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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Distractions: Music

When life gets a little too mothertruckin' much, we seek out distractions. Sometimes it's simply a good movie, or a cold drink, or a big laugh with friends. Since I don't feel the need to belabor the bs, I've decided to dedicate the next few blogs to the best distractions around. Since I'm looking for as many distractions as possible, please use the comments section to submit your favorite memory related to the topic of the day, which today is...

I like music.

My earliest memories of songs are The Beach Boys around my uncle's pool table, The Eagles screaming out of my dad's car stereo as we screamed through the backroads (his racecar driving habits still not yet atrophied), and Glenn Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy." Eclectic.

I remember Taco, Men Without Hats, and even, forgive me, Michael Jackson. Yeah, I owned "Thriller." And I owned Prince's bright purple "Purple Rain" 45 as well. Eclectic? Youthful ignorance, perhaps.

It wasn't until I found myseld in a musty basement outside of Springfield, MO, hitting power chords and trying to figure out Rush licks that I started hearing music in my head on a regular basis. It's when I started feeling the music in my fingers and trying to hear it in my voice. Dave, Dan and I pounded out as many songs as we could think of. We wrote instrumentals (one called "Fucking Backward" as I recall, but not for the reason you might think) and annoyed entire gymnasiums full of people. In stories I've told before, that relationship with music ended on a less than happy note. Still, I still own the amp and guitar that crunched in the musty basement. Throwing away memories like that just isn't easy.

College came next. A mammoth figure entered my dorm room one night and handed me a couple of Uncle Tupelo discs. I was supposed to like them, but at the time had a hard time understanding the appeal. That was, until I listened to them again. I have literally worn out those discs and had to replace them since then. It's probably not a stretch to say that Tupelo is probably still my favorite band, and for all the right reasons. And by this time, I was growing my hair even longer and playing the guitar on decks and balconies in front of girls who actually sat and listened for a while. Some stayed longer than others. Those are the girls I remember with the most fondness.

After college, I thought music was going to die. I moved to Hell and listened almost exclusively to talk radio for nearly two years. I barely played guitar.

But, then I stumbled into the foothills of South Carolina and I woke up. Now I can't sleep. For the past five years, music is just as powerful as it was in college.

Which brings me to the distractions of the day:

* Stone-cold sober, hopped up on testosterone and youth, in a southern Missouri ampitheater watching Tesla and Firehouse get a bucnh of sweaty teenagers even sweatier.

* My first and last Uncle Tupelo shows, singing along with Aaron and the rest of the boys.

* Throwing my body haphazzardly into a mosh pit while screaming along with The Urge as they screamed, "Get on your knees and bark like a dog!"

* Making every effort to play as casual as possible as I strolled the parking lot at my first Dead show, then eventually learning that if you just talk to the 14-year-olds, they know what's going on. By the time the first set was over, I did, too. Or, at least, I sure felt like I did.

* Driving at breakneck speed through New Madrid, MO, my buddies right there with me screaming out the lyrics to Tupelo's "New Madrid."

* Later, driving with different friends, 75mph in the wrong lane of traffic on Highway 65 toward Moberly, MO, the CD player playing "American Pie" over and over again until we reached our destination.

* Hitting the Lake Eden Arts festival for the first time, literally following the sound of the music until I found my friends listening to another of my favorite bands, 'Eddie from Ohio."

* Catching Acoustic Syndicate at the old Handlebar, Donna the Buffalo at LEAF, and the Cigar Store Indians in Athens (by accident).

* Strumming guitars with friends and jamming late into the night, paying too little attention to sleeping babies and wives, much like I hope to be doing tomorrow night.

Again, just a few. What are yours?

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