Of all the things that influenced my early love and appreciation of music, from memories of smooth 70’s yacht-rock classics heard while riding around in the “way-back” of the station wagon, to the bombastic Dr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show, from early synth-, metal- hip-hip-driven bands on MTV to all the original soundtracks of all the coming-of-age movies of the time, I’d say, rather embarrassingly the one source that had the most influence on me was eagerly waiting each week to listen to Casey Kasem’s (AKA Shaggy on Scooby Doo) Classic American Top 40 Countdown. I’m not exactly proud of this fact, of listening to (as Barry from High Fidelity would put it) “Go-to-the-Mall, sentimental tacky crap” but I think that platform provided for me, at the time in my life, the most engrossing, attentive alertness, that still remains today. It wasn’t just the countdown or the rankings that I loved, in fact, it had nothing to do with that. It was all about the anecdotal side stories and history or pedigree of the songs, the characters who wrote them, who or what they referenced, how they were/were almost never made, and how the music and artists came to be. Those stories and that focus, I can easily recognize now, as the source of a life-long continued pursuit of musical appreciation.
Why I wanted to mention that, was because I think, I guess, for my dear friend and many-time-repeat Tokyo Record Styler, Michael Warren, a major source, perhaps THE major source of his musical appreciation, which is far deeper and broader than mine, was growing up with a family jukebox, an actual jukebox in his home, in the family den I think I’ve heard, next to the pool table. Can you imagine?
Now people talk about silver spoons, or big houses, or growing up with a swimming pool, but having a jukebox…? Having parents who loved the idea of music in the house so much that they added a jukebox to their lives…? That is really something. And as I’ve heard Michael tell it, it was constantly being updated with new music, all of which was part of a daily conversation with his brother and dad, what songs came from where, how one band’s sound led to another, how before there was this genre, there was that. Those are insights that the average suburban kid just couldn’t grab from the radio, at least not without some good guidance, which it sounds like Michael’s dad was full of. I’m guessing this is often why when Michael and I, leave the record store together, I might have a copy of U2 or R.E.M., and he’ll have Lawrence Welk, Eddie Condon And His All-Stars, or “Stereo Action – The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow.” And it’s not that he doesn’t know or care about that popular radio music, and all its stories, he’s already retained all that too. But it’s as if he has a bottomless musical appetite that can’t be satiated or limited by a genre. He has much musical knowledge as he has musical curiosity. I admit, I envy this, particularly the curiosity bit.
I’ve commented before in reference to Michael that, like playing tennis, if you want to get betting, you should play with people who are better than you. Likewise, if you want to expand your music horizons, befriend somebody who grew up with a Jukebox. But rather than repeat that sentiment (too late) why don’t I throw a question out there for discussion (like Michael is throwing up his records here)? What would you say is the most formative source of your love of music? No doubt it’s a combination of many different things, but if you could pinpoint one thing that influenced you more than anything else, what would it be?
Thanks, Michael for another Tokyo Record Style entry, and for sharing so much of your musical knowledge and interest with me and all of us!
More Tokyo Record Style on the way.
Lawrence Welk – Calcutta
Label: Ranwood – R 8024, Ranwood – R-8024, Ranwood – RLP-8024
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Monarch Pressing
Style: Easy Listening
Eddie Condon And His All-Stars – Jammin’ At Condon’s
Label: CBS/Sony – SOPZ 34
Series: CBS Sony Jazz 1300
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Mono
Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue
Jac Holzman – Authentic Sound Effects Volume 6
Label: Elektra – EKS-7256
Series: Authentic Sound Effects – Volume 6
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Stereo
Style: Special Effects, Field Recording
Stereo Action – The Sound Your Eyes Can Follow!
Label: RCA Victor – SHP-5025, RCA Victor – LSA 2489
Series: Stereo Action
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo, Compilation
Style: Space-Age, Swing, Big Band
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