Growing up, we listened to the radio in Alexandria, Minnesota. For the most part it was pop music–Kaaaay-Ceeee-El-Deeeee was the station. The local radio was a barometer of what music caught people’s attention at that point in time. My sisters were often dictating what was listened to then and as such it was a reflection of the younger generation’s interests. There was a great deal of alternative rock, gangster rap, R&B, and pop vocalists for a lack of a better term. We’re talking JAMZ here, people.
Radio was an introduction to music which led to purchasing a few albums at our local Target. The first album I bought was REM’s Monster, which I got into despite it being a very mediocre album. At that age, as you start getting into music, almost anything can be found to have merit as you really haven’t listened to a lot of music. I bought Offspring’s Smash, which was actually a really good album and liked it a lot. I had had Green Day’s Dookie on a cassette from a neighbor who dubbed it and gave it to me on the school bus earlier. This was my first real experience with music and it was a slow start. I liked the tunes but didn’t understand albums and how to really find different sounds outside of radio.
As I got a little older I’d start to go to the local record store to buy albums. I started listening to more rock focused radio stations, I purchased a Tool album that became obsession for about six months, a few Metallica albums (same), Pearl Jam’s Ten, Nirvana’s Muddy Banks of Wishkah live album, amongst others. These were my 10-15 age years. I saved up and bought a CD player in the summer of sixth grade and pumped rock albums thereafter. I’d do exercises and get amped up in my room listening while trying to get stronger — using a set of weights from my neighbor to do reps over and over.
Sound pretty boring? Well it was. I was out in the country before the internet had really become a thing and there simply wasn’t that much to do out there. But radio waves were available and became an inlet to many different cultures, even if only through a distorted and glamorized lens.
My cousin was listening to punk music which I saw at his house. He was really into Green Day and had some other records from bands like NOFX and Rancid. Eventually punk music became my genre of choice. It started out with listening to Blink 182 with friends. Blink was a gateway band, they played fast music which was mostly focused on girls and how much it sucked to be a kid growing up, which fit well.
During all this time, country music was always seen as the enemy. It was sappy and slow. It seemed to be the choice of more rural focused farmer types. My sisters, my friends and anyone “cool” in my esteem were not listening to country. At least not pop country. I didn’t really know about any other types of country at the time; it was just the pop country that I’d heard. Recently, however, I’ve found myself listening to a good amount of classic country. Pop is still pretty much out of the question, but the older characterizations of country like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and other of that ilk are genuinely great music.
I’m writing about this today as I’ve been considering what types of music I enjoy the most and why. For the most part, music has been a guiding light for me. It does such an amazing job opening up new concepts and areas of intellectual consideration which weren’t really available without. Listening to music is one of my favorite parts of life, definitely my favorite art form and something to look forward to analyzing. With that said, one of my next posts will be on my favorite albums of 2016—and there were many!