Friday, October 14, 2005

Cool it now . . . you're gonna lose control

The K-12 Project - Groups/Singers

I started listening to music when I was very young. My dad had many records and a reel-to-reel player (I was never allowed to touch the reel-to-reel), and I always liked listening to the music with him. He was partial to the singer/songwriter milieu, such as Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Carole King, etc. But he had hundreds of albums, and I had my favorites. Then, by early elementary school, I was into my own music, and it never stopped from there.

Disclaimer: There are some revealing and somewhat embarrassing entries here.

Kindergarten - My dad's The Beach Boys albums drew me in. My favorite songs included "Surfin' Safari," and "Surfin' USA." I would go down into our basement in Bellingham, Washington, and crank up the summer tunes.

First Grade - My love for disco began. I bought my first albums this year, and most of them were from The Bee Gees. I loved all of their songs, but my favorite was "Tragedy." I liked other disco as well, namely Donna Summer, but The Bee Gees were genius. My family went to visit my grandparents at their new winter home in the Cayman Islands, and my cousin (who was my age) and I went out disco dancing with our parents. At 6 years old, we were the hit of the island. I must admit that I still love the music of The Bee Gees. I must have been destined to be a dj.

Second Grade - This was the year of the Grease soundtrack for me. Every day after school (and after the "Woody Woodpecker Show") I would blast the album, singing along. I knew every word to all the songs, innocently singing along to "Greased Lightning," not knowing what exactly a "pussy wagon" was or why the "chicks will cream."

Third Grade - "Hi. My name is John, and I was a Neil Diamond fan." "Hi, John." My love of Neil Diamond was very narrow, however. I was never in to all the "Sweet Caroline" stuff. Instead, I listened nonstop to The Jazz Singer soundtrack, singing my lungs out to "Love on the Rocks" and "America." On the boats and on the trains . . . TODAY!

Fourth Grade - This may be my most embarrassing year for music. My brother and I joined one of those record clubs, so we got the initial 12 albums. My choice? Air Supply. Dammit. I can't go on. But by the end of this year, a music revolution had taken place, which brought me to

Fifth Grade - Michael Jackson. Thriller was released. My life changed. Every song, every video -- all great. I bought MJ posters for my room, and Thriller was really all I listened to. This was a transitional year for my family -- my dad was between jobs, and so for half of the year, we lived with my grandparents in Illinois before we moved to Indiana. My grandma also liked Michael's music, so I could play it all the time. My favorite songs were "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and "P.Y.T." I still think that Thriller is one of the great pop albums of all time.

Sixth Grade - I met my first good friend in Marion, Indiana because of music. One day at the beginning of the year, this kid named Jason was in an argument with another kid over Michael Jackson. The other kid said MJ sucked, and Jason said, "You'd better not say anything bad about Michael Jackson." I was sitting two rows away, and I chimed in: "Yeah, Michael Jackson is awesome." And so Jason and I became immediate friends. All this leads to my next venture into pop music. Jason introduced me to New Edition, the "next Jackson Five." They soon became my favorite, with hits like "Mr. Telephone Man" and "Cool it Now." I even got to see them in concert!

Seventh Grade - Now I still liked the pop music quite a bit, but my tastes began to shift a bit into some less conventional pop. I started listening to Genesis quite a bit, and I know for some of you readers who are young, Genesis seems like it is only cheesey lovey lite rock, but that was not always the case. I started liking them for more mainstream songs like "Throwing it All Away," but once I bought a few albums, I realized that they were artsy and a bit weird. My favorite songs were strange art-rock numbers like "Dodo/Lurker" and "Me and Sarah Jane" (which is still my favorite Genesis song). And the video for "Land of Confusion" was the best, and not just because it made fun of Ronald Reagan as a doddering old fool. And I got to see a great Genesis concert.

Eighth Grade - This year I heard one of the coolest songs I had ever heard on the radio: "Need You Tonight" by INXS, and I bought their album Kick. This was in my tape player for a month straight, and I blew out my dad's speakers playing "Mystify" too loudly. In middle school, we all went to "Elks Dances," which were 7th-9th grade dances held at the Elks Club. They were very fun, and I was always quite the dancer. One night, the dj started playing "Need You Tonight," and my friend Angela and I decided to dance. We started doing spins and dips, and soon the whole dance floor had cleared, and everyone was watching us. The next year, I was at a high school basketball game, and some high school kid saw me and called me Fred Astaire.

Ninth Grade - Many people who listen to "alternative" or "new wave" music went through a Beatles phase, and I was no exception. My freshman year was defined by my love for the Beatles. I believe that the Beatles were my transition out of Top 40 pop and into something more. My best friend Jennifer and I could not get enough. We loved all Beatles songs, but I was a "late-Beatles" fan: Abbey Road, The Beatles (the "White Album"), Sgt. Pepper, and Let it Be. I loved all of their weird experimental songs like "I am the Walrus" and "Strawberry Fields." I still break out the Beatles quite often. Why wouldn't I?

