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Four Musical Questions: My Answers… And Your Answers

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This is meant to be a fun exercise in getting to know one another a little better through some music-related questions.

I’ll get the ball rolling, and then pass it along to whoever would like to participate.


1:

What id one of your earliest memories of a song impacting you?

When I was around six or so, my little sister and I got a hold of my older brother’s 45s. We became obsessed with the song “Happy Jack” by The Who.

We played it constantly, and even arranged our stuffed animals to pretend they were singing it.


2:

What was your first live concert that you remember?

And how was it?

I recently posted about this in one of Bill’s “Theoretically Speaking” columns.

When I was in high school, my brother Greg gave me a cassette of a local band called “Jump ‘N the Saddle Band” that played Texas swing.

I wore that cassette out. And not long after that, we went to see them live at a local town festival. It was the first concert I remember, and it was amazing. A year or so later they recorded a novelty song, “The Curly Shuffle:”

A Three Stooges tribute, which surprisingly reached #15 on The Hot 100. And then they basically disappeared.


3:

Is there a movie about music that you love - that some folks may have missed?

The Saddest Music in the World (2003).

A bizarre indie Canadian film that manages to be both witty… and incredibly dark.

A beer baroness (Isabella Rossellini) in Winnipeg during the Great Depression holds a competition to find the saddest music in the world. Director Guy Maddin meticulously recreates the feel of a movie from the 30s and unleashes something unlike anything that ever came before it or after.


4:

What is the first great book that comes to mind about music/musicians that you have read that you would not hesitate to recommend?

Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells.

Such a compelling story. Couldn’t put it down, and I’m not even a huge fan of his.


Now it’s your turn. What are your answers?

You can skip a question if you don’t readily have an answer to it. Thanks for playing!

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rollerboogie

I'm obsessed with music. That's what brought me here. I do have other interests. I like ill-advised, low budget movies that shouldn't even be close to good, but are great, and cats too.

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JJ Live At Leeds
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January 8, 2024 5:21 am

Great questions

1. Going to my cousin’s house and they put on my uncle’s copy of Bat Out of Hell. I would have been around 6 and it inspired an outpouring of youthful exuberance. We listened to the title song and went outside running up and down the garden shouting the lyrics.

2. First show I went to: 1989, I was 13 and we were on holiday in the seaside town of Scarborough. My parents took us to a solid gold sixties show at the Futurist Theatre. It was a midweek matinee, the theatre was maybe a third full. There were The Mindbenders, The Tremoloes and Freddie & The Dreamers. Possibly a fourth act but I can’t remember who.

It was OK. Passed a couple of hours but even at the time I thought it might be soul destroying for the acts playing an afternoon show to a mostly empty theatre. They were all professional enough not to show it though.

3. Good Vibrations – no not a Beach Boys biopic. Its a feelgood comedy drama from 2013 based on the life of Terri Hooley who was a champion of the Northern Irish punk scene and opened the Good Vibrations record store and started a label of the same name in 1970s Belfast. The name and Terri’s outlook as an idealist championing the power of music is a reaction against the hell of sectarian violence going on around him.

On a connected point, Terri crops up in a documentary I watched last month; Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland which covers the 30 year period from the 60s to 90s known as ‘The Troubles’. Its a social history based around the experiences of people from all sides and all sorts of involvement; from those perpetrating the violence to those impacted. There’s 5 hours of it, it’s incredibly powerful, harrowing and moving. It was produced for BBC and PBS so I guess it’s available in the US. I wouldn’t recommend it as an easy watch but it’s brutally compelling.

Terri sums up his contribution as; “If my kids ask me, ‘What did you do in The Troubles, Daddy?’ I would say, ‘I partied a lot, I did a lot of drink and some drugs, I had a good time and I didn’t kill anybody”

That about sums up the spirit of the film as well.

4. Julian Cope – Head On. Autobiography covering his experiences in the late 70s Liverpool punk scene and his band The Teardrop Explodes. The cliched phrase ‘warts and all’ sums it up. Hugely entertaining, comes across as a complete madman due in no small part to the excessive amounts of LSD featured. The description of his first appearance on Top of The Pops while on an acid trip is quite something.

