I’d like to say I’ve had an infatuation with music since I was a young boy, gliding through sun-speckled gardens listening to whatever my parents had thrown on, or flailing my arms around wildly to the chosen accompaniment of long road trips and dentist check-ups.
I’d like to say that, but I can’t.
The sad truth is I didn’t really get into music until I arrived at the grand old age of sixteen. And for some unknown reason, that’s what I’m going to talk to you about today. My own little music journey: what makes me… me.
The reason I phrase it like that is not only for dramatic effect, but also to emphasize that music is, it must be said, a huge part of me. Music travels with me everywhere I go. From company on crisp, early-morning treks to lectures, or reassuring high notes that make the walk to town far more bearable, I revere music like a god. And in an odd way, it is. It calms me down: that state of tranquility and calm that resonates around you when you tap ‘Play’ on the Spotify taskbar, or slide in a CD, and just makes me feel, well, better.
I must owe my love and devotion to music to one band. Australian hard rockers, AC/DC. When I first began to explore their repertoire, I was just blown away by their raw power, their borderline predatory lyrics, their endless guitar solos that all morph into one. They kicked ass and they didn’t care who knew, and furthermore there wasn’t one song I found myself skipping. On my sixteenth birthday, I remember vividly tearing the wrapping paper asunder and finding four of their albums on CD, cradled in my hands like newborn children. Back In Black, Stiff Upper Lip, Black Ice, and Rock or Bust were treasures to me, and I loved everything about them. Coupled with a copy of Bon Jovi’s Greatest Hits and a similar package for the Def Leppard, I found myself locked away in my room, this time poring over CD booklets like they were old grimoires, bursting with ancient life and power chords.
That was also, unfortunately, where my CD addiction came from. From that day, I perused Amazon every second I could, and any money I had saved up quickly drained from my pockets. Eventually, sadly, I stopped listening to AC/DC all that much, and though I still go back to them from time to time (after all, I will always love them), their albums gather dust on my CD tower, a bookshelf of abandoned music. American rock staple – and target of bandwagon abuse, more recently – Bon Jovi caught my attention next. I collected much of their discography, devouring it in the form of frankly worryingly long periods alone in my bedroom. From this stemmed my love for 80s hair rock and the whole look about it, too. To this day, I still nickname my (inferior) mane as ‘Bon Jovi hair’ half the time.
Then Fleetwood Mac came along, and it all changed again. They may well be a mum band by some standards, but I absolutely loved them. I remember listening to my mother’s copy of Rumours in the backseat of a car on holiday that year. Lindsey Buckingham’s superb opening track, ‘Second Hand News’, followed by hits ‘Go Your Own Way’ and ‘The Chain’ all blew me away, even over the sounds of an impatient child and roaring engine. When I got back after that week, I took a listen of every song they’d ever done – even gems from the Peter Green era, before stars Buckingham and Stevie Nicks came along – and found myself in love once more. I never really stopped loving Fleetwood Mac until recently, regrettably, when they fired longtime guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer Lindsey Buckingham for basically no other reason than Nicks throwing a fit. Still, I love them for what they were, and how they helped me during tedious college days.
The Beatles were another stepping stone for me; like most I should think, I found myself fascinated by their later stuff more, but even their earlier work had its place. Just this year I got the recent 2018 remix of the seminal White Album on CD, despite owning the 2009 remaster already. It’s quite fair to say, by now, that I am a bit of a ‘dad’ when it comes to music. My appreciation for Status Quo and ELO only serve to emphasize that point, I should imagine.
Then along came that good old-fashioned lover boy that is Queen. I’d known of them, I’d known their greatest hits for ages (Including ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which, as socially suicidal as it is to say, I care little for) but when finally I decided to take the plunge into their deepest cuts, I was simply awestruck. How could four such giants actually exist? How could they create such gospel in the form of music? From then on, I went about buying every album they had on shiny, plastic disc. As Freddie sang himself, (with the help of Brian May’s songwriting), ‘I Want It All’.
And lastly on this condensed train of never-ending musical beauty, Tom Petty. Words can’t describe the love I hold for that man, sadly no longer with us after a selfless perseverance through severe hip pain. His passing is another story, but his music is one of such life and happiness. And especially importance. You couldn’t grow up in the 80s and not listen to Petty and his rock ‘n roll. He is my hero, and nothing more should be said. To do so would only taint the legacy of a legendary man.
And so, as we come to the end of my musical journey, I must thank these heroes – and more – on the sounds and music they have given us over the years. On behalf of me, and many other teenage rock god wannabes out there, thank you.