The first song I remember liking is an oldies song by the Human Beinz called “Nobody But Me.” We used to listen to oldies on our long car trips when I was a young child. My mom used to bob her head to the Motown soul and my dad liked the Dave Clark Five.
My mom was from Detroit, she went to Nursing School in the mid 60’s and worked in a hospital close to the headquarters of Motown Records. I remember my mother telling me one of her friends wiped Stevie Wonder’s ass and kept the rag as a souvenir. I think she is the reason I have such an affinity for soul music, especially the Motown style.
My dad seemed to like the British Invasion stuff. He preferred most of the singles over the Beatles, which I thought was cool. My father marches down his own path, and I’m sure I acquired this trait from him. I feel the same way about the Beatles; I’d rather listen to the Small Faces or Mannfred Mann.
My parents bought me a boombox around 1985, I’d say around my 8th birthday. I remember them blasting “Cum on Feel the Noize” by Quiet Riot, that being my first cassette. I bought “Songs From the Big Chair” by Tears for Fears shortly after.
I listened to it over and over and over. I didn’t much like Quiet Riot. Then I started listening to my sisters tapes, like Duran Duran and Van Halen.
The first CD I ever purchased was “Skid Row” I’d say it was in the 1989-90 range. I remember liking the song “18 and Life”.
When I was 14 I visited my sister at her University; this is where I heard REM for the first time. I loved the jangly guitars and the weird lyrics–they quickly became my favorite band and I bought all their tapes. I still love listening to the albums to this day.
I have to give my buddies Nathan and Daniel Walkner credit for teaching me what the term good music means. When I was 15 years old I listened to New Riders of the Purple Sage and Gram Parsons for the first time in Nathan’s bedroom. He had about 500 CD’s in perfect alphabetical order on display. He had probably 30 Grateful Dead discs, a bunch of Who and Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. I was floored, and I started borrowing from him and making tapes. I think the first disc I taped was “Uncle Charlie and his Dog Teddy” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. What a great record.
As I got older, I started listening to classic rock, primarily Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin. I liked Dylan’s eclectic nature and I liked Zeppelin’s heavy crunch. One thing I’m glad I did was move past these popular acts and started listening to other acts like the Who and Buffalo Springfield and Little Feat and The Kinks. I never understood why people would listen to a certain style of music, and only listen to one or two or three artists from that certain genre. Today, I probably have collected 5,000 albums from the classic rock period, by maybe 500 different artists. I like it all and I’ll listen to it if it sounds good to me, sometimes the more obscure the better.
I continued listening to classic rock in college, toning down the heavier, louder music in favor of bands like Yes(I love progressive rock) and Steely Dan (thanks to Matt Sams for cultivating my love for soft rock). Then I discovered Parliament.
Funk was just what I was looking for. Parliament blew my mind, and I subsequently started listening to the Bar-Kays, Curtis Mayfield, the JB’s, the Headhunters–artists like that. I had always love R&B music, but this had the hard edge I was looking for. I still collect funk sets and dig in crates for the most obscure recordings I can find.
In my mid 20’s I started getting into jazz. I had listened to some in the past, my friend and roommate in college liked Horace Silver and lots of the Blue Note stuff. I didn’t have much tolerance for it then, but I do now. Joe Pass was the first jazz musician I delved into; McCoy Tyner was next. Then I discovered soul-jazz and jazz-funk. That carried me into my 30’s and is still my primary listening material. I love the Hammond organ. Jack McDuff, Charles Earland, Reuben Wilson, Big John Patton, Johnny “Hammond” Smith, Jimmy McGriff–the sound of that organ can shake my hips or make me cry.
I’ve always enjoyed listening to the blues, and classic western music as well (I’ll turn off contemporary country if it’s on the radio, to me it’s just pop crap with a singer that has a southern accent) but I’ve never been in a prolonged period of emasculation by either genre. Some of my favorite artists play the blues or western, but the music doesn’t excite me like progressive rock or jazz fusion or even exotica.
I discover new artists all the time. I keep my ears open for things I like, and I’ll order them through the public library or find them online to download. I never pay for music, there’s no need. Plus, I try to stay well-rounded, listening to World music and Avant Garde and Easy Listening and Soundtrack music. I just love gathering all these albums and having them at my disposal, and I look forward to record shopping with my boys when they are old enough.