Tuesday, November 23, 2010

after the rock show

I grew up with parents that didn't like music.

This, of course, I realize is a total lie. Of course, my folks listened to plenty of music, owned music, and incorporated it into their lives. Yet music, for my Maw and Paw, was by no means something with which to become consumed. I'm sure both my parents like music just fine, but the importance it has to their lives always seemed, from my perspective, nowhere near on the same level as it eventually became for me. It was more like background sound, or it was "that's nice" music.

As a result, I kind of drifted lazily into the world of music, picking up on some things I heard on the radio, some things I heard from my sister (most of either category was classic rock, like Styx or Foreigner). There were plenty of songs I liked, but for many of my early years, there was nothing that really grabbed me and refused to let go.

Then I heard AC/DC. AC/DC smacked me across the face. It demanded my attention. It did things to me emotionally that I had yet to experience. As I was a shy, quiet kid, I was completely unprepared for the power, for the energy, for the liveliness. In fact, AC/DC's If You Want Blood (You've Got It) was the first album I ever bought. And when I discovered Black Sabbath, my path was sealed. It's no surprise that Angus Young and Tony Iommi are the two guitarists who influenced me the most.

My first concert was Molly Hatchet opening for Triumph. Molly Hatchet was pretty horrible. They sounded like they were playing through mud, and I began to wonder what was the big deal with live music. But Triumph came on, and because of their tight playing, anthemic songs, and the biggest light and laser show in the business, I became a live rock show convert. They did much less a performance than an experience...which is now the heights which I expect rock and roll to reach.

I'm thinking about live rock and roll because this evening, the lovely spousal unit and I went into Toledo to see The Hold Steady. This is a band I utterly love. Everything about their live show screams "you must have a good time tonight." They might look utterly unlike rock stars, their singer might rarely if ever actually play the guitar slung over his shoulder, but their music is based on riffs that nail you to the wall. Lyrically, they are very much about rock and roll...about excess, about inclusiveness, about unattainable dreams, about good times, about what happens when the good times end. And personally, I think they give hope to all of us ugly, middle-aged rock musicians.

It was also my child's first concert. Yes, I realize the kid doesn't actually get born for six more months, but I'm going to stand by this claim...because womb concerts count, right? While I have fears that the urchin eventually will rebel against my tastes and listen predominantly to either new age or electronica, I hope that The Hold Steady show implanted at least a bit of rock and roll in the its soul. If not them, who?

Although it does occur to me that there will be an in utero Analog Revolution show or two...

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