Monday, April 4, 2016

Light My Candles In A Daze: My Favorite Nirvana Songs

One of the features I want to include here in this blog are lists.  In my horror blog I am always making's what I do.  So I wanted to incorporate that here as well.  I have several favorite bands and of course the reason for that is their song catalog!  A one-hit wonder is just that, but a favorite band always has multiple hits, or at least a boatload of songs you enjoy, whether others do or not is their preference.  That said, with the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death upon us, I thought it an appropriate time to get this list down on paper, so to speak. 

 Many of my favorite bands have lost members.  This is bound to happen since I am freaking 47 years old.  However, most have NOT lost their lead singer. Who was also the lead guitarist. Who was also the main lyricist. I'm sure you know I mean Nirvana.  My other favorite bands, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Bad Company still have the benefit of their voice, regardless of whether the band still performs together.  And while I know Dave Grohl is a fantastic lead for Foo Fighters (lots of love for that band as well!) after coming from behind the drums, the voice of Nirvana was Kurt Cobain.

It was 22 years ago that Cobain was found dead in a greenhouse above a garage on his property in east Seattle.  Here,  I am not going to entertain conspiracy theories or wax poetic about his death, I would simply rather remember his legacy as the leader of one of the most influential bands in history.  And there's no better way to honor my admiration for his music than to simply talk about the music itself.  So here are my favorite Nirvana songs

  • Lithium
    I've already mentioned my love of this song once or twice on this blog.  While many hold Smells Like Teen Spirit in the highest regard as being Nirvana's best song (and they are probably right), I have such an affinity for this song with its simple chords and revealing lyrics. The chorus is a screaming anthem that one simply cannot play softly.  I recall reading somewhere (probably more than once) that Cobain was irritated by people always trying to evaluate the meaning of his lyrics when he in fact preferred fans to interpret them as they saw fit, as everyone takes different meaning from them and that is what he enjoyed.
    This song is a perfect example of the "famous" style that many Nirvana songs had, with soft verses and loud, grueling yet musically delicious choruses.  Lithium is also the song in which producer Butch Vig made drummer Dave Grohl use a click track to maintain tempo while recording.  (Yes folks, someone actually told Dave Grohl how to play drums. The nerve!) Nonetheless, the tactic worked and it became their third hit off the Nevermind album. 

  •  Smells Like Teen Spirit
    There is not really a lot to say about this particular song that hasn't already been said.  It is by far their most famous song and for very good reasons.  It is a freaking anthem.  It defines the era. Its four chord riff is absolutely simplistic in style but a freight train in perfection.  Some time ago, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt that said "Smells like the only Nirvana song you know", which made me laugh at the obvious truth of the statement. People who know no other songs by Nirvana know Smells Like Teen Spirit.  Its enough of a song to make you call yourself a fan, though you've never heard anything off the Bleach album and think Dave Grohl was the one and only drummer.  Maybe you're not familiar with the band's cover of the David Bowie song The Man Who Sold The World, but by god you've seen the Smells Like Teen Spirit video 407 times!  Pennyroyal Tea sounds like something the Queen of England would partake of, right?  But give you four seconds of Teen Spirit and you can shout Nirvana! on Name that Tune, right?  There was no coming back from profound fame after this song started getting airplay, and was probably the nail in the coffin of Kurt Cobain.  But the song really is THAT GOOD!
  • Molly's Lips
    Yes, I realize you've never heard this song.  Unless you are actually a fan of Nirvana.  A FAN, I should say.  Nirvana, collectively, was a big fan of The Vaselines, a Scottish alt rock band with punk leanings.  Several of their tunes were covered by Nirvana over the years, but this one is my favorite for its pure punk sounds not completely unlike The Ramones.   It's a fun song, of which really can't be said about a lot of the morose and melancholy renderings we are used to from Kurt.

