Audio Odyssey: Prelude

“Do you know any Neil Young?”
“Not really.”
“OK, how about some Van Morrison?”
“No. I mean, some, but not very well.”
“…No.”I play guitar, and this is a very common conversation I have with fellow musicians. It’s easiest for me to just explain it here. Look, I was born and raised in the rural Mid-Ohio Valley. I never got into the bluegrass or country music that is so prevalent in that area. When I decided I wanted to learn guitar, it was because I was a fan of Limp Bizkit, and Wes Borland had a really cool gimmick to an angsty 13 year old who didn’t actually have any issues. So it was settled. I was 13, going into my freshman year of small-town high school, and I was going to be in a nu metal rap rock band. That’s it! Thing is, I procrastinate, and by the time I actually picked up a guitar to start learning, I was 15 and blink-182 was the new flavor. I grew up on a steady diet of crappy small-town radio and whatever was on TRL. When my musical taste was young and malleable, I was listening to the most simplistic music I could get my hands on. I was a Good Charlotte fan. I bought into the Avril Lavigne thing at first. I turned 17 and dyed my hair bright red with a black spot. I turned my guitar up loud and pounded on it as hard as I could. I wanted to like The Ramones and the Sex Pistols, but they were too antiquated for me. They weren’t as pristinely produced as what I was listening to. They weren’t Green Day. I had gone through my angsty phase. I loved Korn, Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit and Disturbed for a while. I had entered into my so-called “punk-phase.” I grew into a new group of friends at 17, which led me down a dark and sad path. I had an emo phase. That’s a true story. I dyed my hair black. I listened to Taking Back Sunday and Dashboard Confessional. I wore plaid shirts that were too small for me and smoked cigarettes because it made me look tormented (I’ve since quit). I rediscovered Nirvana during my emo phase. I had picked up a used copy of Nevermind during my angst phase a few years prior. This is something of a recurring theme in my life. I’ve probably discovered and rediscovered Nirvana about 6 or 7 times to date. I always forget that I like them. I forget that they’re great. Sometimes a timeless band can sneak in undetected. In that same shopping trip when I picked up Nevermind, I also got Country Grammar by Nelly. I went into college with these as my main musical influences: Limp Bizkit, Korn, Green Day, Sum-41, blink-182, Disturbed, Taking Back Sunday, Incubus.Now, I’m not saying all of those bands are bad. They’ve all sold a lot more records than I have, and there must be a reason for that. Incubus remains one of the most talented bands of the past 20 years, and I will fight anyone who disagrees. Unless you’re big and strong. I still love popping in a blink album and rocking out like I’m 16 again. Those power chords still speak to my residual teenage anxieties. But what I am saying is that Ohio University is, as I’m sure most colleges are, a giant conglomeration of music snobs. My new town loved Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin. I was introduced to classic rock. I was still in my emo phase at this point. Still had my black hair. That said, Taking Back Sunday and Dashboard Confessional fell off the map relatively quickly. Green Day too. But I still held on to some of the music from that era, as well as the previous eras– the pop punk, the nu metal. But I was growing, and it was exciting! I discovered Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz almost simultaneously, and if you’ll believe it, completely independently from one other. But I have always been of a singular mindset. I have always been guilty of tunnel-vision when it comes to my entertainment selections. I’d rather listen to Dark Side of the Moon five hundred times than spend the time and energy listening to a new artist. Sometimes, as has been the case with Pink Floyd, I won’t even check out an artist’s other material. Just the first stuff I heard. That’s all I need. So, from the time I started buying my own music collection back in 1998 (Hellbilly Deluxe by Rob Zombie was my first CD) up until now, 2011, at the age of 25, I’ve amassed a collection of music that, well, if it were walking down the street in a short skirt, it wouldn’t turn any heads. I’m embarrassed to show anyone my iTunes library. Examples? Well, OK. A couple examples of why I’m embarrassed:

  • 208 Christmas songs. That’s not a typo. Two-hundred and eight.
  • 29 songs that you would expect to hear on an 11 year old girl’s iPod, not a 25 year old man’s. The average album has what, 13, 14 songs? (This includes songs by N*Sync, Britney Spears and Hilary Duff, just to name a few.)
  • Countless one-hit-wonders. Most of those, admittedly, are just there for their campiness. I used to like to annoy people with music in college. Call it passive-aggressive auditory warfare.

And for the sake of personal redemption, a few reasons why my iTunes library is already pretty awesome:

  • Star Wars Disco. That’s the Star Wars main theme, disco style.
  • Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
  • The Beatles discography.
  • Schoolhouse Rock.
  • Avishai Cohen Trio’s “Gently Disturbed” album.
  • Three versions of the Batman theme.
Back to the opening conversation. I’ve had that conversation many times.
“Do you know Leaving on a Jet Plane?”
“No, but I know Since U Been Gone!”
Oh, the humiliation. I love good music. I really do! I probably actually like less than 40% of what is currently in my iTunes. So, having had this conversation once again, I decided it was time to take action. It’s the beginning of spring. Spring cleaning, and my hard drive is past due. I began taking suggestions from friends. Anything. New, old, obscure, well-known. Doesn’t matter. I don’t care what genre, so long as it’s great music. And so that’s the mission. I’ll spruce up my musical library, and I’ll write about it. With some luck, I’ll end up turning a few people on to some well-known (or obscure) music that they didn’t realize they would love. And with that, it is time to go start listening to my first new album. Sort of Revolution by Fink. Until next time…

About TR Snyder

I’m obsessed with The Beatles. I love fall and spring. I like to read. I like to watch TV. I believe in aliens and UFOs. My favorite movie is 500 Days of Summer. I’m a sucker for a good zombie flick though. I play guitar, bass, uke and blues harp. All at a distinctly mediocre level. I often forget to zip my fly. I love to cook. I went to school for poetry. Let’s see, what else? Long walks on the beach, the smell of the wind before rain, candlelight dinners, etc. I hate auto-tune. I can’t emphasize that enough. I also hate drum machines. I want to learn drums and piano. And a second language. Probably French.