My parents gave me a Fisher-Price record player in 1975. They also gave me precisely one 45 (that’s a 45-RPM record single, in case you were born in the age of CDs): “Dueling Banjos,” a 1955 instrumental by Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith. I played the record 10 times a day for six months, which freaked me out a dozen years later when I saw the movie Deliverance.
In 1978, I heard Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time - the live version from The Song Remains the Same. Its impact wouldn’t really hit me until college.
My brother, Joel, knew every word to The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” within three days of its release in 1979. He was 11.
I slow-danced to three songs in a row at my Bar Mitzvah party in 1983: “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler and “Separate Ways” by Journey. We picked up the pace with Prince’s “1999.”
My first concert was the Cars’ Heartbeat City Tour. They played at The Spectrum, in Philadelphia - the stadium was demolished in 2010. “You Might Think” was my favorite tune. I wore that three-quarter sleeve t-shirt all summer in 1984ww.
The first time I had a song with a girlfriend was in 10th grade. It was “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You” by Modern English. I really would have stopped the world.
The theme song at my senior prom was Alphaville’s “Forever Young.” That was 1988. Now, most of my high school classmates are 43 years old.
I had an 18-inch subwoofer in my 1984 Toyota Celica in college. Bumping Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend,” Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance,” N.W.A.'s “F#ck Tha Police” and Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique album made my trunk rattle like a tin can in 1989.
My four (or so) years at University of Michigan were filled with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley and occasional roadtrips to see the Grateful Dead. When the Dead played “Scarlet Begonias” into “Fire on the Mountain” at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, I had an out-of-body experience - and mostly Ds on my report card. Dad was pissed... Mom’s finding out now.
Joel and I went to see the movie Groundhog Day a week after dad died in 1993. I had heard Sonny and Cher’s 1965 hit, “I’ve Got You Babe,” a thousand times before, but it struck a different chord that time.
In 1994, I got a job at San Diego alternative rock radio station 92.5 The Flash (now Magic 92.5). We were going head-to-head against 91X - look how well that turned out. On our playlist at the time were hits by Beck, Better than Ezra, Björk, Blind Melon, Blur, Bush, Cake, Coldplay, Collective Soul, Dinosaur Jr., Foo Fighters, Garbage, Gin Blossoms, Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, PJ Harvey, Jane’s Addiction, Alanis Morissette, Morrissey, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, No Doubt, Oasis, Pearl Jam, Primus, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Sonic Youth, Sublime, Switchfoot, The Cranberries, The Cure, The Offspring, The Smashing Pumpkins, Third Eye Blind, Toadies, U2 and Weezer, many of which I still listen to.
Sugar Ray’s “Every Morning” rocketed to the top of the charts when I landed a job at 91X in 1999. The Flash was already long-gone by then.
When I met my wife, we listened to Crystal Method’s album Vegas in its entirety almost nightly in 2000. “Trip Like I Do” is the song I fell in love to. We didn’t sleep much back then.
These days, Pandora rules my roost. I send Bluetooth signals to portable speakers wherever and whenever I can. I’m still a classic rocker at heart, but I love hip-hop, EDM, jam bands and whatever’s streaming on my Thievery Corporation station.
My favorite 2013 song, I’m embarrassed to admit, is probably “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke (featuring T.I. and Pharrell Williams). My 16-month-old son, Lex, started clapping last week for the first time when hearing it in the car.
When I listen to the songs I used to know way back when, I remember times gone by. The songs, they remain the same - it’s me that’s changed - but the music, and all that has passed, is still inside me.
I hope this Music Issue of PacificSD takes you back and pushes you forward.
As Mick Jagger says, “It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it.”