What Music Did You Grow Up On?

I grew up essentially listening to three songs.

When me, mom and sis moved in with my Grams, mom left a lot behind. Her records were one casualty. We had the white album by the Beatles, Elton John’s first album, and Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell. In fact, I still have all those discs, and they still play relatively well, despite our grubby little kiddy hands smudging them.

Music was important to mom and it still is. She still introduces me to music I wouldn’t otherwise have heard. The latest is Alison Krauss. Back then, I remember trips to Mickey Music, a record shop in a Belleville strip mall. And looking for oldies shops in New York, where she hunted and finally found the Phil Spector Christmas Album and Elvis’s gospel album. My uncle Paul still has boxes of original 45’s from the early rock ‘n roll / R&B era, from “Speedo” and “Earth Angel” to obscure greats like the Jive Bombers (immortalized in John Waters’ Cry Baby). Unc ran a couple bars and would let us pick through the jukebox discs when they cycled through the latest tunes.

I think that’s how at age seven, I wound up with singles of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising/Lodi,” KISS “Detroit Rock City/Beth,” and Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” We played those platters until the grooves became distorted. Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” was also a favorite. The opening horns drove me and Danielle into dances of spastic joy. Detroit Rock City, Grapevine, and Bad Moon Rising are still three of my favorite songs of all time. Like mutagenic substances, my proximity to the record player altered my DNA.

Mom thought music was a necessity, like I said. I remember Styx’s “Paradise Theater,” Elton’s Yellow Brick Road, Donna Summer, Steely Dan, and albums we’d break out to laugh and remember when we thought this music was cool, such as Leo Sayer. Elton’s “Crocodile Rock” with its ’50s nostalgia was one we’d always sing in the car.

The first album I bought was A Flock of Seagulls. I still dig their B-sides and minor hits like “Wishing” and “Telecommunication.” They still play casinos on the west coast. Next time I visit, I’ll make sure I see them.

So, what music did you grow up on?

 

14 thoughts on “What Music Did You Grow Up On?

  1. Until The Beatles and The Beach Boys in 1962, I thought white guys playing rock and roll was pretty much a joke. Strictly cover work for real R&B. When my buddy and I started a garage band a few years later, half of our play list was Creedence. A lot easier to play and sing than The Beatles, for sure. Running Through the Jungle. Green River. And every frat party we played, they asked for Grapevine. We HAD to learn it, so we did the CCR version.

  2. Folks that were big when I was a kid were Elvis and the Everly Brothers (or, as we called them, the Everly “Sisters” (rumor was, they were gay… for each other… big whup), and then Cream (with Ginger Baker), Jackie Wilson, and the Stones (always looked at the Beatles as a “bubblegum group for 12-year-old girls–Stones were “real” rock ‘n roll), James Brown, Eartha Kitt, Nancy Wilson, Miles Davis, and a bunch of others. I remember when the very first rock ‘n roll song came out–I was 12 and on a camping trip to Garner State Park in Texas when Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” came on the radio. (Some claim the first was Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” which was also popular, but Berry’s just was rawer.) Was just talking about this yesterday, Tom, and my take on it is that the fifties and sixties set the tone for R&R and since the seventies it’s all been downhill. Just about every artist in the fifties and sixties I can identify within a few seconds–since the seventies, they pretty much sound alike. Don’t hear anything very original. But, that’s what my dad said about my music, so maybe I’m just old… Really cool post and brings up lots of memories.

  3. Folks that were big when I was a kid were Elvis and the Everly Brothers (or, as we called them, the Everly \”Sisters\” (rumor was, they were gay… for each other… big whup), and then Cream (with Ginger Baker), Jackie Wilson, and the Stones (always looked at the Beatles as a \”bubblegum group for 12-year-old girls–Stones were \”real\” rock \’n roll), James Brown, Eartha Kitt, Nancy Wilson, Miles Davis, and a bunch of others. I remember when the very first rock \’n roll song came out–I was 12 and on a camping trip to Garner State Park in Texas when Chuck Berry\’s \”Maybellene\” came on the radio. (Some claim the first was Bill Haley\’s \”Rock Around the Clock\” which was also popular, but Berry\’s just was rawer.) Was just talking about this yesterday, Tom, and my take on it is that the fifties and sixties set the tone for R&R and since the seventies it\’s all been downhill. Just about every artist in the fifties and sixties I can identify within a few seconds–since the seventies, they pretty much sound alike. Don\’t hear anything very original. But, that\’s what my dad said about my music, so maybe I\’m just old… Really cool post and brings up lots of memories.