  • Territorial Pissings
    "Come on people now, smile on your brother and
    everybody get together, try to love one another right now."
    And so begins Territorial Pissings, with bassist Krist Novoselic yammering the chorus of The Youngbloods' 1966 hit, Get Together, before a barrage of drums and guitars slam into the heart of this mostly punk, entirely energetic song about "finding a better way".  With Smells Like Teen Spirit, it was sung on the band's first appearance on Saturday Night Live back in early 1992. They smashed the shit out of their instruments afterward, and it's amazing they were ever asked back. But let's face it, if you were going to trash your set, this is the song to do it to. 

  • In Bloom
    One of the best, if not THE best examples of the soft verse/loud chorus hook that Nirvana became so famous for.  And it has to be said that this is surely their best video.  Actually the second video shot for this song, its set-up has the grunge trio decked out like a new band at a 60's variety show, with the clean cut group eventually digressing into dress-wearing nut-jobs that destroy the entire set, whilst screaming fans (scenes obviously cut from something along the lines of The Ed Sullivan show) have a fit in the audience.  Filmed entirely in black and white, it has a perfect 60's feel to it. Until they go off the deep end, then it's just freaking hilarious.  The song itself was the fourth hit off Nevermind and was rumored to be written about one of Kurt's friends, Dylan Carlson.  But listening to the chorus talking about 'liking to shoot his gun' just gives me pause, as anything associated with guns and Kurt Cobain is likely to do. 

  • Dumb
    In Utero, Nirvana's third studio album, boasts at least two songs more famous than this one (Heart Shaped Box and All Apologies), but this is my favorite off that album.  Written in 1990 but released in '93, Dumb seems like a very personal song for Cobain in which he seems to publicly announce that he's "happy".  It sounds like a pop song, perhaps one of the only melodies that truly sounds that way.  And the lyrics are short and sweet phrases: I'm not like them. But I can pretend. The sun is gone. But I have a light. My day is done, But I'm having fun. I think I'm dumb. Maybe just happy...  Is it foolish to pretend Kurt Cobain was ever happy? 


  • Come As You Are
    I feel like this song, the second single from Nevermind, is the quintessential Kurt Cobain.  You can really hear his voice on this one.  He's not screaming, he's just singing.  The raspy wail we are so used to is no finer than on this particular song.  It's also the one that he actually plays a guitar solo in, which we all know was far and few between.  Its melody was really radio-ready and by all accounts would appear to be the most commercially foolproof song.  And yes, it was entirely popular.  But to hear the chorus in which Kurt sings "And I swear I don't have a gun" is kind of a gut-punch at this point, don't you think?  It is hard to hear now, and damn if every time I hear it, I am forced to imagine that room over the garage.  I wish I could forget that particular thought, but it always comes back.  Regardless, this really is classic Nirvana.  That voice!!


  • Where Did You Sleep Last Night
    For the MTV Unplugged special, Nirvana didn't want to just play all their hits without benefit of amps, they wanted to do something different.  Straying from most of the songs that made them famous, they chose several covers, with this folk song staple being the final song in the show.  It was the best possible way to go out, as it is a piece of art.  The raw, melancholy performance of Cobain in this song would cement his legacy as the "tortured rock star" persona that everyone had him pegged as.  Also known as "In the Pines" and perfected by Lead Belly in the 40's, the lyrics were changed slightly here to make the "Black Girl" in the opening line  "My Girl", but the heart of the old tune remains the same.  It is a poignant recording, arguably one of Cobain's best, with the first two verses quite understated, followed by the final verse in sheer agonizing perfection. No one has ever screamed anything quite so eloquently. 

  • Rape Me
    What starts as a great riff quickly makes one pause when the lyrics start.  Contrary to what people may think, Rape Me is meant to be an anthem for rape survivors.  Cobain was a known feminist, always arguing through his lyrics for women's rights.  He wrote the song with the intent that women could say "Go ahead and rape me - you won't win,  I am stronger than that." Nonetheless, controversy surrounded the song.  MTV almost lost their fucking mind back in 1992 when Nirvana was to play Smells Like Teen Spirit at an awards show but wanted to play Rape Me.  They almost left without playing at all but agreed to sing Lithium.  However, once on stage, Kurt famously started singing Rape Me before switching to Lithium a few chords in.  Defiance was the name of the game.


