My parents taught me a very important lesson when I was younger and that lesson is what created my initial interest and love of music. There was always music playing in our house and that was definitely a factor in my upbringing, but the thing that really transformed my view on music was the love my parents had for it. It was the passion and emotion that these songs or artists brought out in them that made me realize that it was more than just something you listened to–my parents planted in me an initial spark and it was this spark that taught me how to be affected by, moved by, and changed by music.
Mixed-tapes are pretty cool
The making of a mixed-tape may seem silly and somewhat cheesy but for my dad and I, it was serious. It was an art and if there was ever such a thing as a perfect mix, we were the ones that created it. During the afternoon, usually on Fridays or Saturdays, my dad and I would come home with plastic bags filled with blank tapes. We’d say hello to my mom before descending down the basement stairs. When we emerged hours later, we’d have two, maybe three, completed mixes, cover art and all. We presented them proudly, discussing the importance of each track to the overall feeling. My mom would just nod and reward our hard work with lemonade or iced tea.
It wasn’t just the activity itself that makes these moments memorable for me—it was the way my dad and I talked and the way those conversations made me feel. When we were talking music, we were equals. He never talked down to me or acted like he knew more. Our conversations were rich because they came from the same place—a love of the subject.
Road Trips are better with a little musical trivia
My family and I rarely took trips on airplanes. My dad loved to drive and if it was possible to get to our destination by car, we went by car. This usually meant that my siblings and I would be sitting down, with no personal space, for hours on end (my dad was also big on stopping as little as possible which meant very few chances to get out and stretch our legs). Our biggest form of entertainment came from the radio. We’d tune in to the classic rock station, usually WHJY (or its equivalent if we were driving out-of-state), and we’d play musical trivia with the songs that came on. This began innocent enough, but eventually developed a life of its own. Money got involved and the competition got intense, although I usually found myself at the top, in most correct answers and in most cash won. The questions began simple—‘Who sings Stairway To Heaven? What album is Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London on? What about The Who’s My Generation? Which Beatle sings I’ve Just Seen A Face’?—and developed over time. My brother and sister lost interest after the monetary reward was taking away, but I pressed on. By the time I reached middle school, I found that I could answer any question my dad asked with ease. I could even bring up information he wasn’t aware of.
These moments in my past helped shape the person I eventually became. They planted the seed of curiosity in my mind and I’ve been helping it to maturity ever since. I’m moved by music, I’m changed by music, and I’m in awe of music. The way it can affect us, the intricate ways in which different genres have developed and grown, the cultural importance of it, its role in our popular culture, in our everyday lives. The way songs can make us weep or laugh, the way the opening notes can send us back to moments in the past.
The Who’s Quadrophenia
What my ‘classic rock childhood’ gave me was curiosity –it made me want to seek out new sounds, new musicians, and new albums. I first discovered The Who’s Quadrophenia at a young age and I fell head over heels in love with it. It’s one of the few albums that I still get emotional about when listening to it. I found myself connecting with it in an unexplainable way–Quadrophenia just got me.
A few days ago I got to see The Who perform in Rhode Island on their Quadrophenia + more tour and it was this concert experience that inspired me to write this post. In honor of that concert, here’s the entirety of the album via Youtube:
Please! Do yourself a favor and give this album a good and proper listen!