Pauly Steyreen
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January 8, 2024 12:53 pm

1989 was a good year for a first concert.

Last edited 1 month ago by Pauly Steyreen
lovethisconcept
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January 8, 2024 1:10 pm

“Good Vibrations” is going on my watchlist. Sounds fascinating.

Virgindog
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January 8, 2024 2:12 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I played a gig like that yesterday.  😉 

thegue
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January 8, 2024 6:59 am
  1. Fall of 1977, parents were separated and my father, brother and I went to live with the cult leader. Stayed away from the apartment as much as I could, so after school I’d go over to another latchkey kid’s apartment, where he spun a few 45s he owned: I remember Bay City Rollers and Shaun Cassidy, to be specific. That September I realized how music could act as a escape from the real world, and to this day I can get lost in my music.
  2. September, 1985: I was invited to a concert with Julie (from my Bobby Rydell entry). Wham!, Katrina & the Waves, and Chaka Khan at the Vet. Unbelievable show in front of 60 thousand fans. It would be a while before I decided concerts where the way to go, but that initial experience was something.
  3. 24 Hour Party People. I still get a chill when I watch the footage from the Sex Pistols concert.
  4. There’s a two-way tie here – Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Rock, and So You Want to be a Rock & Roll Star.
Phylum of Alexandria
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January 8, 2024 7:54 am

Great premise! As for my answers…

  1. In kindergarten, I heard some of my first doses of classical music, including a walkthrough of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and I remember the dread I felt when hearing the wolf’s theme.
  2. As mentioned recently, my first concert was James Ward when I was in 3rd grade. I thought it was the coolest of experiences, especially since I saw my teacher at the concert!
  3. Modulations. This was a documentary about electronic music from 1998. I saw it when I was in high school, and it had a huge impact on me. It’s mostly about the music scenes that were contemporary at the time, but goes into history and even touches of philosophy and social commentary. It’s a fun and educational watch.
  4. I’m sure plenty of you have read articles by Lester Bangs, but I really recommend going through his collections. I’ll recommend Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste, because people are more likely to have read Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung. There are some excellent pieces in Main Lines, including various short album reviews, his travelogue in Jamaica, his interview with Captain Beefheart, and some existential ruminations on mid-70s Miles Davis.
Phylum of Alexandria
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January 8, 2024 3:01 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Ooh, I see that the doc is on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icpDt6aQDww

Virgindog
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January 8, 2024 9:49 am
  1. I don’t have any memory of this but my parents say I used to watch “American Bandstand” from my playpen. I’d hold on to the bars and bounce up and down. I guess that was my attempt at dancing, and I can’t say I’ve improved much since then. The first actual musical memory I have seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I don’t remember much about them but I remember asking my mother why the girls were screaming.
  2. The first real concert I went to was Stories, who had a #1 with “Brother Louie.” The opening act was Fanny. I now follow a Facebook group called “Induct Fanny Into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” and have told guitarist June Millington that they were my first concert. She asked where that was and we traded a few messages. She now runs a music camp for girls in Western Massachusetts.
  3. “Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon” is worth a viewing. He’s not a musician himself but his connection to Alice Cooper, Teddy Pendergrass, and Pink Floyd make it a music movie. Gordon’s story is full of unexpected turns and it’s a truly enjoyable film.
  4. You probably know enough about Paul McCartney already but “Many Years From Now” by Barry Miles is as good as biographies get.
Virgindog
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January 8, 2024 12:45 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

rollerboogie, I neglected to say that “Happy Jack” is a terrific kids song. It never really occurred to me before but it’s crazy and happy and better than it needs to be. How lucky you were to be exposed to something so sophisticated and nutty at such a young age.

Phylum of Alexandria
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January 8, 2024 1:22 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

I just want to say that “Billy Jack” is a terrific movie.

That is all.

