There are many albums that have either influenced my life or made it more enjoyable for one reason or another. Music has been, and in all likelihood will continue to be very important to me.
When we were young my parents would put my brother and me to sleep with music. Some of my favorites that I remember were various pieces by Chopin and Beethoven, “On the Threshold of a Dream” by The Moody Blues (that robot voice in “In The Beginning” used to scare the crap out of me. Yes. I was a wuss.), “Stardust” by Willie Nelson, “Blue Skies” performed by Kiri Te Kanawa, a few different Ray Charles albums, and some assorted Steve Miller Band music. When we weren’t headed to bed we listened, primarily, to oldies like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Birds, Simon and Garfunkel, The Supremes, Janis Joplin, Crosby/Stills/Nash(/& Young), and others. When I was growing up in the late 1980’s and early 1990s I was pretty much totally isolated from modern music.
I didn’t start listening to modern music until about 1992 when my friends got me to listen to Salt ‘N Peppa, and then onto more modern rock like The Offspring, Green Day, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and others. I noticed that bands like Pearl Jam were politically active and tried to engage their fans to become involved in issues that should matter to them, but it wasn’t the same type of movement like in the 1960’s and 1970’s (the music I had been used to).
When I started middle school in 1994 most of my elementary school friends went to another school and I felt alone for a long time. It was a good three-quarters of the year before I made any friends, and I became very depressed because I wasn’t fitting in. I retreated into music looking for something to do, or something to be a part of. As luck would have it, I ran across music by Social Distortion and Bad Religion. I can say, without any hesitation, that the music of these two bands (but Social Distortion in particular) saved my life. I was seriously considering committing suicide as an 11 year old, for reasons that (looking back on my life with 20/20 vision) were ridiculous. Social Distortion’s stories of drug addicted friends, being doomed to a life of prison sentences and poor education, gang violence, working dead end jobs, and persecution for many different reasons showed me that my problems were absolutely nothing compared to the plight of so many people in the world. It showed me that someone with this kind of background was determined to get out of it and lead a productive life, and that I shouldn’t just give up and leave this world silently. I was lucky enough to be born into a great family that’s very supportive, and I have absolutely no excuse to squander this life that millions of people would kill to have an opportunity to live. The music of Bad Religion is crafted so beautifully. It gets a wonderful message across, and does so with an amazing sound that continues to wow me.
During those tough times for me I also turned to the music of the band Live. I’m definitely not a religious person, but I feel some strange comfort when listening to their music. It definitely speaks to me for reasons that are still unknown to me.
Since then I’ve listened to and been affected by music created by many bands. It’d take forever to talk about all of them, but other albums and bands that haven’t already been listed that part of me owes its existence to include (but aren’t limited to)…
Alice in Chains
Better Than Ezra
Bush – 16 Stone
Candlebox (in particular “Far Behind”)
Counting Crows, The
Face To Face
Faith No More
Letters to Cleo
Mike Ness - Cheating at Solitaire
Nine Inch Nails
Smashing Pumpkins, The
Stone Temple Pilots
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Who, The (“Tommy” in particular)
Yeah… I’ve probably written more than my allotted $0.02 worth…