  • Something In The Way
    Are there many slow Nirvana songs, you ask?  Why no, there are not.  But this song is just beautiful.  No riffs, no screaming, just pure feeling.  The low, barely audible verses combined with the allure of the harmonies (yes, harmonies) of the chorus make this an impeccable ballad. In fact, I use it as my ringtone if you can believe it.  They also performed it live for the MTV Unplugged show and it is just as raw and heartfelt. 


  • About A Girl
    I think this is the only song I have on this list from Nirvana's first album, Bleach.  It feels so much more like a pop song than a "grunge" song.  Word has it that it was written about a girlfriend of Kurt's, and you can kind of hear that in the lyrics.  Pressure to stay with his punk leanings and grunge persona, Kurt has said that he felt nervous adding this song to the Bleach lineup as it felt too "Beatlesque".  But maybe it's for that reason that it has become one of my favorite songs in the Nirvana catalog.  "I'll take advantage while...You hang me out to dry. But I can't see you every night...Free." 

  •  Sliver
    What a great song! Written in 1990, Sliver was released in 1992 to support a compilation album, Insecticide. It has relatively silly lyrics and a really pop sound but it's extremely fun and sounds like something a few guys recorded when they were hanging out in their garage.  The video feels exactly like that, in fact.  Cobain with dark hair is a pretty weird effect, and as they romp around in what looks like a bedroom, all three guys seem to be having a blast. You will too.

  • All Apologies
    Lastly (because this list is getting long with no end in sight)...All Apologies...a song that was written in 1990 but didn't show up until the In Utero album in 1993.  The coarse raspiness of Cobain's voice is on full display here, in its finest form.  The lyrics are debatable but he seems to be apologizing for just being himself.  Some of the words, like "Married...Buried...." seem to indicate the possibility of being unhappy - but he has more than once said the song was written for Courtney and Frances, so it seems to be a contradiction in and of itself.  Regardless of the lyric interpretation, it is a seriously beautiful, melodic song, arguably one of his best.  There was no video made specifically for this release, so the MTV Unplugged version is most often used in its place.  It's hard not to feel for Cobain while watching this song, or most of this concert, truth be told.  He often exhibits a haunting look in his eyes, whether it is from drug withdrawls, his famed stomach issues, domestic unhappiness or just despair brought on by depression, he really comes off as the troubled soul everyone takes him to be.  Someone who could not handle fame. Someone who just wanted to play his music and be left alone.  If only.... 

***We still miss you, Kurt.

    Wednesday, March 9, 2016

    Gonna Ramble On, Sing My Song...

    What makes a song a favorite song?  Is it because everybody else likes it and they are playing it 50 times a day on every station in America?  Maybe.  Is it because the guitar riff is so divine that you can't help but play air guitar sublimely every time you hear it, be it in your own home, in your car on the way to work or in the tampon aisle at Walmart?  Perhaps.  Or is it something more visceral? Does it remind you of the first place you heard it?  Was it playing during your first kiss?  Does it bring back memories of prom night or graduation or maybe just cruising the streets of your hometown on a Friday night?  Most likely.  I think songs we love remind us of certain times in our lives and they bring back pleasant memories and just flat-out make us smile.  A good song makes you happy. A favorite song feels like HOME.

    Some people say they couldn't possibly pick a favorite song.  I can understand this dilemma but most folks could surely name a top three.  Three songs that are irrevocably important to your existence.  Unable to go through life without hearing millions of times.  With you through thick and thin and at the highest "You're going to go deaf!" volumes.  Psyched to hear on the radio even if you have it on every medium possible including video.  Everyone can name three songs that make their heart soar, right??  And while that sounds stupid, I'm a believer.  A favorite song can make everything better on a bad day.....can make us sing loud enough in the shower to cause the neighbors to call the cops......and can help transport us to a simpler time in our lives, when everything just seemed.........easy.

    My top three songs are Don't Fear The Reaper, Lithium and Thank You.