Virgindog
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January 8, 2024 2:11 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Good idea!

cstolliver
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January 8, 2024 4:22 pm
Reply to  Virgindog

More Fanny (so to speak) coming in the next few weeks….

thegue
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January 9, 2024 6:17 am
Reply to  cstolliver

Dear Lord JJ must be laughing his ass off at all of these “fanny” comments…

JJ Live At Leeds
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January 11, 2024 3:39 pm
Reply to  thegue

Must resist the temptation to add a juvenile comment about all the fanny…….

Low4
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January 8, 2024 12:16 pm
  1. It’s sooooo long ago that I don’t specifically recall which song it was, but one of my first specific memories is of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. I was four, and the excitement of the event and the energy of the music completely won me over. When my elderly aunt asked me what I wanted for Christmas that year I asked for a Beatle wig (because it never occurred to me that a boy could grow his hair out.)
  2. I’m embarrassed by this one, but my first concert (and concert memory) is when my best friend’s mom took us to see the Osmonds at the Colosseum in Macon, GA when we were (maybe) 12. By this time, I had actually grown my hair out (first kid in my hometown to do so) and I was convinced that everyone would mistake me for Donny. Didn’t happen.
  3. Well, Hard Day’s Night is that movie, but probably most folks here are probably familiar. It is likely, however, that most folks under a certain age won’t have any idea about it.
  4. I love books, but books about music are not my thing, so, no.
Low4
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January 8, 2024 2:47 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I think it’s hard for young folks today (Those under 30, that is. Maybe even under 40.) to understand just how all-consuming Beatlemania was. For one thing, there were many fewer outlets for popular culture.

  • nothing like Ed Sullivan today
  • nothing like American Bandstand or Soul Train
  • there were only four TV networks, so limited choices
  • radio today is more heavily programmed to fit a mold
  • no online competitors to radio BITD
  • no algorithms narrowing choice BITD
  • Kennedy assassination was still a raw wound
  • gaming was a non-factor at that time
  • the Beatles were actually a great band
  • the Beatles were actually a great band
  • the Beatles were actually a great band

My concert-going experience is pretty limited. Lot’s of bands in clubs, but very few concerts. May biggest regret was skipping the Police on their first US tour. They were in town a couple of weeks before “Roxanne” hit big. I knew about them, but decided to skip the show (and I know it wasn’t because I decided to study). The best concert I saw was Elvis Costello and the Attraction in London in 1984, and that was almost more of a club gig than a concert. I did see R.E.M. tons BITD, both in clubs and concerts, and they were always great. (I should add that seeing the LSO perform the 1812 Overture in Albert Hall was a pretty amazing experience.)

blu_cheez
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January 9, 2024 8:07 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I missed them growing up, but saw their reunion tour in 2007 – bucket list event.

Pauly Steyreen
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January 8, 2024 12:55 pm

The first song I remember being my “favorite” was when I was in pre-school in Clarksville, TN. The teachers would play various songs, but “Sneaky Snake” by Tom T. Hall always got my attention.A buddy and I went to see AC/DC with White Lion opening in 1988, literally the night of the first day of our freshman year in high school. I was 14. We were on the floor, surrounded in a haze of pot smoke (not ours), maybe 15 feet from the stage. After my parents smelled us after the concert, we didn’t get to go to any other concerts throughout high school. It was worth it!While it’s not a movie about music, if by any chance you haven’t seen Donnie Darko, you have to see it. Not only does it hold up as a great movie, it has the best needle drops ever!Definitely Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad. Every chapter is essential learning about great bands from the 80’s, but my favorite chapters were the ones on Minutemen, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, and Beat Happening.

Last edited 1 month ago by Pauly Steyreen
chesting
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January 8, 2024 1:28 pm

1.) A sing along with my sister of Ocean’s Jesus-freak hit “Put Your Hand in the Hand.” I was four, most likely.
2.) Virtually no one I was interested in visited my (very) humble Midwestern burg to play in our sports arena. Sad to say, I was likely in college before I saw my first show.
3.) History of Western Civilization, Pt. III – The Metal Years. I was flirting with metal before seeing it. The music and the musicians were scuzzy and suspect as hell, but it was a community. I wanted in.
4.) Dream Boogie by Peter Guralnick

Phylum of Alexandria
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January 8, 2024 1:53 pm
Reply to  chesting

Decline Pt II was the metal years. Pt III was the gutter punks. Is that what you meant by scuzzy?

