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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

I Forgot About the Music

Today I actually used my mp3 player for the first time since I reformatted my hard drive, which was a number of weeks ago. I just haven't wanted to listen to anything - didn't have the urge. I go through phases like that anyway. I just seem to forget how much I love music. Then when I put on the headphones I started bouncing around like an idiot. At the moment the majority of songs on my player are Adam Lambert tunes, but I have Akon, PSY, Nelly and Run DMC on there, too.

Yeah, I'm a huge hip-hop fan, despite the sexism and rape culture inherent in the genre. I don't spend money on Chris Brown, that's for sure, or Rick Ross - the guy that was recently dropped by +Reebok  for promoting rape in his latest song, U.O.E.N.O. I actually signed the petition on that one, and Reebok listened to what people were saying. I've always liked their cross-trainers, so I'm pretty pleased about that one.

The one frustrating thing about listening to music right now is the fact that I can't sing or dance at the moment. Performance-type dancing has been out for some time because of my hip injuries, although I like to think I've still got some moves. When it comes to singing right now, however, I sound absolutely hideous. I'm still coughing from my stupid cold, and I sound like a frog in a blender when I try to sing. I can't find a single note on any existing octave, and normally I have a pretty good range. I need to get my voice back if I'm going to start recording any audio books. If I talk for even ten or fifteen minutes I start losing it completely. I guess it's a good thing I'm not the type of person to spend a lot of time on the phone!

My point with all this, though, is that I always forget how much I love music, and how good it makes me feel to listen to it. It has to be music I'm in the mood to hear, of course, but those moods vary widely. Usually hip-hop works for everything, but I go through fits and starts with other stuff. I have Zydeco (a type of Cajun) and operatic pop (think Andrea Bocelli). I have some Big Band with all the zoot suit stuff, country of the old and new varieties, and then there are the hair bands (80's metal in case you don't know the term - they all had giant hair).

My first concert ever was Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger. I was thirteen years old, and didn't know either band. Now, it's possible not many Americans will know them either, but if you've seen the movie Lethal Weapon, you'll have heard the theme song that plays when the end credits start to roll. That was Lethal Weapon performed by Honeymoon Suite, which happens to be a band from Hamilton (where I live).

The funny thing is, not being familiar with concerts at the time, when the first band stopped playing I got up and started getting ready to go. My cousin laughed at me, of course. I was totally lost in that world. Needless to say, I stayed for the remainder of the concert and had a great time. When I listen to music on my computer or mp3 player, I hate listening to live music. Concerts are different. There's a whole other feel to them. You're there in the room with the people producing the songs that you love.

Shortly after the Honeymoon Suite concert (Glass Tiger was the opening band, and they had their moment, too, even doing at least one song with Rod Stewart) I saw Neil Diamond with my parents. I forget who opened for him, or if there even was an opening number, but man I was thrilled to be there. Some teenagers wouldn't have felt that way, but there was something very powerful about his songs for me. I loved the movie The Jazz Singer. The song America gives me chills every single time I listen to it, and it did even when I was a teenager. Sadly he had a cold, so his voice wasn't exactly the greatest, but he had a kick-ass laser-light show. I remember seeing the seagull flying over the crowd. Back then that was something amazing to people. Now it's pretty standard. Another favourite of mine is, "I Am, I Said." Powerful song. Of course, "Forever in Blue Jeans" holds a special place in my heart, too.

I saw Roy Clark back then, too. It was a small show, but I swear that man can play anything with strings! I remember him joking onstage about this one Spanish-style guitar he played where it had a rounded back on it. He said it was made for guys whose bellies pooched in, unlike his which pooched out. It was a good show, and mostly I remember how funny and talented he is.

The first concert I went to by myself was Alice Cooper. I was sixteen years old, and he was my all-time favourite. I still love him and listen to him quite a bit, and some of it is pretty obscure stuff. The concert I went to was his Constrictor tour, which had the song from the one Friday the 13th movie called, "He's Back (The Man Behind the Mask)." When that video came out I thought it was so cool, and then I watch it again a few months ago and couldn't stop laughing at how bad it was. Music videos sure have changed.