    Blue Oyster Cult's (Don't Fear) The Reaper has been with me for quite some time.  I wish I could tell you where I heard it first or that it was some major revelation the first time I heard it.  I do know I had Agents of Fortune (BOC's fourth studio album) on vinyl and on 8-Track. (That's before even cassette tapes, for you clueless youngsters).  I also had it on cassette and of course on CD.  When you have a favorite song you buy the entire album because of course every song is going to be like lightning in a bottle.  (Not so much, in this case - but all in all not a bad album.) The fact that I love it didn't occur to me right off, but the more I listened the more I liked it.  And then came the kicker.  1978's Halloween used the song during the film. I think that's what did it.  It was an appropriate as hell kind of tune for a horror movie, and the lyrics were forboding and dark.  Let's face it, they weren't fooling around here:

     'Came the last night of sadness
    And it was clear she couldn't go on
    Then the door was open and the wind appeared
    The candles blew and then disappeared
    The curtains flew and then he appeared
    Saying don't be afraid
    Come on baby... And she had no fear
    And she ran to him...'

    While we're on the topic of depression and suicide, we might as well talk about Nirvana for a moment.  Most know I am a huge fan, but let's take into consideration the fact that I graduated high school in 1986 and their first hit was in 1991.  So I had an entire 22 years before they hit the airwaves....and yet with all the music that came before it, they are still in my top three albums (Nevermind), boast a song in my top three and have countless others that would make a top 100 complete for me.  That's a fairly good track record and says something for their musical prowess.  While Smells Like Teen Spirit was virtually a 90's revelation and became the anthem for a generation, it's not my favorite Nirvana song (while it is certainly right up there.)  Lithium is a crazy-good song that highlights their signature style of alternating between quiet verses and loud (sometimes screamy) choruses.  And it's sublime.  When I hear it, I'm absolutely forced to crank up the volume, it's impossible to listen to softly.  No other song makes me feel quite like makes me feel exceedingly happy.  Obviously it made Kurt Cobain happy as well:  "I'm so happy because today I've found my friends. They're in my head."  Yup, gotta love it.

    Thank You, by Led Zeppelin, is a beautiful song that I've loved since probably 1979 or so, well before I entered high school.  Led Zeppelin is my favorite band.  I had - no, have - every album and have many of those on CD as well.  Led Zeppelin II has a splendid track list and has to be considered one of the greatest albums in all of rock. With songs like Whole Lotta Love, Ramble On and Heartbreaker, it's easy to overlook Thank You.  But seriously, the lyrics speak for themselves and have to be some of the best ever written by the Plant/Page duo. 

    If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
    When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.
    Kind woman, I give you my all, Kind woman, nothing more.
    Little drops of rain whisper of the pain, tears of loves lost in the days gone by.
    My love is strong, with you there is no wrong,
    together we shall go until we die. My, my, my.
    An inspiration is what you are to me, inspiration, look... see.
    And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles,
    Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.
    Happiness, no more be sad, happiness....I'm glad.
    If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you.
    When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.

    They boast my favorite words put to music.  It also has to be one of the "quietest" songs Robert Plant has ever sung.  It's a song that I've played countless times, too many to count.  And because I associate movies, books and television so vividly with music,  when they played it as the very last song as True Blood went off the air for its last episode, I really thought how perfect that was that they used that song.  It felt like it was meant to be. Pointless, I know.  But music moves me in all different directions.

    I have so many other songs that I love, it would take forever to list them all.  There are crazy, silly or perfectly legit reasons for each one.  Some have great significance to me (such as Ozzy's Crazy Train, more on that later) and some I like just because... (like Bob Marley's One Love.) Some songs remind me of my youth long past, like The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald because my mom loved Gordon Lightfoot (as do I.) Some favorites bring my teenage years back into focus, like Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here and Modern English's I'll Melt With You.  Some have lyrics that speak volumes to me (like Thank You, off my favorite Led Zeppelin LP, and Death Cab For Cutie's masterpiece, I Will Follow You Into The Dark.)  Many, MANY songs remind me of drinking wine coolers or Jim Beam out in the cornfields near my hometown, like Bad Company's namesake tune, JCM's Small Town, Lynyrd Skynyrd's Gimme Three Steps, Bob Seger's Turn the Page and Phil Collin's In The Air Tonight.  In the last fifteen years or so, every time I hear the song Fisherman's Blues by The Waterboys, it takes me right back to the Outer Banks, where we spend a week each year.  Something as simple as hearing a song play on the website of one of the restaurants there and connecting with it, makes it special.  It's the little things that mean the most, after all.