Tenth Grade - I have already chronicled my ascension to New Order fandom, but I would say that my favorite band this year was Depeche Mode (which I will be writing about in an upcoming band post). Depeche Mode provided a perfect blend of cheesey synth pop and morose goth emotion. But again, more on that later.

Eleventh Grade - The Smiths. That's all I have to say about that.

Twelfth Grade - My consistent favorite through my high school and college years was R.E.M., and in my senior year, they really floated to the top. Again, I will be writing in-depth about my feelings about R.E.M., but here I will just say that their beautiful, poetic, and political songs really connected with me. This was around the time of their biggest hit, Out of Time and "Losing My Religion," and so I always found myself in the detestable position of "Well, I liked them before they were big." I hate that. But I love them.

. . . and it has only evolved from there. That was 14 years ago after all.


At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Graham posited...

I find it amazing that you can remember things like. I just never pay enough attention to my life to commit such things to memory. That, and I didn't really become musically conscious until I was about 13.

It was then that I went to see my first concert--R.E.M. on their Monster tour playing in Las Vegas where my family lived at the time. My sister bought me tickets for my birthday, and the show was really awesome.

I saw them again at the Saints field, where you were too, I recall. That was the year between my sophomore and junior years in high school. I wan to say that I've seen them again since then, but I can't recall.

Since my sophomore year of high school I've been pretty much obsessed with the Mountain Goats and they've been my favorite band, bar none, since then. I'm also partial to Franz Ferdinand and many others, but they're just too trendy to like too well. They're bigger than the fucking Beatles, really. And I never liked the Beatles, no matter how hard I tried.

At 3:34 PM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

All I remember is that the first cd I ever owned was the first Backstreet Boys cd. Those were dark years. 3rd-5th grade... I'm not to proud of those years, musically. Then, 6th grade, it was all about Blink 182 and Eiffel 65. From there, it just got stranger.

At 11:40 PM, Blogger pkizzle posited...

How can you not be proud of owning the first BSB cd? Songs like, "Backstreets Back" and "All I have to Give" are timeless. Dark ages, or pinnacle of music excellence?

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

Quit playing games with my heart... my heart... I should have known from the start...

Definately the dark ages.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger mayah posited...

number one, graham, you don't like the beatles? whhaaa?

my first album was sophie b. hawkins' Whaler, second was alanis morrisette, third was the spice girls. i've been through some bouts of TERRIBLE music, but i'm pleased with where i'm at now, and not ashamed to love the cheesy shit, i.e. Wham!

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Tom posited...

the first music i ever liked was grunge. i think that makes me a badass. its all thanks to my sister, though. My first album was nirvana's unplugged in new york, when my sister gave it to me.

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

That is a pretty impressive place to start out. Unplugged is a good cd.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger pkizzle posited...

My first CD? Coolio's "Gangstas Paradise" Thats right. My rap appreciation started early. But I'm actually more proud of the album which immediately followed it, "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation- Music from the motion picture"

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Pammy posited...

john, you make my heart hurt.
my first cd... james taylor's greatest hits.
ooooh.... mexico....

At 7:40 PM, Blogger matt posited...

my first cd?

the best of sinatra

At 8:02 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

All of you have such delightful first cds.

And all of your posts make me feel really old. How can someone (Paul) have bought their first cd after I was OUT of college? Thanks to Pammy and Matt for choosing their own old person music.

At 11:07 PM, Blogger Josh posited...

Dear Matt:

Because of your new profile picture, I will now be punching you in the face at the next available opportunity. Seriously.

Your brother in Christ, Josh.

At 11:39 PM, Blogger aa posited...

wow. josh i have to say that is quite interesting.

i have to say i was on the same wavelength as john when i was young, however my first cd was hanson-middle of nowhere. whew, for some reason i was drawn to young adolescent boys with high pitched voices. i think i still have that cd somewhere. actually i do. i remember listening to it a month ago. wow.

At 12:26 AM, Blogger Tom posited...

i think you still have that strange obsession somewhere... actually i dont know you, but it was there, so i took it.

At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous posited...

Mr. Wanninger--you feel old? This should help: My first cd was a vinyl album, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and contained the songs "And When I Die", "You Make Me So Very Happy" and "Variations on a Theme by Erik Satie". Those are the only ones I remember. Based on that, you can probably guess why this post is anonymous...

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Johnny V posited...

Oh, good one Tom.

At 6:37 PM, Blogger aa posited...

thanks guys. thanks a lot. :)


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