(I almost listed Decline Pt 1 as my music movie)

lovethisconcept
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January 8, 2024 1:35 pm
  1. My father played bluegrass when I was growing up, so it was always in the background of my early memories. I didn’t really pay much attention to the music or lyrics, it was just what the adults were doing while we kids were playing. The first time that I really heard “Pretty Polly” and realized what the lyrics were saying, it came as a shock. If you don’t know it, it’s an Appalachian murder ballad. Here is a pretty good version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XV7mxfIIr0

If you like that one, here is a list.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/33vtGmpnxlS1jKB3GdrOm3

lovethisconcept
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January 10, 2024 1:46 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I sent this playlist to my daughter, and she was as excited to receive it as I was to find it. Definitely a niche genre, but a fascinating one. Many of these are based on older English songs, but some are original to the Appalachian region.

Here is a pretty good article if you’re interested in the history.

https://expatalachians.com/rotten-romance-the-roots-and-re-examination-of-murder-ballads#:~:text=While%20the%20majority%20of%20Appalachian,of%20Stagger%20Lee%2C%20a%20St.

LinkCrawford
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January 8, 2024 1:37 pm

1) The very easy answer to question one is Elvis Presley music. I was a huge fan before I have memory. I remember one of my babysitters decades later confirming that as a toddler one night I was inconsolable until they started playing Elvis records. It’s what I generally went to sleep with at night at a very young age.

Also, younger than I can remember, my mom told me that I became obsessed with the Herb Alpert’s “Casino Royale” single, which I had access to at my grandmother and grandfather’s house.

2) Related to #1, I saw Elvis in concert in June 1974, just before my 4th birthday. I have the faintest of memories of that night, both of how far away Elvis was and of the big stadium (Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana). My parents said that I complained that he was singing the songs out of order and that I fell asleep about halfway through the concert.

My first fun concert for myself was seeing Donna Summer’s The Wanderer tour in 1980. Good show in my memory!

3) I have seen shockingly few movies about music.

4) I have read shockingly few books about music.

Eric-J
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January 8, 2024 2:11 pm

1) “Playground In My Mind” by Clint Holmes. Not a song I can stand to listen to now, but I remember loving to hear it come on the radio, because it featured little kids like me. I was 4 or 5.

2) I’m really not sure, and I don’t think I went to any concerts in High School, so I’m going to say James Brown at the old Durham Athletic Park (where the Durham Bulls played when they made the movie. They were Single-A at the time.) Very late in JB’s career, he still was giving his all at every show.

3) Grace of My Heart – a fictionalized version of Carole King’s life, starring Ileana Douglas, with John Turturro, Eric Stoltz, Matt Dillon and others. With pseudo-60s songs that rival those in “That Thing You Do,” including the title song by Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach.

4) “Finishing the Hat” and “Look, I Made a Hat” by Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim annotates and discusses his own lyrics, exposing his creative process, his rules for writing, and the way his incomparable mind worked.

Eric-J
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January 8, 2024 2:30 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

Not streaming anywhere, but can be rented from all the usual suspects.

https://youtu.be/nOhOiFpZJ78?si=YruxfOqwe05aEx8z

Low4
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January 8, 2024 2:56 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

My brother saw James Brown (the HWMISB) at the Macon (GA) City Auditorium in the mid 60s. The venue was segregated, with the white kids being made to stay in the balcony. By my brother’s description, shots rang out in the middle of the show and a large circle opened around a man and a woman on the floor, the woman trying to shoot the man and he holding her hands aloft to keep the gun away. The cops came in and hauled them off and the circle closed. James and his band never stopped playing.

His TAMI Show performance has to be one of the greatest moments in the history of American popular culture.

cstolliver
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January 8, 2024 4:25 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

At the risk of repeating myself … that one’s coming up again, too.