    I believe music is the glue that holds our memories together and puts everything in perspective. So many if not most of my memories have songs associated with them.  For instance, I had a dear friend that my friends and I spent countless hours with who, before he went off to join the service, bought each one of us Bryan Adams' Reckless album.  Seems like a funny thing to do, in a way....but it meant so very much to each of us, and I'm fairly certain that my four fellow friends, when they hear "Summer of '69", have to get a lump in their throat.
    Our friend passed away in his early 30's of colon cancer.  Bittersweet memories indeed.

    I spoke of the song Crazy Train having special meaning to me.  I know how "crazy" (pun intended) that probably sounds.  But wait...  I have been a very big Black Sabbath and particularly Ozzy Osbourne fan since I was probably around 12.  I once played Iron Man over 50 times in a row until my mother burst into the bedroom and demanded I give up the album to her and listen to something least for a while.  I complied, and I got the album back eventually. (Side note:  my grandmother, after hearing that story, reminded my mom that she did the same exact thing with The Beach Boys Surfer Girl!) But I was hooked.  At many a school dance, my friend Tracy and I would be in charge of playing the records (this is way back kiddos, when we used to have primitive school dances in the gym after football games - I know, hard to imagine!)  Crazy Train was wildly popular and always got played, most nights more than once.  Hold on, this is actually going somewhere..... When I got married, it was a very small affair, just 11 family members in my grandparents' house.  It was just the way I wanted it, as introverted and anti-social as I had become.  We were to head to my parents house for a small dinner after and since there was no traditional reception with a band or DJ spinning tunes, my hubby and I decided that whatever song was on the radio when we started the car was to be "our song".  And as you've already guessed:  it was Crazy Train. But that's how it goes.... (see what I did there?)

    Music is the end-all to evoke a certain mood.  When I discovered headphones in probably the seventh grade, there was no better teacher to take me to headphone school than Pink Floyd. It was a love affair that continues to this day, albeit more with earbuds than headphones.  Comfortably Numb and Wish You Were Here are favorites but pound for pound, nothing can ever top The Dark Side of the Moon for sheer bliss in your ears.  This is an album that stayed on the charts continuously from 1973 to 1988, so I wasn't the only one listening.  Another Pink Floyd headphone classic (from the Wish You Were Here LP), Shine On You Crazy Diamond is, for lack of a better word, rapturous.

     Another song that always gets me is Nights in White Satin.  I feel instantly melancholy, in a good way, when I hear that song - and I truly don't know why.  It has such a dreamy feel to it, I guess that's why I love it so much. Thing of the matter is, it is not meant to be a "moody" song, it's a freaking love song.  Listen to the lyrics some time.  I realize a lot of people consider it a downer kind of song, and maybe it is meant to make people feel introspective, with its wistful yet sluggish chorus and the considerably melancholy flute solo within....let alone the alternate ending with the spoken words...I imagine that perhaps it overstays its welcome and is waaaay too long...but it will forever make me FEEL something.  And that is what I look for in a song.

    I feel like I need to stop here, lest I ramble on about favorite songs forever and ever... But I will be back with more tales of meaningful songs to me.  Songs like Springsteen's The River and Thunder Road.  Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man.  The Ramones' I Wanna Be Sedated.  Van Morrison's Into the Mystic.  Joni Mitchell's River.  Johnnie Lee Hooker's Boom Boom.  Green Day's When I Come Around. David Bowie's Space Oddity.  Even James Taylor's Carolina.  My tastes are eclectic because my life has been thoroughly enriched by music.

    What are your three favorites???

    Saturday, February 20, 2016

    Here We Are Now....

