Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Music Made Me - Part 4

Sweating Bullets - Megadeth

We just went through a rather cohesive set of grunge influences, where's this Megadeth thing coming from? It's certainly true that I never ended up a metal-head, but it's not as if I wasn't exposed to these things. We're entering a period here where there's a lot of divergent influences coming in from my brother and my brother's friends. I remember this song specifically. Something about the hardcore music combined with the funny voice just stuck with me. That and "Symphony of Destruction".

Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang - Dr. Dre

I'm guessing when most people hear this song they don’t think of stop motion LEGO movies. Yeah, didn't think so. Well my brother, his friend Justin, and I made a movie that had something to do with… time travel? I think. Damn I wish I could get a copy of that. It had an awesome driving sequence set to this song, with special effects that make seeing the strings seem professional. And then there were stop motion LEGO-men walking sequences. And then live action sequences of our awesomely awkward selves.  Seriously, anyone have a copy of this?  I need to see it again.

Take Five - Dave Brubeck

This is what adolescence looks like. From metal to rap to jazz; all of the sudden I'm absorbing all these extremely different things at the same time.

This one in particular is associated with making chili with my dad. It was a company picnic, and there was a chili cook-off. We made an entry and somehow won. I think it's mostly because people took some extremely creative interpretations on what chili is and I just stuck to tradition. I remember one of the chili competitors having fruit in it, for example. Anyway, winning made me feel kind of weird, because I was the bosses son. I mean, the voting was anonymous, but it still felt odd.

The chili was cooked entirely while listening to jazz on the public radio station, and as a result "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck still sticks out in my head as a song for cooking chili.

Fluffhead/Fluff's Travels - Phish

In 7th grade I made a new friend named Kevin who conveniently lived just down the road from me. He introduced me to this band named Phish.

As you can see from everything leading up to this moment, this came at a time when I was sorting through a lot of varied influences and trying to find my own tastes. Phish was obscure and weird enough to give me that much needed middle school individualism that we all seemed to crave. The song I remember clicking for me first was "Fluffhead".

I remember the moment I first heard it pretty clearly, actually. Well, I think I do - I might be collapsing two evenings into one in my head. Details. It was a sleepover at Kevin's with me, him, and this guy Zach who also rode our bus. Kevin said he wanted to try smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer. I thought he was joking; it turns out he wasn't. He was the only one to partake, and the evening ended with Kevin falling asleep and Zach vandalizing him with some aerosol cheese. It was not cool, and Kevin and I stopped hanging out with Zach after that.

The point, however, is that Kevin had a Phish tape on during the evening, and it was interesting and different. I followed up later and bought the album, Junta, which ended up being the first album I bought for myself. I proceeded to follow through their discography as money allowed and eventually catch up with current day, which at the time was Hoist.

I have fond memories, but I can't listen to Phish now like I could then. But they represent a couple things to me. One, as I said, was individuality. I was listening to something completely different from what everyone else was.  Sometimes even at the cost of quality.

Phish's music was as much about the process as the end product, which appealed to me as someone who was diving into playing the guitar. But mostly it was about the moments. Their songs ramble and at times edge on dissonance, but sometimes the band just comes together in a magical way that wouldn't be as good without the parts that came before.  They really rode out the whole musical journey, embracing contrast tones and free exploration.  Mixed results, sure, but it sure provided an interesting range.

But I think the most important thing is that Phish will forever be associated with my first real friend, Kevin.


  1. Take Five was the first LP album I bought in about 1964. I have probably played it more than any other and still enjoy it.

    Phish makes me think of the concert at Evergreen and the feeling of entering a "time warp" to the late 60's. The lights went out but it was only dark for a few seconds as so many people lit up.

    Chris this is indeed a very interesting and precious music autobiography. Maybe you will inspire me.

    Gary (AKA Dad)

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