Zeusaphone
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January 8, 2024 10:20 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

It came out the same time as That Thing You Do (like they might have hit theaters the same week) and there just wasn’t enough audience for two 60s-set films about the music biz at once. Naturally the one with Tom Hanks was going to get the bulk of the viewers.

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January 8, 2024 3:41 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

The Saddest Music in the World is a crazy hodgepodge of highbrow and lowbrow elements. It’s Strange Brew directed by Fritz Lang. What an inspired movie pick. Our local film festival showed The Heart of the World. I was hooked.

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January 9, 2024 12:25 am
Reply to  rollerboogie

1- “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”
I will die on the hill for Billy Joel. Didn’t The Safdie Brothers
make Joel cool? But, then again, they broke up. Now we know
why. Oh, wait. Dean Ween is a fan. Somebody posted an
entire tribute to Billy Joel concert online. I was absolutely
gobsmacked. Ween is not exactly an easy listen. You wouldn’t
think.

2- The Go-Gos. Mom smelled pot and got me out of there after
the first song: “Lust to Love”. They were dressed in their
Rolling Stone cover garb. Oh, wait. I just realized. Maybe that
attributed to the early exit. But then again, she didn’t take me
to see Devo.

3- As aforementioned on the mothership: Gillian Armstrong’s
Starstruck. It features new wave music, authentic-sounding
genre music. This is why Once works so well. Not that
there is anything wrong with Rent. Jonathan Larson’s story
is so tragic. A more interesting film could’ve been made if
it was a music biography about him. Agnes Varda would know
how to make that film.

4- John Darnielle wrote an amazing novel called Devil House. I
wrongly predicted that it would win the Pulitzer. The only
plaudit it received was an Edgar nomination. The Edgar is for
Best Mystery Novel, which doesn’t make a lick of sense,
because Devil House deconstructs the True Crime genre.
John Darnielle fronts The Mountain Goats. The overarching
topic of the book is objective reality. Truly, it’s the zeitgeist.

Joaquin Dinero
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January 8, 2024 4:08 pm

1) Elvis “Blue Christmas.” Was my #1 Christmas song since the age of three.

2) went to see the Allman Brothers with my roommate and the cute blonde girl across the hall. My roommate had an old Chevy S10 with a single bench seat so the cute blonde girl had to sit partially on my lap. I did not object to this arrangement. We ran into another group of folks from our school at the show and fun amd merriment was had by all. This wasn’t my first concert, per se, but my first unsupervised concert and I was 21 and flush with cash from my summer job and my roommate had a side hustle selling weed that I didn’t know about until then.

As we were filing out one of our friends asked me what I thought and I replied that it was more or less a religious experience for me.

Some years later the cute blonde across the hall became Sra Dinero.

3) Not really . . . I like plenty of movies about music but pretty standard ones.

4) The Ground Beneath Her Feet, Salman Rushdie. It’s fiction, but a cool novel about the mystical powers music can hold.

mt58
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January 8, 2024 7:48 pm
Reply to  Joaquin Dinero

Good welcome to tnocs.com, @Joaquin Dinero !

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January 8, 2024 4:36 pm

1) I remember as a 4- or 5-year-old the Association’s “Windy” and the WIND kite fly in Grant Park. Great times. I also being freaked the hell out by “A Day in the Life” being played on overnight radio either on Eddie Schwartz’s show on WIND or on WDHF-FM. Can’t remember which. I just remember being utterly terrified — I think I was in 8th grade.

2) First concert experience in which I had no choice: Helen Reddy at the Mill Run Theatre in Niles, Ill. (not bad, really — she was very talented). First concert experience in which I had a choice: Billy Joel on tour between “The Stranger” and “52nd Street.” An awesome show.

3) “Mr. Holland’s Opus” may not be specifically about music, but it gets me every time. I am so grateful to have had a Mr. Holland in my life, but he was an English teacher, not a music teacher.

4) In the kinda-autobiography department, I thought Ingrid Croce’s account of her late husband’s life, “I Got a Name,” was quite well done.