    SO.  I have no idea what made me start a blog about music, but here it is.  I generally wax poetic about the horror genre, in my long-running blog, Fascination with Fear.  But lately I've been having a lot of thoughts about music that I just wanted to get out and figured it would be fun to ramble on (see what I did there?) about my devotion to one of my other great loves. 

    [And yes, the name of the blog, the catch-prase under the name and the title of this opening post are lyrics from the angsty yet exalted Nirvana album: Nevermind.  You'll be hearing a lot about that record and the band itself here in these pages, because well.... I can't help myself.]

    I'm a Rock (with a capital R) fan, through and through - so if you are looking for 'country' you will find very little mention, if any, to the tear-in-a-bucket tunes that permeate the airwaves in a nauseatingly saccharin way.  That said, I love all styles of rock - and that means I wander into folk, soft, metal, grunge, pop, alternative, classic, punk, new-wave, roots, blues, indie, disco, shock, progressive, psychedelic, experimental, funk, glam, garage, college, southern, reggae, rockabilly...well, you get the picture.

    Music has helped me through the worst of times and been there during the best as well.  I can't think of too many scenarios in my life in which there isn't music in the background.  Even sleeping at night is so oft interrupted by a song I can't get out of my head.  I know there is a medical term for that but I just chalk it up to my life's soundtrack. 

    My other great love is soundtracks, and I'll definitely be touching on that.  Being a horror fanatic, I have amassed a downright vast collection of horror scores and soundtracks, so there's no way to get around that!

    But for now, I want to focus on my personal rock journey...

    The picture at the top of this post is a page from a scrapbook I just ran across when cleaning out my den.  It's from my high school days, and is a testament that I spent entirely too much of my parent's hard earned money attending rock concerts.  But if I'm being honest, it shaped my entire youth and I have absolutely no regrets.  I grew up in a rock-n-roll household, with my dad playing 8-tracks of Pink Floyd and ZZ Top and my mom listening to ABBA, Gordon Lightfoot, The Beach Boys and everything in between.  My mother did not appreciate my love of Black Sabbath though, and at age 13 when I had played Iron Man about 50 times in a row, she confiscated my album and told me to listen to something else for awhile.  That something else was Led Zeppelin II, and it will forever be my favorite album of all time.

    When I was 15, my friend Tracy and I were lucky enough to attend our first rock concert.  It was April of 1984 and the band's name was Judas Priest.  I don't think anyone can prepare a 15 year old to see Rob Halford in head-to-toe leather, drive a Harley Davidson out onto the stage and sing "You've Got Another Thing Comin'".   With blue-haired grannies in front of us sporting chain wallets and smoking fairly thick joints, it was an awakening.  Not that we were about to get hooked on maryjane, but when they opened the roof of the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa., to let that all that blue smoke out - it was like the northern lights right above us.  Priest rocked the house, we left in a complete and utter rock and roll trance, and my love of rock was cemented.

    The concert tickets above aren't my only experiences, just one page of them.  I saw many many bands from my 15th year through my 19th.  I saw Pittsburgh favorite Donnie Iris back in '85.  You know who opened for him?  Bon Jovi!  Back in his "Runaway" days.  As luck would have it, he got insanely popular and I saw him once again in '87 - for his wildly successful "Slippery When Wet" tour.   I traded tickets for Kiss to see Journey's last tour, and am still convinced I made the right decision.  Hearing "Lights" (one of my fave Journey songs) and Steve Perry's amazing voice trumped Gene Simmons' tongue, at least for me.  I saw a lot of great opening acts as well - some were bands that had had their previous glory some years prior - like Bachman Turner Overdrive, who opened for the Sammy Hagar incarnation of Van Halen in '86.  And the ill-fated Great White, riding high on the success of their smash cover of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", who opened for the Judas Priest Defenders of the Faith world tour and then went on to accidentally start the 2003 Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island that took the lives of 100 souls, including one of their own band members.  And lord knows I won't forget seeing Ted Nugent singing "Cat Scratch Fever" live back in 1986 when he opened for Aerosmith.

