Music has always had an influence on me. From the first time I heard secular music, I was hooked. Of course, my first time to hear such music, really, was while “the church” was telling us how bad it was. Then my brother, three years older than me, began listening to rock and or roll and getting into the heavier side of the music. Through our shared wall, I would hear the muted beatings of such artists as AC/DC, Cheap Trick, The Moody Blues and assorted others.
For me, music was an escape. Sometimes because the music itself spoke to me, other times because the lyrics were so magical or the artist so intriguing. No matter the cause, my taste ran a full spectrum from old school rap (Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five) to my only interests in country music (which I truly despise) with Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and KD Lang. I said it was sometimes intriguing artists that got my attention (KD) and with the Men In Black, I viewed them more as folk/rockabilly than country, though Cash did indeed hasve some VERY country music, which I didn’t care for.
The following blog will touch on some of the music and artists I like. They will be in no particular order nor will they represent everyone I like. It is a quick scan. An overview. A mere sample.
To start things off, I will touch on my two favorite bands, so I guess there is some order after all, but after this, none in particular. I swear. Well, I won’t swear. I mean I do swear. I swear all the time. Not like a sailor or a trucker. Not that there’s anything wrong with the way truckers or sailors talk, or that all of them swear. Or any of them. Honestly, I don’t know too many truckers…or sailors, but if I did, they might like some of the music references to follow.
For me, DEPECHE MODE is kind of like the bacon of music. Not the Kevin Bacon, but the meaty kind of bacon. It just seems that whatever I am doing, I do it better if DM is playing. I liked them from the start, but when PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE came out, I was hooked like a crack whore on, well, crack. Everything about that song hit me in every fiber of my being. The beat. The synths. The lyrics. The vocals. It was pure exhilaration. I would listen to this song over and over, all while dancing my heart out through the house. I would sing at the top of my lungs even though I could not carry a tune. This was MY song.
I have been a solid fan ever since. Other DM staples include: Strange Love, Somebody (also greatly redone by Veruca Salt), Stripped, Master and Servant, Behind The Wheel, Blasphemous Rumors (which hit me like a ton of bricks), Enjoy The Silence, Personal Jesus, In Your Room, Walking In My Shoes, Precious, and Wrong (which is, IMHO, their best crafted song. It’s perfect)
Going to another end of the spectrum is my favorite rock band, RUSH. I have been a fan since the age of 8, when I was introduced to them through an older kid in the neighborhood. As pop and synthy as Depeche Mode are, RUSH is a powerhouse Canadian trio pounding out thought provoking music in the realm of Progressive Rock. Starting out as heavy hitters, the original drummer, John Rutsey, was replaced due to illness and the inability to function in the hectic tour schedule that would be needed to make the band a household name.
Though many good songs and albums precede Signals, this is the album that showed me I was not alone. With the song SUBDIVISIONS, the world opened up for me to see that there were others who were the outcasts. Others were out there who just did not fit in. “Subdivisions. In the high school halls. In the shopping malls. Be cool or be cast out.” With over 30 years, there is no way to name all the songs I love, but the ones that do stand out and speak to me are: Freewill, The Spirit Of Radio, Mission, Middletown Dreams (especially since Muncie, Indiana is known as Middletown America), Lakesisde Park, 2112, Vapor Trails, Faithless, Ghost Rider, One Little Victory, YYZ, Nobody’s Hero, Presto, War Paint, Resist….the list goes on and on.
This opening verse from ASK by THE SMITHS immediately caught my attention the first time I heard it. I am terminally shy. It was an awakening. Now this wasn’t the first Smiths song I had ever heard. I was a fan since hearing THIS CHARMING MAN and HEAVEN KNOWS I’M MISERABLE NOW. But when this song came around, it gave me a little bit of hope that there would be someone out there for such a shy dork like me.
“So, if there’s something you’d like to try
If there’s something you’d like to try
Ask me I wont say no, how could I?”
After the breakup of THE SMITHS, MOZ ventured out on a solo career that has been non stop. Despite looking like an Irish grandfather these days, MOZ still has the charm and soulful voice, as well as the lyrics to touch the soul. He is still able to sing about things that are running through my mind and through my life. Songs that reach out like How Can Anybody Know How I Feel, Now My Heart Is Full, I Am Hated For Loving, Do Your Best And Don’t Worry, I Have Forgiven Jesus, First Of The Gang To Die and I’m OK By Myself.
Not to let Morrissey have all the glory of poutiness and meaningful lyrics, TEARS FOR FEARS was right there with the rest of my faves, touching something deep within (which I believe is illegal in at least 49 of the states). My favorite song from TFF has to be Mad World.
“I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I’m dyin’
Are the best I’ve ever had”
I really felt this way. I didn’t want to kill myself, but it seemed that my dreams, so often, wanted to finish me off, or at the very least, give me some insurmountable obstacle to overcome. That obstacle may very well be my transition. Mad World was my anthem throughout high school, though I let nobody in on that secret. It would be on every mix tape I ever made, usually the first and last song. It would be played at the highest volume in my headphones. It would grab hold of me and take me in different directions, both to and away from the place I wanted to be. The Hurting, title song from the album was another hard hitter.
