FINDING THE BEAT HOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH MUSIC
It’s around this time of year, as the Grammy Awards approach, that I’m reminded I’m not as in tune with the modern music scene as I used to be. Don’t get me wrong; I still love music. I just can’t tell you which albums or singles are nominated for what prize this year. While I feel everyone probably reserves a special place in their heart for the music of their youth, I consider myself lucky to have grown up at a time when rock was really starting to roll. In my mind, no two decades are more strongly associated with music than the ‘60s and ‘70s. The explosion of genres and styles we saw in this 20-year span was rivaled only by the number of iconic artists and supergroups this era produced. Hendrix, Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival — if I listed them all, there’d be no more room left in this newsletter. While time would eventually enshrine these musicians as the bedrock of American music, growing up alongside these artists as they went from relatively unknown innovators to the stars they are today was certainly a formative experience. To this day, I vividly remember my next-door neighbor running over to my house carrying a record, proclaiming to my brother and me, “You’ve got to listen to this!” He explained it was some British group that was beginning to make waves over here in the U.S. Their name? The Beatles. Listening to the harmonies of the Fab Four and hearing the ways they
combined classic rock with R&B elements was a revelation. With artists like these springing up left and right, who could help but be a music lover in those days? Fast forward to my college days at the University of Pittsburgh, and I was deeply plugged into the music world. Academically, I was taking music courses and even had a professor allow me to produce a tape recording examining the classical influence of such up-and-coming acts as Elton John, Frank Zappa, and The Moody Blues. Outside of my studies, I was working as an FM DJ at our campus radio station. This really let me venture out onto the cutting edge of what was being produced.
as a catch-all umbrella term for the early synthesizer tracks that were starting to make their way into record stores. I still have my record collection to this day, with over 500 vinyl records to choose from when I need a moment to relax. I passed down my love of music to my children, and I’m not surprised to see that this love has manifested as they’ve matured and taken up careers of their own. While I may not know who the nominees are for the Grammys, I know my eldest daughter is involved with publicizing elements of the award show in LA. My youngest, meanwhile, is pursuing her passion for musical theater in New York. And, of course, with the Rolling Stones releasing their new tour dates, we all know when and where our next family reunion is going to be.
TO THIS DAY, I VIVIDLY REMEMBER MY NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR RUNNING OVER TO MY HOUSE CARRYING A RECORD, PROCLAIMING TO MY BROTHER AND ME, “YOU’VE GOT TO LISTEN TO THIS!”
During my day shifts, I played mostly the mainstream stuff, but at night, all bets were off. Everything coming out in that era was creative, but some artists were truly pushing the boundaries of where music could go — so much so that it defied genre. My station buddies and I started using “space jazz”
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