Wednesday, April 4, 2012

green day in cleveland and the way music shaped who i am

i woke up to these headlines:

green day to induct guns n' roses into rock hall

my 12-year-old self sorta died inside when i woke up this morning and read the news that green day would be in town to induct guns n' roses into the rock and roll hall of fame in just under two weeks. 12-year-old me instantly began scheming, trying to figure out how i was going to get out of work for the day so that i could stand on the steps of downtown cleveland's public hall all day long if need be. 12-year-old me began a lifelong love affair with music, thanks in part to this group of goofy dudes. 12-year-old me lived and breathed green day and vowed to someday meet them so that i could thank them for shaping me into the person i would become (and to get a photo with them, of course).

30-year-old me is torn.

being a kid and discovering music (not just discovering that it existed, but discovering the power that it holds) is one of the most significant events of my whole life. there were two things that shaped my musical identity at the age where music started to matter to me: green day, and my parents old record collection. being 12 years old and realizing that i didn't quite fit in with the rest of my peers made punk rock a natural progression. trying to find one's place in the world while also trying to make sense of the sheltered past vs. the newfound freedoms of becoming an independent being naturally lead to a whole slew of emotions that punk traditionally embodies: confusion, rebellion, the need to take a stand. for a 12-year-old midwestern catholic schoolgirl, i viewed the tattoos, the blue hair, the nose rings, the flippant attitudes with absolute reverence. YES. this was what made sense. sorry, mom and dad; the moment i saw the video for "longview" on tv was probably the moment when i gave my life up to rock'n'roll. true story. i never looked back.

as if this is any indication as to how bad i had it, here is a brief tour of my 12-year-old bedroom:





besides being exposed to the punk music/lifestyle (which would obviously evolve as i got older and the whole history of the movement would spill out before me like some great novel i devoured and couldn't put down), i was also shaped largely by discovering my parents old record collection. my mom's monkees records made a huge impression on me as a young child, but now i was discovering this seemingly endless world that existed out there before i was even born and it was the most exciting discovery i could have ever come upon. i didn't mind that the other kids in my 7th grade class thought i was weird because i was giving my class presentation on the beatles while they were all keeping up with the current music trends (most notably in my classroom in the early-mid nineties: rap -- especially an emerging local group known as bone thugs-n-harmony). i "borrowed" my dad's turtles greatest hits and my mom's well-worn copy of ? and the mysterian's "8 teen" 45. i worked my way back from the commonplace 60s pop to 50s vocal and doowop, obscure 60s garage that was as much "punk" in their day as the bands who would come a decade later, greasy soul and r&b, etc. its something that i'm still discovering and working hard to learn about all these years later. there's still so much out there waiting to be discovered, which is of course part of the allure.

so that's my confessional. green day kinda made me who i am. admitting to that in a public forum such as blogspot is enough to get me tarred and feathered for ever identifying as an underground music fan and supporting things like college radio and independent record labels. but i can't deny the roots of where i came from any more than i can change where i grew up or who i called my friends. i'm ok with admitting that i wasn't born knowing who the dead boys were and i didn't have some cool older brother who was passing down his used punk records to me at age 5. i think its important to remember who we were and where we came from, even if its a less than impressive story.

and so it stands: green day will be in my town in less than two weeks, and i still haven't been able to thank them for making me ME. i wish i could say that my friends in the music scene or my position at the radio station could help me get there quicker, but i can't. i'm at a loss.


do you have any stories about things (music or otherwise) that definitively shaped you as a person? was there one band or moment or song that got you into music in the first place? i would truly love to hear all about it.

1 comment:

  1. my 8th grade bedroom looked a lot like that, but even less cool. i was totally obsessed with the backstreet boys! how embarassing. but two years later blink 182 got popular, and they were my gateawy into cooler things. we all have to start somewhere. a few years ago we drove 6 hours to see blink 182 in st louis and it was worth it. they are still my guilty pleasure.