Yesterday, I wrote a poll about Rock on the Range, the long-running, hard-rock music festival which this year, will feature some of rock’s most recognizable bands: Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn and Bush, among others. Most recognizable, as my colleague pointed out, if it was 1992. Since I didn’t start listening to those bands till recently, this obvious point eluded me but he was absolutely right. Rereading that list of bands could transport you back a couple decades to when “Siamese Dream” broke onto the scene or when “Black Hole Sun” was winning Grammys. It made me wonder, if I wasn’t listening to Chris Cornell in 1992, what the heck was I listening to?
Then, later on that day, I shocked some other colleagues to the core when I admitted I didn’t recognize the U2 song “Even Better Than The Real Thing.” I honestly relayed that while I was familiar with “Mysterious Ways” and “One,” the other single had eluded me, and I had never actually owned nor was I all that familiar with “Achtung Baby.” So again, I had to ask myself what the hell was I listening to in the early 90s and what the hell have I been listening to since then so as never to have experienced the infamous U2 album? To answer these questions, we must journey down the path of my strange and unusual history of music.
Born in 1981, I wouldn’t declare myself old enough to have a music phase until my pre-teens. Enter phase 1 – the early 90s – when some people were listening to Smashing Pumpkins and when I was listening to country music. Yep, I was living in a loft in NYC, harboring a secret country music addiction. I didn’t discuss this with my classmates, but rather, I had a best friend who lived in the Catskills who I would visit often and play my Clint Black and Reba McEntire tapes with. I am neither proud or ashamed to admit that the first time I heard “Piece of My Heart” wasn’t the Janis Joplin classic but a cover by country beauty Martina McBride. Similarly, the first time I heard “Take It Easy” wasn’t the famous Eagles recording, it was a cover by country crooner Travis Tritt. VH1 had a Country Music hour in the morning where I would catch up on the latest John Michael Montgomery videos. But, I soon left my country roots behind and moved on to the next logical thing – hip-hop.
Enter phase 2 – the late 90s – when my friends and I donned North Face jackets and attempted to tie a million leather strings to our Jansport backpacks, and we listened to hip-hop. The first hip-hop song I ever memorized was Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” You know, from the movie featuring Michelle Pfeiffer. The first hip-hop album I ever bought was 2Pac’s “All Eyez On Me.” I’m still pretty hard pressed to not get up and dance whenever “California Love” plays, as I used to do every time the video played on BET. And, the first hip-hop concert I ever went to was Slick Rick where I sang along and danced to “Mona Lisa.” A good phase, but I still hadn’t found my true passion.
Enter phase 3 – the Aughts – where I finally found rock and roll. In 1999, I graduated high school and against my parents’ wishes, went to the Woodstock 99 music festival with my then, much older boyfriend. I heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I heard Metallica and I heard Rage Against the Machine. It was awesome and it kick started my new obsession. Then, with help from the boyfriend and one of those CD mailing subscription services (Columbia House?) I expanded my musical palate to include The Doors, Billy Idol, Bon Jovi and of course, Guns ‘N Roses. I have never looked back and I have since been to concerts featuring each one of those artists (well, except for The Doors). I dabble in some grunge (even made it to a Soundgarden concert last year), and who doesn’t love a belted out Beyonce tune, but I am a true rock and roll fan now, and forever more. Admittedly, this doesn’t exactly explain why “Achtung Baby” never made it into my catalogue, especially since you could find me at MSG during the “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb” tour, but it has prompted me to do something I should have done a long time ago – download the album!
So that is my journey through the different genres of music. Do you have a journey? Tell us about it, and tell us which of these genre-jumping artists is your favorite.