The group that opened for Alice was called Sword. Some people might remember them if they were into heavy metal back then. They did one song I still remember, even though I'd never listened to them at any other time. The lyrics went, "God damn, stoned again" and that's about all I could make out, but the tune was great! Of course, my happiness at being there and listening to a band I'd never heard before might have had something to do with the fumes permeating the atmosphere. You can't go to a metal concert without inhaling pot. It's just not possible. Not that I really minded back then.

Alice Cooper, of course, was freakin' awesome. He's the epitome of the word showman. It's how he became a success. His real name is Vince Furnier, of course, and Alice Cooper was just a band/stage name, but it evolved into something else. I remember reading recently that Johnny Depp is apparently good friends with him. Alice was in Dark Shadows, performing a concert at a party, and Johnny Depp's character makes a remark about what an ugly woman he is. Yep, he's definitely an ugly woman! He's got a radio show now, and I keep meaning to tune in because it's online. Alice is a really smart guy. Funny, too. Had some alcohol problems (and maybe other stuff, but I can't remember), but he totally cleaned up. Now his addiction is golf, which isn't something I can personally wrap my head around, but to each his or her own I guess.

I went to see the Motley Crue Girls, Girls, Girls concert, and the band who opened for them was none other than Whitesnake, so it was a hell of a two-for-one. I loved Whitesnake. The one song where the guy uses a violin bow on his guitar gets me every time. I had people tell me it wasn't possible, and I saw it played folks! That was "Still of the Night" and I rarely listen to it, but every time I do I get that same feeling from that one part. It was awesome to have been able to see it performed live.

Motley Crue was a blast, too. Of course, since Tommy Lee was convicted of spousal abuse I haven't spent a penny on them. I put my money where my mouth is, or maybe it's the opposite and I take my money away from where my mouth speaks up. Whatever the case may be, the concert was a lot of fun. Tommy Lee was tanked on Jack Daniels, as usual, and this was the tour where his drum cage did the complete roll, so I honestly don't know how he managed that without throwing up, all while playing the drums like a demon & strapped to his seat like he was on an amusement park ride. I don't think that guy ever hit the same series of beats twice, though. He played the rhythm, but with no rhyme or reason. I'm talking about his drumming in general. I used to play the drums, so I pay attention to them, and he's a very strange player.

Shortly after that concert I went to see AC/DC, and it was White Lion that opened for them. I wasn't impressed with their performance at all, and since I was very close to the stage their guitarist (Vito Bratta) saw me standing there with my arms crossed. He raised his eyebrow at me, which makes me laugh to this day. Not to mention the fact that it's something I've always found rather attractive in men, although I don't know why. I loosened up after he did that, and enjoyed it a bit more.

When it came to AC/DC, I have to say that for years I thought Angus Young had to be on speed and any number of other drugs. He was absolutely insane. Sweat poured off of him, and he was faster live than he was in the studio albums. The best part of that concert was when they swung him out over the audience while he was playing. It must have been their Blow Up Your Video tour, because that's the one White Lion signed on to open for. The thing about AC/DC, though, is that a lot of their stuff sounds the same. I can play stuff like Hells Bells on the guitar, and when I've been practicing for a while I can even do the opening sequence to Thunderstruck, but their other stuff just seems repetitive to me.

They did do one song, however, that was a blast, and I've never actually heard it outside that concert. It was called, "She's got the jack." I assumed at the time that it was referring to a venereal disease, and I tell you I looked for that song on every album I had, but I couldn't find it, and I never saw it on an album in a store either. Curiosity compelled me while writing this, so I looked up the song and found it online. It was originally Bon Scott who was the singer of that song, but of course it was Brian Johnson singing it when I was at the concert. Bon Scott had been dead for some time at that point.

The thing I remember the most about AC/DC was that it was so loud I could barely breathe. The bass was doing something to my lungs. I had issues with asthma back then, though, which isn't something I've had to worry about in a number of years, so I haven't had a concert bother me like that since then.

