Music has always played a central role in my life. My earliest memories are made up of hours spent with my sisters little blue turntable listening to Zenyattà Mondatta by the Police (Driven to Tears still a great jam). When my mom married my stepfather the real music education began. At 10 I was exposed to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin (check out Jimmy Page playing “In My Time of Dying” with the Black Crowes), Deep Purple, the Who, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, Jethro Tull, and countless more. My first concert was Pink Floyd when I was about 12. It rained for most of the show and from the get go I wouldn’t stop whining about it. I didn’t have the appreciation for music I have now, I was a kid, but my parents got me to shut up by relenting to my complaints and taking me home. I’m ashamed of that episode to this day. Sorry Maarten! My constant companion growing up, besides legos, was the radio and a CD player boombox. And not to date myself, but I also had an 8-track adapter that I used to play tapes in an old stereo passed down to me from my sister.
Music has the ability to capture and hold memories and emotions like no other piece of culture. Think back to anytime in your life, good or ill, and I bet you can associate a particular song with it. I remember driving to my dad’s funeral when I was 17 and “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M playing on the radio. I remember rocking out to Guns & Roses before basketball practice in High School. Faith No More still brings me back to the amazing times with my best friend Nick growing up in Tracy, house sitting for a friend and staying up till 3am playing Nintendo baseball.
Even today, I get strange looks from Christina when I dive into long bouts of silence as I flip between my album collection, iTunes and YouTube listening to songs I have and their live versions I haven’t heard yet. God I can’t wait to rebuild my sound system.
This is all leading up to the fact that I was able to add another event and emotional attachment to music last night. Because of Christina’s connections to the theater world here in DC, we were able to check out the Chieftains at the Kennedy Center. It was a great show. For 50 years the Chieftains have been keeping traditional Irish music alive, from time to time working with some of the great rock and country artists to expand their audience (they worked with the Rolling Stones not too long ago). I’ve seen more concerts than I can remember and I’m always surprised by how music, even from a genre you don’t normally listen to, can bring joy. I clapped and stomped my way through the show last night, my only regret is that the seats got in the way of being able to dance a bit.