Saturday, May 05, 2007

Flashback to the best of high school

For some reason I can't recall in fourth grade we had to "interview" each other and learn things like favorite singer/band/food of some of our classmates. When I asked my favorite artist, I lied to someone and told her that my favorite band was The Police—I don't think that I could've named a song of theirs, but Michael Jackson was the end all, be all at the time and I couldn't stand him. (Honestly, my favorite song was "Human Touch" by Rick Springfield, but I didn't want to admit to that.) The point here is that I was lucky enough to see The Jackson Five (plus Jackie) Victory Tour and didn't appreciate it. And if I had truly liked The Police back then I at least would have had some musical cred. But I didn't.

Then in sixth grade (I think) Kiss 98.5 debuted in Western New York. Each night at 7:40 there was "Battle of the New Songs." They'd play a new song from two established artists and listeners voted for their fave. At 8:40 they'd replay the winner. Early in the year I voted for a Huey Lewis song ("Hip to Be Square") over Poison (either "Talk Dirty to Me" or "I Want Action"). That was at the beginning of the year, by the middle of the year I'd been introduced to music with a harder edge: hair metal—Bon Jovi (which was more hair metal and less pure rock back then) Poison, Motley Crüe, Cinderella but also bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden. At the time I genuinely liked this music, but I'll concede that I was somewhat pushed toward this genre by the friends in Mr. Kubanek's class in sixth grade at Willow Ridge Elementary School.

A friend of mine, Yasir, who was two years older, was similarly into these bands, especially Metallica and Motley Crüe and Maiden. Oddly, one day after finishing our delivery of the Buffalo News we were talking about music and he told me about how some of his classmates in eighth grade were listening to bands like The Psychedelic Furs (who had one crossover pop hit), The Smiths and The Cure. I laughed at the name "The Smiths" and was incredulous that someone would actually use that band name. I spent the rest of my time in junior high/middle school (we transitioned from 7-8 to 6-8 while I was there) listening to Guns N Roses, Metallica, Poison, WASP, Motley Crue, Tesla, Europe (I once told my sister I wanted hair like Joey Tempest, the lead singer), Bon Jovi (are you sensing a pattern?) and mocking people who listened to U2 and R.E.M. I did discover "Just Like Heaven" by The Cure and was mesmerized.

Luckily in high school things changed. The hair metal momentum died out as the deluge and flood of johnny-come-way-too-latelies snapped American rock music out of its collective stuporworship of aquanet bands. (Btw, I used aquanet.) During my first couple years of high school, I discovered cfny, an alt rock radio station from Toronto. R.E.M. would release Out of Time (in retrospect one of the band's less than steallar efforts), but which contained Losing My Religion, which wowed me. But in the coming year they would release the first album to ever change my life, Automatic for the People. Previous to this album being released I had favorite songs, like Poison's "I Won't Forget You" or fucking David Lee Roth's "Just Like Paradise," but I was an ignorant, foolish child listening to chopsticks compared to what this album did to me. Suddenly after hearing Nightswimming, I was listening to Mozart. And so without further ado ... an amazing live performance of the first song I ever fell in love with.

Continuing ... right around then U2 released Achtung Baby. Shortly after, MTV started a show called Alternative Nation, which essentially was their old 120 minutes Sunday night alternative/college music show but now Mondays - Fridays at midnight. I soon discovered Belly, Curve, Ned's Atomic Dustbin, Black 47, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Tragically Hip, Spirit of the West, The Pogues which has ultimately begat who I am today.

The post script is that I've since fallen in love with a new favorite song, "Pictures of Success" by Rilo Kiley. But I'll never stop loving Nightswimming.

As per usual when I post late at night, this one started out much more disciplined with the writing and has petered out. Perhaps I'll revise?

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