    At times, I waited months for a band I love to finally tour, and those tense moments waiting on the phone (yes! this is all before the wonders of the internet!) to scarf up tickets were the stuff of nightmares.  What if they would be sold out?!?  Luckily, I've never not got tickets to a show I wanted to see.  But like I said, this was before the world wide web, where tickets are sold out in mere seconds.  It doesn't matter, as I wouldn't spend my hard-earned cash on a $200 ticket to see anyone....not even Led Zeppelin.  (Well, that was a lie. An outright lie.) 
    I've also went to concerts on a whim.  My friend Amy and I got tickets to see Bob Seger about 90  before the show - and it takes an hour to get to Pittsburgh from home.  But we made it, and it was truly amazing.  Especially 'Turn the Page'.  Sublime. 

    Another thing I vividly recall about all my concert experiences is that YOU HAD TO BUY THE SHIRT!  Having a concert t-shirt to wear to school the next day was a given.  I recall the complete sense of pride I had, going to school the day after the Judas Priest concert, wearing a t-shirt that would now require a kid to change or go home.  I do believe I still have that shirt, albeit the sleeves are cut off and I'm sure it's seen better days...but for a shirt that is 32 years old....not bad!  My Foreigner t-shirt from the 1985 Agent Provocateur tour is going for $99.95 on eBay!  Not MY shirt, but one that looks just like it.  Vintage is where it's at, apparently.  I remember buying a really nice long-sleeved tee at the Aerosmith concert and it set me back 25 bucks!  That was pretty outrageous then!  Now you probably couldn't get a key chain for that much cash. I wish I'd have kept all my shirts...not that I would have sold them off, but just to reminisce.  My Aerosmith shirt is still kicking around here, but truth be told I think is lining a cat bed in the basement. Don't shoot me!

    If asked what concert I liked best, I would probably say the Judas Priest one because it was my first. But all the bands I saw were just fantastic.  And that isn't just the alcohol factor.   I did see a few bands without the added effects of stimulants.  That was not the case when I went to see The Firm.  For those who don't know, The Firm was a British supergroup that brought together the talents of Bad Company (Paul Rodgers on vocals) and Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page). The mere thought of musicians from two of my favorite bands being on stage together gave me goosebumps and I would have sold my soul to the devil to get those tickets.  Thankfully that wasn't necessary but on the day of the concert I did sell my soul to a bottle of grain alcohol, split between 3 friends and I.  So most of the concert is a blur, but I remember key moments and of course, I got the shirt! 

    I saw a few bands more than once, including Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp (one of which still had "Cougar" attached to him the first time!).  I saw Foreigner with Lou Gramm, Journey with Steve Perry, and Stevie Nicks without benefit of Fleetwood Mac but with benefit of their song catalog.  My Van Halen thankfully had Sammy Hagar (vastly superior to Roth), and my Lynyrd Skynyrd was made up of a combination of the original band members and Ronnie Van Zant's younger brother, Johnny, as the lead singer.  (Half the band including the lead singer Ronnie were killed in a plane crash in 1977.) It was a poignant moment when they played but did not sing "Freebird"....they set an empty chair in the center of the stage, put a guitar on it and dimmed the lights. 

    This time in my life was peppered with a lot of teenage angst and worry....about school and grades and whatever the hell I had planned for after....about boys and boyfriends and lack thereof.....about parents who loved me unconditionally but just didn't GET me.....and about music.  Music was the bow that tied all these things together and yet was the answer to any prayer I could utter.  It always made me feel better and helped put things into perspective.   When I got a D on an Algebra test, that Black Sabbath record was waiting for me when I got home from school.  If the boy I liked flirted and teased my best friend, putting Comfortably Numb on through the headphones would make it all better. And when I had no car and nowhere to go on a Saturday night, I knew Kashmir was going to transport me away.

    I don't expect anyone to read my ramblings, and I'll admit to doing this mostly for myself - part memories - part journal.  But if anyone out there feels a kinship to my scribblings, I'm all the better for it. 

    Music rocks my world.  Does it rock yours?