Posted by: rusch | March 16, 2008

Music

When I was twelve my parents gave me a CD player for Christmas.  Some who read this might be inclined to scoff, but back in 1991 having a CD player was a big deal.  I’ve never asked my parents how much they spent on it, but I suspect the amount it was, as far as Christmas presents go, substantial.

Along with the CD player they gave me some CDs that were mostly classical music in the hopes that I would walk the high road, as it were, and steer clear of worldly music.

Around the time I got the CD player I saw Paula Abdul’s music video for her song Opposites Attract early one Saturday morning on a top ten countdown show back when that sort of thing mattered.

I remember taking the twenty dollars my grandmother gave me for my birthday and bought Forever Your Girl from the Target off Beaverton Hillsdale Highway in Beaverton Oregon.  At that time, the CD, or any CD, cost twenty dollars.

I liked that CD, and if after digging through my stuff still at my parent’s house were able to find it, might enjoy listening to it after all these years.  You might even hear me singing the chorus to Cold Hearted Snake in the shower.  If this is the case I can only say, “What the hell are you doing in my bathroom while I am taking a shower you big pervert?”

I am not sure when it was, but I would bet my next paycheck that the next CD I purchased was Amy Grant’s Heart in Motion.  I liked it.  My dad liked it.  And all was well with the world.

Once I hit middle school, my musical tastes shifted towards rap and hip-hop.  When I was in seventh or eighth grade I bought Arrested Development’s CD.  I liked it.  My parents didn’t, and somehow they were able to convince me to get rid of it.  I have not bought many rap CDs as they contain a lot profanity though I do like Tupac and Biggey.

In 1993 my parents packed us up and moved to Atlanta.  We settled in a moderately affluent Atlanta suburb where grunge rock and alternative music were kings.

In the spring of 1993 I bought Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream from the Best Buy on Pleasant Hill road.  My parents did not like this one, and despite many attempts at persuasion on were not able to convince me to get rid of it.

The next CD I bought was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  I was getting a ride home from Nathan Ivey after cross-country practice.  As we were driving down Web-Gin House road in Lawrenceville, music, unlike anything I had heard before, started playing over his car’s sound system.  I asked him, “What is this?” To which Nathan replied, “This is Pink Floyd.”  From that day till I graduated from high school in 1997 I was a born again classical rock believer. Praise be to Zeppelin and Floyd.  I had heard the “good news” of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, and to this day both of these bands remain my all time favorites.

Led Zeppelin IV and Metallica’s And Justice For All were purchased in the spring of 1995 at the Wal-Mart off of 78 in Snellville that is now a Gold’s Gym.  I remember it was really late at night and a cashier had to come from another part of the store because the security alarm would go off if I tried to take the CDs to the front to check out.

In the summer of ’95 I bought Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers greatest hits CD at a pawnshop off of highway ’78 in Snellville.  My friends were trying to sell some stuff to buy weed.  Meanwhile, I was looking through the CDs the shop had for sale.  I liked the song Free Falling and Mary Jane’s Last Dance, and at that time thought that for around three bucks this was not a bad deal.  I got much more then I bargained for and ended up loving that CD from beginning to end.

Around this time I purchased Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here.  I took it with me on a young men’s weeklong regional Church campout.  When I got out it to listen to it on a contraband boom box I found the CD was not in its’ case.  I then remembered having left it on top of Chad Bruning’s stereo in his basement.  I picked it up the Saturday evening I got back.

In the fall of 1995 I broke my leg during the regional cross-country meet at Abbott’s Bridge in Duluth.  My mom felt sorry for me and while we were at Sam’s Club she bought Pink Floyd’s live album Pulse for me.  I love live Floyd.  I especially like that they did all the songs from Dark Side of the Moon live in concert.

The packaging for Pulse was quite ingenious.   Not only was it beautifully packaged with artwork by Hipgnosis but a flashing red LED light simulating a heartbeat was built into the case that went strong from the time I bought Pulse until I left on my mission.  After that, I don’t know what happened to it as my brother pilfered my CD collection after I left.  If I get some extra cash and am in the right mood, I suspect that I will acquire Pulse one way or another.

I can remember actually buying one CD during my junior year of High School.  It was a big deal.  I went to the Wal-Mart in Stone Mountain, the same one where I had purchased some CD’s the year before, and bought Pink Floyd’s double disk The Wall.  I spent a whopping thirty dollars on it

During Christmas of my junior year, my boss at the apartment complex and good friend Mike Hansen gave me Lynnrd Skynnrd’s box set.  I had not listened to much Skynnrd, but really like those three CDs and just about every song on them.

It was either my birthday or for Christmas during my senior year when my brother Jon gave me Pink Floyd’s The Division bell.  Around this time I started watching the television series Highlander on the USA network.  For some reason this album resonated with certain themes from that show.  When I listen to The Division Bell the words science fiction come to mind.  Maybe I will write my daydreams from listening to that album in writing.  They would make pretty good stories.  At least I enjoyed them.

