Saturday, May 27, 2006

so I think I'm a punk, part one if I get around to more

I've always felt a little confused, like I'm just late enough with things and everyone else has already gotten it, laughed at the joke, enjoyed the hip new band quite enough thanks. I'm not sure when that feeling really took over. I spent many years in bliss, not knowing how much good music there was in the world, wrapped up in a tiny baptist bubble.

I find myself at a place where Iggy Pop and the Stooges are both new and familiar to me. New in the sense that, for the most part I haven't really ever listened to them. They are familiar though in that I've heard of them, heard random songs by them and by Iggy Pop. There are plenty of other bands as well, bands that I was old enough to have known about, but insulated enough to never hear.

My younger brother and I would listen to the Gaither family on vinyl, which was fine because they were gospel, but we would actually enjoy and sing along when we were younger. I remember actually hiding under the covers to listen to Lionel Ritchie as I grew to become a young teenager. I'm guessing now that it was time to rebel and that I inherently knew it without knowing that I could. At this same time, there came other scare tactics. I know it sounds really lame to show up so late, but I really did have a lot training weights attached at the time that made things hard.

I knew of heavy metal. There were those kids at school, fast becoming the bad kids, that spoke of things I later learned were metal. That both frightened me while impressing me a little. I didn't know then what or who a Dokken was or a Ronny James Dio, but I heard of the names. I know now that Dio was no Ozzy, but that's another post for someone else who cares. Punk actually completely passed me by until much later.

And then came that nephew of a family with whom we were friends at church. The nephew was having problems in the mountain community where he lived in North Georgia. It never occurred to me till now that they sent him to Atlanta basically, barely the outskirts really, to get him from a troubled environment. This was the kid, in his all black and white clothes, his Vision Street Wear clothes, even cooler than Mike Stretch's Jams. And he played the Circle Jerks, and I loved it. It was however just a spark waiting to ignite.

I don't know that I ever learned what happened to him, but he was gone and I was back to the same old. I was still mostly scared of rock music because of that traveling guy with the slideshow about all of rock music being a front for satan, satanists and assorted evil folk, possibly some of them gay, all of them on drugs, and they were using music to get us all, to wrest us from the loving arms of god. He had a slideshow, and he had samples of lyrics, and all that, the fucked up '80's metal cover art and bullshit mystical lyrics were enough to freak anyone out, or so I was taught.

My first job, at a steakhouse in a mall, was very shortlived, a whirlwind of some Big Daddy Kane, some metal that scared me from that manager that scared me, the Mexican dishwasher who dry humped the dishwasher. That job was to save money for the summer in Wyoming, yet another blog. And the following fall, after returning from a hell of a summer out west, I began working a real job.

I was allowed to listen to a radio here, the first time that I could really listen to music without my parents close enough to catch me, to pick and choose with no concerns but my pleasure. I played whatever sounded good, mostly whatever rock was playing in Atlanta in the late '80's. The first album I remember buying is Guns and Roses, Appetite for Destruction, still an amazing album. And I almost went the wrong way. I was cruising down the wrong metal path, that path of hairspray, tight clothing, the really bad part of metal that was the very late '80's.

Another happenstance meeting, right at the moment when I needed it came in the form of a sister in law's nephew. His family, mom and sister, had just moved back to town. He had busted his knee in a workplace accident and was . . . I don't know to this day how it was that he and I were pushed together. But he was the final corrupting influence that drove out the glam metal dork I was becoming, who would have grown into . . .I shudder to think!

With all that I didn't listen to growing up, you may wonder what I did listen to, and I very often wonder that same thing. Very little really stands out. I remember lots of gospel bluegrass, some Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, some classical, lots of fucking hymns, many of which I can still remember verses 1, 2, and 4. I remember NPR and Ludlow Porch mostly news and conversation. Of course Willie and Patsy stand out. And I know that there was more old country mixed in every now and then. But I made a point of not wanting to hear it I think, but it seemed to get in anyhow. I didn't learn that till later

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