I went to see Dwight Yoakam with my mother once, and the only song I really wanted to see performed was Suspicious Minds. I've always loved his version of it. Streets of Bakersfield was pretty good, too, but I was happily tanked on a few beers by the time he trotted onto the stage in his ultra-tight jeans, (as was my mother), so I would have had a good time if it had been the Vienna Boys' Choir. It's no accident that his big ol' hat covers most of his head and face, I'll say that much. With the hat on he's pretty cute. I always liked the leg thing he did while he performed. It wasn't really dancing, but it was something...interesting.

David Ball opened for Dwight Yoakam, and I actually liked him better than I did Dwight Yoakam. He had a couple of songs I was really happy to be able to see performed live. One was called, "Thinkin' Problem" and the other was "Circle of Friends." Other people might be more familiar with "When the Thought of You Catches Up With Me," but it wasn't one I knew at the time I saw him live.

It was a short time after that that I saw Slaughter at a local bar in Edmonton. I loved their song "Mad About You" and they had done a song and video for the second Bill & Ted movie which was pretty good. I had at least one of their albums, though, so I knew a few of their songs.

There are a couple of bands I really regret not seeing live, although pretty much all the bands I liked back then are still touring, so I might still get the chance. One is Judas Priest. When I was a teenager you were either into Priest, or you were into Maiden. I like them both, and "Wasted Years" is one of my favourite songs to play on the guitar, but Priest was the big one for me. I've played "Breaking the Law" on the guitar so many times, including the solo - awesome song! The second band I'd love to see live is Def Leppard. I loved their songs - total hair band utopia. I can't tell you how many times I listened to Hysteria when it came out...on tape.

I show my age, I know, but when I started collecting metal bands, I was collecting them on LP. Yes, vinyl. As a kid we had 8-tracks, and I could never figure the damn things out. The funny thing is, I'm kind of technically gifted, and have no problem programming a VCR (I'm no 12 o'clock flasher), but switching programs on an 8-track tape eluded me. I used to listen to Supertramp on 8-track. There was the one song that they used for W5's opening song, and I just loved it. I'd struggle with the stupid tape, over and over, just to be able to listen to that song again. The album was called Breakfast in America, I think.

I didn't go to any concerts for a long time, but a few years back I went to see Diamond Rio. I love a lot of their songs, and one had some special meaning to me, particularly at the time, so when they played at Casino Rama in Orillia (Ontario), I had to go. I think it was a little over a year ago that I went to another concert at a casino. This time it was Chris Cagle, another country singer. One of his songs had special meaning to me, as well, and I had a really good time there. Again, beer was a contributing factor, but I would have enjoyed it anyway. He's a good performer.

I've never been to a hip-hop performance of any kind, and to be honest I don't think I ever will. I love the music and the songs themselves, but it's an atmosphere I don't think I would enjoy. Maybe I'm wrong, and I suppose if the opportunity to see Usher or Eminem ever came up I might actually go, and that might prove me wrong, but it's not something I specifically look into doing. I'm more likely to go to a basketball game.

I'd definitely go to see Adam Lambert, I tell ya. He's got one of the most amazing voices in the world. The fact that he's got a ton of courage brings another level to it. Two of my favourite songs are "For Your Entertainment" and "If I Had You." I also like "Whatya Want From Me" because it kind of epitomizes the way I felt for a few years and what it's like to come back to life emotionally after a disastrous relationship. These particular lyrics really make that song:

Yeah, it's plain to see
That baby you're beautiful
And there's nothing wrong with you
It's me, I'm a freak
But thanks for lovin' me
Cause you're doing it perfectly

Anyway, the point to all this musical reminiscing is simply that it amazes me how I can forget how much music brings me to life. There are four things that make me feel this way; music, waves, lightning and love. When I say 'this way' I mean they make me feel alive, inside and out. Something I've never done, and I hope to do one day before I die, is have all four happening to me at once. Just imagine what it would be like to be in the arms of someone you love, who loves you, on a beach in the middle of the night, waves crashing, lightning ricocheting through the sky, and dancing to a song you just can't help moving to.

Okay, maybe it's a bit of a risk that you'd get hit by the lightning, but I know I'd chance it. There are just some things in this world that are worth the risk. Of course, sometimes just curling up in front of your home theater system to watch a movie with the love of your life can be a huge risk, so you might as well get the flash while you can!