“You’ve been told you’re wrong
When you felt it right
And you’re left to fight
TFF just really seemed to get it. They sang about things that everyone felt, but for different reasons. It was a unifying bond that brought TFF fans together. Then the rest of the world had to jump on the bandwagon with Shout. Still a very good song, but once the masses grabbed hold of our therapeutic music, it took away some of the specialness we thought we had. (side note, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith met in a primal screaming therapy group, hence, Shout). Despite their sudden success, I still found lyrics I could cling to to this day. Pale Shelter, Watch Me Bleed, Change, I Believe, Head Over Heels, Mothers Talk, Sowing The Seeds Of Love, Badman’s Song and Famous Last Words. I was really saddened by the pompous attitude of Orzabal when he disbanded the group and kept the name as he tried to continue. Failing. He and Curt are a duo that needs each other to survive, no matter how shakey that relationship may be.
There are so many other bands that have had such a grand influence on me over the years. I’m really just going to list bands and sometimes hit a song title. If I did all of this with the justice it deserves, I would be writing a book, which may not be a bad idea…..
BAUHAUS was a band that soothed the soul while stirring up bizarre feelings and imagery deep inside. When they disbanded, I followed their separate ventures of LOVE AND ROCKETS and front man, PETER MURPHY. Both holding to a unique style and passionate lyrics. Though I chose to like Murphy over L&R, they both find regular rotation in my lineups to this day.
THE CURE hit me as hard as anything could. ROBERT SMITH had everything I wanted to hear. The voice I loved, the songs that moved and the band that had a distinct sound. One you could recognize within the first notes played. Their smash album, DISINTEGRATION, brought the masses to the music, but still remaining true to the sound and feel of THE CURE. Most of the new fans dropped off with the next album, finding it too hard to listen to such depressing music. For me, it made me feel safe, secure and actually lifted my spirits (tells you how low I was feeling most of the time).
In discovering THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, I held on to Billy Corgan’s grabbing vocals and would not let go. I liked their music and the lyrics but found a deeper appreciation after they moved through the double album Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Though I really liked this album, everything after this became heavier and more experimental in nature. His vocals belonged in the gut wrenching tonality of the new music
From here on, a list. Even though I said that before, I have to move it to this format now. Time and space do not allow for my thoughts on every group that has influenced me and their songs that mean the most.
ABBA (need I say more?)
CULTURE CLUB (you would think that they would be high on my chart)
DEAD OR ALIVE (the gorgeous Pete Burns with a voice so deep and sometimes primal)
ADAM ANT (gorgeous, wicked and talented beyond measure)
ELTON JOHN (Though I love this man and his music, I Want Love is one of the most powerful songs he has ever written. Like his Sad Songs, it just says so much. Then, with Robert Downey Jr in the video, it is a song that rules both mediums)
MADONNA (what else can be said about this icon. Just when I begin to dislike her, she pulls out the stops and hits us with more amazing music)
THE SEX PISTOLS (anger and message at it’s very best, though THE RAMONES will always get my top punk vote)
PiL (Johnny Rotten moving on to a different venue and still being as brilliant as only he can be)
DURAN DURAN (New wave rockers that made all the others take notice and try to copy)
MISSING PERSONS (Destination Unkown was my 2nd anthem. I loved the song and Dale Bozzio was simply gorgeous. The other MP song that I really enjoyed was What Are Words For)
QUEEN (Freddy Mercury set the bar higher than any other rocker on the planet. A bar that nobody has even come close to reaching, despite several attempts. Radio GaGa was one of their most ridiculed songs but I have defended this song since it hit the airwaves. Listen to the lyrics and the picture it paints. Oddly enough, singing against the over the top visuals of music video, QUEEN produced a video far superior to anything else at the time. Shaun Of The Dead also has QUEEN playing in the best use of a song in a fight ever filmed with DON’T STOP ME NOW. Radio GaGa is also what gave the Lady her 2nd name)
THE BEATLES (of course the influence is there. For me, once the drugs kicked in, but the early pop stuff is good too)
JOHN LENNON (What The Beatles should have been all along)
JULIAN LENNON (a great singer/songwriter who is cursed with sounding exactly like his father)
TIM CURRY (Although best known for Frank N Furter, Curry had some enjoyable music on his own. He is also the voice of many cartoon characters, including NIGEL THORNBERRY)
THE BANGLES (A girl band that got it right most of the time)
PRINCE (The ever changing music and lyrics just prove that he is talented beyond measure)
BANANARAMA (say what you will, I loved them!!! CRUEL SUMMER and ROBERT DENIRO’S WAITING were steady listens while putting Sun-In in my hair during the 80s summers)
THE GO-GO’S (The girls just couldn’t get along, but Belinda Carlisle’s squeaky clean voice and Jane Wiedlin’s pure awesomeness allowed them to have success afterward)
THE SPICE GIRLS (say what you will, GIRL POWER is here to stay, whether they are or not)
MEL C (The most talented of the girls, she has enjoyed tremendous success. I WONDER WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE is a staple in my listening)
GERI (the other talent within the girls)
THE BLACK EYED PEAS
THE POWER STATION (they even had TULA in 2 of their videos)
NEW ORDER (after the Joy)
JUDY GARLAND (Are there any male icons for the lesbian community?)
RUPAUL (You better work)
NEW WAVE (in general)
SIOUSXIE AND THE BANSHEES
BILLY IDOL ( I still think he got a bum rap for CYBERPUNK. He was way ahead of his time and this album was amazing! As a side treat, he recorded a very traditional Christmas album that is fabulous!)
I am sorry to have fizzled on the groups. There was no way I could do this any justice. Look for some upcoming entries where I will devote an entire blog to a band/artist. Just because a lot of what is listed is mainstream, don’t think I’m not up on the underground. Well, up for me. Music means the world to me. It is the soundtrack to my life.