    Quit following Elvis when he got out of the Army. He became “establishment” then and even parents liked him and he sold out… Prior to that, he really was THE KING.

    • I’m with you on the Beatles. They were really influential- every guy wanted to pick up a guitar and get girls after that- but they are very much the pop side of rock ‘n roll.
      Maybelline is one of my favorite Chuck tunes. I can let the song play in my head any time I need, and he captures American road culture better than anyone. No Particular Place to Go? Maybelline, chasing his cheating woman… Nadine, in her coffee-colored Cadillac. Chuck only plays NYC on New Year’s Eve. I might have to go see him this year, before he’s duckwalking in Hell and stealing the Devil’s girlfriends.

      • Forgot about those Berry songs! But, they kind of prove my point about R&R after the seventies–it’s probably just me (and my advanced age!), but while I can recall instantly how the song sounded and the singer’s voice from someone from that era–all unique–I can’t begin to recall many singer’s voices after that. They all kind of sound alike… derivative… My kid and I have this argument all the time…

        I remember going to see a Battle of the Bands in Chicago Stadium years ago and I went mostly to see Segar. Also on the venue were UFO and Peter Frampton. There were 10 groups on the venue, but those are the only ones I remember. Frampton had just brought out his album “I’m in You” and his audience almost entirely consisted of bubblegummers (12-year-old girls), and his set preceded Segar’s. Well, somebody threw a full waterbottle from high up in the stands and it hit Frampton and knocked him out and Segar’s band had to come on to finish his set as well as do his own. The crowd went nuts. It was perfect. Half of a Frampton song… and almost two sets from Segar! Doesn’t get much better than that. Unless one could delete the half of Frampton’s song…

        Best two concerts I ever went to was to James Brown’s in Bermuda in 1963–my buddy and I were the only white guys in the audience and got mauled when he started throwing his cuff links and scarves into the audience. The other was a Tina Turner concert where I got arrested for getting up on stage with her to dance. I was a bit high… She had the most magnificent pair of legs ever invented…

        Oh–one other. Saw Molly Hatchet and blew out my eardrums for two weeks. Biggest speakers I’ve ever seen and I stood next to one the entire concert.

  4. Good post, Thomas. 70’s Rock played a big part of my youth but I have great memories of waking up in the morning (school) to the songs of Simon & Garfunkel on my alarm clock. It was state of the art as it had a tape player built in.

    The 80’s were the 80’s. Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Adam and the Ants BUT I was still a rocker and loved Van Halen, Judas Priest, Kiss, Iron Maiden etc.

    I don’t pigeon hole music, though, as I like all kinds…..as long as it doesn’t involve boy/girl bands, Justin Beiber, cover versions – I think you know what I’m saying.

    • Same here David- I was just talking with Dave Marsh- rock critic and PROTECT life member who wrote the forward for Protectors- about how I like anything that’s got real soul or emotion. That’s usually rock ‘n roll, blues, soul, folk, bluegrass and such.
      All over the place.

  5. Great post and you had some top musical tastes, Tom.

    For me it went like this: my dad listened to Johnny Cash and Jim Reeves. Mom listened to Sinatra. Older sister listened to Pink Floyd and Zeppelin. I picked up Springsteen and U2. But now listen to mostly Jazz.

    • I came late to Cash and Sinatra but love them. Faves are the two prison concerts for Johnny and Frank’s V-Discs, the records for the troops in WW2. Required listening.

  6. It depends what you mean by “grow up.” The Beatles were the first group I really discovered on my own. We climbed into our new Chevy, turned on the radio, and SHE LOVES YOU was playing. It sounded completely different from anything I had heard. And they looked and talked differently too. I was 14. I loved all of the sixties music from Motown to Swinging London. I was very indiscriminate as long as it didn’t sound like the big band stuff my parents liked.

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