Five On Friday: 1991

Two decades ago my life and popular music both changed forever – almost simultaneously.

My biggest concern at the time was that my marriage was ending. I was too young to be a divorcee, but then again, I was too young to be married and have a baby girl too. But sometimes things just are what they are, and you do the best with what you’ve got.

(This blog was originally much longer, going into much more detail about my life in 1991, but I decided this morning that it was just too personal to post on the internet. That’s also why I’m a bit later than normal getting it out there.)

But since music was and is part of my life (see previous post) – that very painful year had a soundtrack. Two of my favorite bands in the world released fantastic albums that even many critics hail as among the best in their respective catalogs. REM released by far their biggest commercial success, Out Of Time – and U2 released the incredible Achtung Baby.

But as much as those two albums mean to me personally, it was the less established bands that really made that year what it was. They came out of nowhere and injected a much needed spark into a music scene that was getting old and worn out. 1991 was the year of plaid flannel and dirty hair. It was the year that Grunge and Alternative Rock rose to power.

Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Matthew Sweet all released albums within just a few month time-frame that affected me on a very deep and visceral level – and also affected the trajectory of the music industry as a whole.

For me – it was personal. These albums exhibited the energy, emotion, and youthfulness that I needed to deal with the situations that I faced at just that moment. And for that reason, they will always be a part of who I am.

Here is just a taste of the soundtrack that was 1991:


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Play That Funky Music, White Boy

You know what? I blog a lot about music! I blog occasionally about my family, my geekdom, baseball, other forms of entertainment, and religion. I almost never blog about politics. But music seems to dominate this space.

Why?

Certainly not because I am a musician. I never could play an instrument. I took piano lessons, attempted to play the bass guitar after receiving one for Christmas, bought and briefly goofed around with a guitar, tried to learn the harmonica with the help of a Klutz book… I guess I just don’t have it. So that’s not it.

It is not because I have a deep knowledge about all things musical. I don’t know music theory or history. I am no smarter than anyone else when it comes to music. No one in the world seeks my musical wisdom. So that’s probably not it either.

I guess it is just because I love music. Maybe it’s even more than just a love – it is a connection. My life has an ever-evolving soundtrack. Every moment of my life has certain artists or songs or musical genres attached to it. It is in my DNA – intrinsically part of who I am.

Growing up, my father exposed me and my brother to all kinds of music; everything from the Delta Blues, to Motown, to Rock & Roll, to Outlaw Country, and a plethora of other stuff in between. We didn’t think that was strange – we thought it was normal. What I find strange is when I run across people who don’t really listen to music. I can’t even comprehend that! And I am discovering that it is actually more common than I originally dreamed possible. Personally I can’t imagine life without music!

I guess that’s why my tastes are all over the place. My iPod looks like an old record store had a clearance sale and I just bought whatever I could get my hands on. But I like it all – and it always seems like there are a hundred or so more that I really want and don’t have yet.

Many of my musical loves can be traced back to specific times in my life – I might even be able to explain why for some of them. I can’t listen to Tori Amos without reminiscing about a specific friend I made in college that we called “Colgate”. I can’t hear Dr. Hook without remembering the garage that my dad turned into a family room and the component stereo that took up a good portion of the wall. The U2 song Sunday Bloody Sunday conjures up images of the time I spent at Church Camp in my youth. Uncle Tupelo makes me remember the time I lived alone, between marriages, lonely and afraid. Everything and everyone seems to be linked in my brain to a song, a musician, an album… something musical.

In fact, later this week, I am dedicating my Five on Friday post to when a very pivotal moment in my life intersected with a very pivotal time in music history. Intrigued? You should be!

Check back on Friday & see what I’m up to!

 

 

Five on Friday: Keep Fighting that Foo

We spent last weekend in one of our favorite places, St. Louis. While we were there, we went to the St. Louis Blues training camp, watched our daughter run a 6K race at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals Care charity, and went to a concert featuring one of my wife’s favorite bands, Foo Fighters.

Personally, when the Foo Fighters first came out, I resisted them. I was mad at Dave Grohl for moving on so quickly from Nirvana following Kurt Cobain’s death. I was a huge Nirvana fan, and was sincerely heartbroken when I heard the news of his suicide. And for whatever reason, I took it out on Dave’s new band. Some of their music was catchy when I heard it on the radio or saw the videos, but I refused to give it more than a passing glance.

Turns out though, that it was my own loss.

My wife continued to follow the Foo’s throughout their career, and eventually I too found myself listening to their albums more and more. The thing is; they’re just good, unadorned, consistent, not overly produced rock and roll. And the concert just served to drive that point home. Apparently Dave’s a pretty good song writer too – though you can definitely hear a Nirvana influence especially in the early stuff.

So, I am a fan. And the show was awesome! They played for something like 2 hours and 50 minutes not including the two opening acts (who were okay at best).

Here are a few of my favorites from their catalog including one from their new album (which is totally worth picking up if you were wondering):


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Five on Friday – Postmarked

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about the possibility of the US Postal Service disappearing from our national landscape. If things continue to go the way they are now, the USPS could lose as much as $10 Billion this year. They have already set plans in motion to close a number of local post offices around the country. And personally, that makes me a little sad.

The post office is an integral part of that Norman Rockwell-esque image of utopian rural America that is so near and dear to many of our hearts. For many people in the small town where I live, seeing each other at the post office is just part of their daily routine. I love to see the old-timers driving their riding lawn mowers to town to get their mail. It makes me smile inside.

I know being a computer nerd that I should embrace the technology/electronic revolution – and I have to some extent – but I hate the fact that by embracing one thing that another thing has to die. It doesn’t seem fair. I don’t even like the fact that when they made a movie based on Jimmy Stewart’s The Shop Around the Corner, they had to update the story to change letters to emails (You’ve Got Mail).

I know this may sound old fashioned, and maybe it is, but I feel like the art of letter writing is a thing of the past. You can send all of the emails and facebook messages your thumbs can type, but it will never have the same personal feeling or sentiment as a hand-written note, letter, or card. It just won’t. And if the Post Office goes away, it will make it just that much more difficult to get them to the recipient. It will be just one more nail in the coffin of our already struggling small towns.

This is a list of songs that wouldn’t exist without the mail:


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Bonus Song (And possibly the best one on the list):