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January 8, 2024 4:46 pm

1 When I was four or five years old my parents got me a record player and a box of 45s with children’s songs at a yard sale. The turntable had settings for four speeds 16/33/45/78 and I played those 45s over and over at every setting.

2 The first concert I went to was Mother’s Finest in 1977. An older sibling of one of my friends was a big fan and took us little kids. My mind was blown. It was so different from the music I heard on the radio and completely alien to the easy listening stuff my parents favored.

3 Grace of My Heart from 1996, starring Ileana Douglas. Loosely based on the life of Carole King, it’s a very behind-the-scenes look at the music biz.

4 “This Is Your Brain On Music” by Daniel J Levitin. Makes the science of how music affects the brain understandable to people who aren’t neuroscientists. A must for anyone who wants to understand how people hear music.

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January 8, 2024 6:50 pm

one: i was mesmerized by janet jackson’s “miss you much” video, and at 6 years old, it became my first instance of learning choreography from a video. 7 years later, i joined my first dance studio and now it’s one of my favorite hobbies.

two: fourth row at mariah carey’s rainbow tour! i previously posted this pic on sg, but in case you missed it, i unknowingly took a picture of me on the concert screen!

three: “singing does not put food on the table, singing does not pay the bills!” –sister act 2: back in the habit

four: i unfortunately do not like reading books, so the only one i can say is the meaning of mariah carey or confessions of a video vixen. i’ll choose the former.

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January 8, 2024 7:19 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

love that your daughter dances! janet jackson’s “if” and aaliyah’s “are you that somebody” would ignite it even further!

mt58
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January 8, 2024 7:50 pm
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Hey, @bradinfluence ! Great to see you!!

Pauly Steyreen
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January 9, 2024 11:34 am
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Yep, what I was going to say — hey brad!

Ozmoe
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January 9, 2024 9:07 am

Let’s see, for 1, earliest I can remember is age 4 in 1969, so that would likely have been “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies (the cartoon was on Saturday mornings at that time as well) and probably “Ma-Nah-Ma-Nah” from Sesame Street.

For 2, ugh, I was a late bloomer to concerts, as they always struck me as overpriced back then (I’ve changed my tune as an adult, but my penny pinching thoughts have allowed me to get a nice home of my own, so it wasn’t a total loss!). It actually might not have been until Prince in the 1980s, which is a hell of a performer to see alive, I will admit.

A movie about music that I love that some folks may have missed – can’t think of one off the top of my head. But the first great book about music/musicians that I’d recommend is The Book of Golden Discs: The Record That Sold a Million, first compiled by Joseph Murrells in 1974. It’s an incredible resource of the history of recorded music’s biggest hits worldwide going back to the early 1900s, and it’s served as a resource for many historians since then. I have the 1978 update and highly recommend it.

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January 9, 2024 12:33 pm
Reply to  rollerboogie

I too remember the start of Sesame Street. I was 6, which might seem old now for it but wasn’t then. (Electric Company didn’t join until a few years later, and Zoom after that.)

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January 9, 2024 8:02 pm

Hmmmm……

My Grandmother was not what you would call a warm person, but I was her son’s son, and the first born of my generation, so I got all the love from her. She used to sing (only to me, apparently) “Mairzy Doats”, and for years (decades?) I didn’t catch that it meant “Mares Eat Oats” – like: WTF is “mairzy doats”, or “dozy doats”? I got there, but long after Grandma passed; buried wearing her pearls.First concert I remember was the first proper one I attended – The Beach Boys in 1978 (maybe ’79) at the Hollywood Bowl. I was either seven or eight. My aunt & uncle took me, and probably got way more stoned & drunk than I ever noticed, but I got home unharmed and remembered one or two songs.I always liked “Immortal Beloved”, which tried to provide a thematic origin story to Beethoven’s 9th. I also really enjoyed “Impromptu”.I enjoyed “Daisy Jones & The Six” for what it was, but David Mitchell’s “Utopia Avenue” was a cooler, trippier book that covered similar ground. Also: “High Fidelity” by Nick Hornby” (I purposely skipped non-fiction here to mix it up a bit).

Last edited 1 month ago by blu_cheez
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