One of my best friends Michael Philip McRaphone asked for us to write 10 songs that mean a lot to you, and why. It took me over an hour, but here is my response. I did them in chronological order, and left out some of my fav bands today, but that’s not what this was about. Read below, if you have time.
10 Songs That Mean A Lot To Me, and Why.
Bryan Adams – Summer of ‘69
My Dad traveled on business and brought this cassette back for my sister. It quickly became part of my tennis racquet guitar show, complete with lip syncing routine. I fell in love with “Reckless” at the age of five or six. I knew I wanted to rock at an early age needless to say.
Huey Lewis & The News – Anything off of “Sports.”
No shit. My Parents took us to see this tour, FRONT ROW CENTER at The Exhibition Stadium. I still listen to Huey. I took my Mom to see him at Rama a few months back, and it was amazing. I must have 10 copies of this album on vinyl. I always grab one whenever I see one at a shop or sale. Just a perfect 80’s album.
Def Leppard – Pour Some Sugar On Me
My best friend Peter who lived up the street from me in 87-88 had a brother Lazlo who listened to a shitload of hair metal. I remember bringing home a copy of Hysteria and my Mom flipped ‘cuz there was a tune on it called “Armageddon It.” That only made me love it more. “Pour Some Sugar…” was some serious shit when you’re hearing it for the first time, especially at 7. Pete and I used to put on shows for my parents all the time, lip syncing and flailing around like mental patients. God my folks were cool.
David Lee Roth – Just Like Paradise
Same awkward age, but my Mom would buy us a gift for passing into another grade each summer. One year I fucking DESTROYED “Skyscraper” by Diamond Dave for an entire summer, like every day on repeat all day. I remember the cheesiest shit ever like a song called “Hot Dog and A Shake” or “Knucklebones.” I still get goose bumps when that intro to “Just Like Paradise” comes on. The lyrics are so amazing in my opinion… like life changing. When he sings “Girl we’ve been made for this, since we were born” I honestly felt that way. Like, “I am going to be a rock star. Dave knows it too.”
Depeche Mode – Never Let Me Down Again
Although “Violator” is the perfect Mode album, I bought “Music For The Masses” at the same time my older sister bought “101” and we both went on a huge DM kick for a couple years. I still listen to them often. I remember a time at public school when everyone had a Cure t-shirt, or a Depeche Mode t-shirt. I was in like grade 4 rocking this shit while my friends were listening to Rap Trax… oh, I listened to that too, but I was into some weird shit for a youngin.’
Lemonheads- It’s A Shame About Ray
Jumping ahead a few years, but this dude named Bill who was our teacher’s assistant in grade 6 had a Lemonheads shirt on one day, and I had to find out what it was about. I got “Lick” and loved the cover of that Suzanne Vega tune “Luka”, and then moved onto “It’s A Shame About Ray.” Even to this day, I listen to that album on a weekly basis. It’s 100% pop perfection, and I can play and sing every song on it. Evan Dando was such a badass, banging supermodels, getting busted for coke, and being a rock star. I’ve seen him 3 times, including the time 2 years ago when he did this album front to back. He’s a boring burnout, and never replied to my request to interview him, but I still love him and all he’s done. Brilliant.
GZA – Liquid Swords
I went through a HUGE hip hop phase in high school, and I’m still going through it. In the 90’s, the Wu Tang Clan were so amazingly prolific, and every member had a solo album out that was better than the last. Everyone I know raves about their debut, but I think Raekwon, Ghostface and GZA has far superior outings on their own. Even the first ODB album gets play on my iPod at the gym nowadays. However, the title track the “Liquid Swords” has the most hypnotic beat that I’ve ever heard. It’s like a trance, and it never changes. GZA’s flow on this album is perfect, and I remember dubbing a copy of this song from VHS to cassette before the album came out, and just killed it. I left school at lunch the day it was actually released and never let it go. Seriously, I listened to it last week. It’s that good.
Guided By Voices – Teenage FBI
Life changed musically when I left high school and moved in with a friend named Monty who was 4 years older than me. He and I used to record on a cassette 4 track, and he would play me shit I had never heard before. This was around the same time that Archers Of Loaf were breaking up, but GBV were recording with Ric Ocasek and they released “Do The Collapse.” He played me “Teenage FBI” and it was all over after that. Now, everyone talks about the lo-fi era bullshit that goes with Robert Pollard’s catalogue, but hands down, the best GBV albums were the ones recorded with a huge sound, and a tight band. I’ve seen them over 25 times, including the original lineup and I still think they suck. The best albums featured Doug Gillard who smokes on lead, and a killer backup band with chops. He’s still the man, and although my fav album is “Isolation Drills,” my first taste was “Teenage FBI” and I’m a better man because of it.
Elliott Smith – Waltz # 2
This is my favorite song of all time, no joke. I got to see Elliott 3 times in concert, including once in DC with just him and his acoustic guitar. Monty and my college friends loved the shit out of Elliott and we killed “Either/Or” after my friend Jay Price introduced me to it, but his album “Xo” was his first with a major label and a budget. It features string arrangements, and vocal layers that are absolute perfection in my ears. The lyrics are so personal and gut wrenching, but it’s such an upbeat rocker to me. I was destroyed when he died. I remember calling everyone who I knew and just bawling. I organized the Toronto tribute, and we still did one last year. 4 people showed up, but I didn’t care. I have the same tattoo Elliott had on my arm. “Waltz # 2” is the sum of everything I wish I could write. It’s simple, but it’s very articulate. Elliott Smith changed my life, that’s for sure. I still can’t believe I never met him. That’s one of my life’s biggest regrets.
Fuck Buttons – Rough Steez
Ok granted, I listen to some weird shit. But when I first saw Fuck Buttons open for Caribou 6 years ago, everyone else I was with thought it was complete garbage. My friend Brendan said “This isn’t even music.” That alone made me love it even more, however they were playing toy keyboards that sounded like the end of the world. For real, like imagine little Casio’s through Fab Tone distortion pedals. Andy, one of the two members, would jump around and squeal like an ape while Benjamin pounded on a floor tom. I loved that shit. After their debut called “Street Horrrsing,” they recorded with legendary electronic producer Andrew Weatherall, and made one of the most vast and sonically destructive albums I’ve ever heard. I’m not kidding when I tell you I listened to that shit for 3 years every day. It made me want to create electronic music that wasn’t just produced by computers. I still strive to create a combination of software and hardware based music that incorporates guitar pedals and knobs I can physically turn, and Ableton. Samplers, keyboards and destruction. What could be better? They released a new album last year called “Slow Focus” and once again, I am an addict. I listened to it today even. They’re my fav band, and Benjamin John Power and I have become good friends. Next to Mogwai and My Bloody Valentine, they’re the loudest band I’ve ever seen. What?