of Roger Water's song writing abilities.
So I began to explore the other artists on the radio. I took a class senior year called "History of Rock" which spent a chapter on the Beatles. And I discovered  Disraeli Gears by Cream. This and the White Album were on my car sterio during my trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. This makes my list, though, because of my first and only full year of college, when I would hand girls my CD case to look through. To this day, I still don't know why they always got excited over this album. I think it has something to do with Eric Clapton.
It's great. You should listen to it if you haven't. It's heavy before heavy was a thing, and it's trippy as all hell. And it's last track Mother's Lament was plain fun. Story goes that critics didn't think much of it when it came out, leading to the demise of the group. But, it inspired generations of rock.
Including Black Sabbath! There's a handful of metal I can actually stand. Most of it is too fast and the singers screaming about Satan and darkness makes me laugh more than anything. I'm generalizing, yes. As I said, there is metal I can listen to and enjoy. Paranoid by Black Sabbath is an album I've listened to so many times and can still rock out to.
These albums make my list because they had  memories tied to them. Disraeli Gears has the memories of traveling to rocks mecca for a summer. Paranoid exists in a time after high school when I decided to try and get away from home for the first time. Some of the memories may not have happened when the songs were playing, but the albums served as soundtracks to my life. Many people out there may relate with other songs and albums, or maybe books or movies highlight the experiences in your life.
Paranoid helps me with a point. These are the soundtracks to a confused kid trying to grow up in a world where the motivations of its characters are not always clear. The person who listens to theseParanoid plays on fear, and it spoke to  him years ago after the world tried to destroy him. He thought he was insane. He saw what a person could do when they where frightened and for years he lived with that guilt. Paranoid has always been on since then to help him forget for just a little while what dangers lurked outside of his head.
now is not the same kid who felt betrayed by the girl he was always hanging out with. He's not the same boy who tried to sort out his own emotions while struggling to understand the thoughts of the opposite sex.
So I went to college, like everyone told me I should. I wnet because successful people went to college. You meet people like yourself in college. You grow, you expand, you become someone new.
I listened to Layla to deal with the thoughts that still bothered me. I attempted to use Disraeli Gears as a way to get laid (doesn't work). Music doesn't hide you from yourself for long, and I didn't want to be at college. I thought the system was a god awful mess. High school sucked. People played the system and got ahead with learning a damn thing. I tried hard to be the best at everything and failed. I was sick of school.
The energy and mayhem of punk spoke to me in freshmen year of college. And the blues comforted my emotions. I hated things and I wanted to break, hurt and smash. Sometimes I wanted to hide from everyone and the world. The two styles met in Consolers of the Lonely by the Raconteurs. That and Let it Bleed by the Rolling Stones became the soundtrack as my friends and I began to tear the school apart. We tore up signs, lit them on fire and shot fireballs from the windows. Consolers played in all of our rooms as we became the three bringers of chaos.
Wild children must grow up though. As the world around me matured, I was still caught in the thoughts of a girl who hurt me so long ago. Music no longer offered the same support, so while I listened to Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones I used more drugs. We drank tea made from poppies with effects like Vicodin and later listened to Hot Rats. I consoled distraught friends while I was on shrooms and Herbie Hancock played. The young man flipped his truck on an icy road in Vermont, slid on it's cab and walked home 7 miles in the middle of February. Luckily opium calms you down.
I still maintain Sticky Fingers is the best album by the Stones. The sex, drugs and rock were out in full on that album, but the slower blues songs sounded remorseful. They had begun to watch their friends and acquaintances die from the lifestyle. "Sister Morphine" is the greatest song on pain ever written. I drove everyone crazy when I came back from my first farm job. But I couldn't walk due to an infected cyst on my lower back, and I thought I would have to give up my dreams after dropping out of college then finding and losing my dream job and girl. After that, I have many songs from them that bring back memories (The stories of "Angie: is good love story of lost love, and "Ventilator Blues" tells the story of my relapse.) No Rolling Stone album since then has had the same impact.
When I dropped out of school and lived in tent while working on an organic farm, No Other Love by Chuck Prophet is what I listened to. I saw how the science they crammed down my throat for years was present in nature, and how math made a beautiful puzzle. I listened to this album while I shoveled stalls and told pigs stories like Heracles and The Three Little Pigs. I raced storms on bicycles, fought cows and punched my boss in the face. "Storm Across the Sea" reminded me of a girl I met and it's possible "What Makes the Monkey Dance" is nonsense, but the beat helps set "the mood" without being obvious like Barry White.
The period of anger and violence soon ended. It was turned inward as depression. What I wrote I hated. It was from the hallucigenic stuff I wrote before. It was depressed. I listened to If We Can't Trust the Doctors by Blanche. The dark country lyrics about pills, fear, and trust issues were perfect for the time. "Jack on Fire" is a haunting cover about a man who wants sex. They own it. They also make an original version "Running With The Devil". Meanwhile, the young man was trapped at his parents house and trying to clean up while trying to beat the voices that bothered him. It's easy. All you have to do is stop hanging out with your friends.
Someone thought to get him tested for adult ADHD. The therapy helped him more than anything. I learned to face a problem head on and not just to fight it. I listened to Passages by Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass. It kept me calm and focused towards new goals. It played while I sat on the docks of Auckland. I hitched-hiked in New Zealand, tried to explain the appeal of the Grateful Dead to a french girl, and explained the math I learned in my free time to a dutch girl. I came back to the U.S. and left the state I grew up in. And while I worked on yet another farm, I introduce others to the calming sounds of Passages.
The sounds of The Black Album was the soundtrack to a kid on top of the world. The confused, hurt, angry kid was fading in the distance, replaced by someone with confidence. Success was something he could see. The crazy kid still exists, but comes out less and less. I saw Jay-Z in concert recently, I just had to sneak up to the stage Metal Gear style to see him.
And now I listen to the Dead Kennedy's Frankenchrist to prove that growing up is hard. Sometimes you try to shake off the past, but somethings you want to hold on to. Like trying to change a system that you find unfair, even if the system threatens everyday to swallow you up with it's bills and rent and health care. To hell with the world!  I still crave irrelevance, and adventure. I want to work towards dreams as a means of making a success that I can be happy with. I talk my way into Research, write blogs and learn to program as homage to that young man who has changed with his sense of music through the years. So here is to the ones who make a little chaos in the world. Let's hope they grow up and survive.

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