A few weeks after the state championship football game in Valdosta, where my alma mater won, I bought Led Zeppelin II and Houses of the Holy shortly at the Circuit City off of Steve Reynolds Boulevard in Duluth Georgia.

My buddy Matt McClear let me listen to both of them on the bus ride down and back from Valdosta.  That was the night that I met and developed a major crush on Ivey Jowers.  Matt, Floyd, and I hooked up with some girls on the way down and ate breakfast with them at 5:00am after the game at the iHop in Snellville by the Home Depot and the Sports Authority.  Ivey was the by far the most attractive girl I had ever fallen for.  Unfortunately I was so awkward that I never did anything about my feelings for her.  I remember hearing from my friends that she liked me, but sadly I was too intimidated to do anything about it.  To this day I am still a bit intimidated by girls that I find really attractive.

I don’t know what has become of Floyd, Matt, or Ivey.  Last time I talked to Matt, he had graduated from college and was getting married.  That was back in 2002.  Who knows what has happened since then.

My friend Josh Beard talked me into buying Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut a few weeks after I graduated.  He contended that The Final Cut was just as good, if not better then The Wall.  I don’t see The Final Cut as an album that stands by itself, but the ongoing story of Roger Waters’ angst that fueled The Wall.  Not Now John, The Final Cut, Two Suns in the Sunset, and The Day the Tigers Broke Free are my favorites from that album.  The rest is kind of hit or miss.

Josh Beard was the valedictorian of his class.  Unfortunately his life spun out of control when he went to college and he began using drugs.  Last I heard he had gotten himself together, had gotten married, and was back in school.  I remember that he pushed himself really hard in high school and was considering smoking pot to relieve the pressure he put himself under.

In July of 1997, my family took a trip to Portland Oregon to visit old friends.  While I was there, John Chambers played some early Pink Floyd.  I was impressed by their Obscurred By Clouds as a soundtrack for a French film called La Valle.  I bought this CD along with Pink Floyd’s Relics at the Best Buy where I bought the Smashing Pumpkins CD three or four years earlier.

John Chambers has been my best friend since I cannot remember.  Along with our mutual friend Andrew, he is someone I have known for more then twenty years.  He lives in Boston and is in the investment banking game.  John is going to be super rich someday.  I hope that he will send me a cool million someday so I can retire early.

While I was at Ricks College, from September to December of 1997 I did not buy any music.  My buddy Ryan helped bring me up to date and helped me break free of my perpetual musical time warp.  At one point I honestly believed that if music was made after 1980 it was not very good.  Ryan helped rethink my sole devotion to the church of classic rock with groups such as R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Kula Shaker, Supergrass ,and, most importantly Beck. After coming home from Ricks, I purchased Beck’s Odelay from the Borders Books and music off Scenic Highway 124 in Snellville with a gift certificate that Leanna White gave me for graduation.  As a rule I do not buy CDs from places like Borders.  They are really overpriced compared to places like Amazon or even the local Circuit City.  But when you have a gift certificate that makes things different.

This reminds me of something really funny that happened when I was at Ricks.  My buddy John Chambers had a roommate named Adam.  Adam really liked Matchbox 20 but did not have their CD.  John did.  And Adam listened to it ad nauseum.

One day, John and Ryan worked out a deal. They agreed to swap CDs.  John Traded Matchbox 20 for a Supergrass CD, much to Adam’s chagrin.  Adam did not like Supergrass.

Though I did buy some CDs towards the end of my mission, I boxed them up and sent them home.  It was kind of like Christmas to come home and listen to CDs I had purchased but not listened to.  Shortly after getting home, I sold most of them because I needed the money and because I had come to my senses and realized that most of them were just not that good.

After my mission, my music life was changed forever changed by a 56k dial up modem and a program called Napster.  I would stay up late into the night downloading songs by bands I liked.  I was transfixed by the download status bars indicating how fast the songs were downloading and how much time was left before they were mine.

Well, this pretty much covers all the music I bought and stole from the time I was twelve until I was twenty-one.  Since then better jobs and the Internet have given me access to more music then I ever could have imagined.  Currently my hard-drive contains seventeen gigabytes of music totaling a whopping 12 days of continuous play with no repeats.

Despite having countless songs and hundreds of albums literally at my finger tips, I would say that I enjoy music less now then I did when slapped down a twenty for Paula Abdul in 1991.  I think that I reached my zenith in terms of appreciating music when I was in high school.  Back then music told stories.  In fact there were several songs that evoked powerful images and emotions for me.  I cannot say the same now.  While I have a lot of music, I don’t get into it the way I did back then.  Having so much music has inhibited me from really enjoying it.

My current situation flies in the face of the thinking that more is always better.  In my case I had more fun when I had less.  While my understanding and knowledge might be broad, it is not at all deep.  I have had fewer moving experiences with music now then I did when I owned probably twelve CDs at the most.

In some ways, technology does not make life better.  For me, most music I like tastes like vanilla.  It would sure be nice to have pistachio or chocolate again.  Or maybe I need to start living life.


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