Part 2: The Teenage Years and My Introduction to Live Music
As I stepped closer to my teenage years, the music my brothers loved continued laying the foundation of my own musical world. During the summers, our house in Sherman, Connecticut, would be alive with music – particularly on Wednesday nights. Weekly beach picnics ended up at our house – the teenagers downstairs, the adults upstairs. Too young to hang out with either group, I would fall asleep in my bed to the sounds of The Rolling Stones, The Who, and Led Zeppelin echoing through the house.
I was always fascinated by the cover artwork as much as the music. The surreal images of children climbing the rocky formations of what I would learn to be the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland from The House of the Holy –intrigued me. While examining the surreal album cover, I would often find myself singing along to D'yer Mak'er, swept up in its infectious rhythm and hypnotic groove.
Another band favorite of my eldest brother's was The Who. I liked the album cover of The Who By Numbers, and as a kid, always wanted to connect the dots to complete the picture on the cover - created by founding member and bass player John Entwistle. I’m not sure that I didn’t – although my brothers would have gotten so pissed. One of my favorites from the album, Squeeze Box, with its blend of hard rock and not quite country. The twang of Townsend on the banjo and the chorus make me just want to sing along, “Squeeze me, come on and Squeeze me…”
Is there a song from your teenage years that you still can't help but sing along to? Is there a particular tune that brings out your inner rock star?
Is there a song that stands out to you for its unexpected mix of genres? The way Squeeze Box does for me with its unique blend of rock and country vibes.
Music often bridges generations. Is there a song or band that you and your siblings or family members bonded over?
I think one of the reasons the music captivated me so much was its storytelling quality. These albums weren't just collections of songs; they were rock and roll epics, what I'd later recognize as rock operas. Even though I didn't fully grasp the stories back then, the music had a way of drawing me in, allowing me to follow along. The concept of turning an album into a story, with each song as a chapter, was a groundbreaking approach, and it was one that truly set the band apart.
The Who released Tommy in 1969 fusing hard rock with classical music, creating an incredible operatic soundscape. They followed it up with Quadrophenia in 1973, taking the fullness to a new level by incorporating elements of rock, R&B, and soul, resulting in a sound that is powerful and emotionally resonant. Who’s Next was in between and contained some of their biggest hits, still popular today – Baba O’Riley and Behind Blue Eyes. Still some of my favorites to listen to today.
I love the full, rich, evocative sound of both Quadrophenia and Tommy. As a child, when the movie was released, I begged my mom to let me see the movie when it came out in 1975. But no luck – I was only 10 years old. She didn’t think it was age-appropriate. She wasn’t wrong. Despite her 'no,' the music never missed a beat in our house. One classic song from the movie, See Me, Feel Me/Listening to You, wasn't originally on the album. However, it was performed by the band at Woodstock that year and subsequently made its way into the movie.
My mother did eventually permit me to go to my first concert. My brothers loved live music and introduced me to this world gently. My first live performance would be at the New Fairfield County Playhouse, and it would be none other than Barry Manilow. “Mandy” was his big hit then and one I loved to sing along to.
Do you remember your first concert? And how old were you? Did your siblings influence your musical tastes? Share your experiences– I’d love to hear how in the comments.
What song takes you back to your first concert experience? Did your siblings influence your musical tastes? If so, please share – I’d love to hear how in the comments.
As my older brother left for college, my other brother's influence on my music taste began to take center stage. The shift was noticeable: the escapist and mythical narratives of rock and roll anthems gradually made way for the edgier realms of punk rock. This new wave brought with it tight arrangements, sharper lyrics rich in social commentary, and more introspective storytelling. During this period, keyboards and synthesizers began to play a more prominent role, underscoring the evolving soundscape of our musical journey.
Patti Smith's iconic 'Easter' album cover and Sex Pistols posters were fixtures on my brother's bedroom walls, signaling a shift in our musical landscape. The air was soon filled with the raw energy of The Clash, the glam-punk of New York Dolls, and the pioneering sounds of Blondie. More female vocalists and leads were starting to take over the scene.
As rock and roll evolved into a harder, more rebellious sound, it was as if it was blowing the doors off their hinges. Amidst this revolution, one of my brother's enduring favorites emerged – Elvis Costello. Accidents Will Happen has always been a standout track for me. This song masterfully blends catchy riffs with a cynical take on infidelity, creating an absorbing contrast. The upbeat melody juxtaposed with its sharp, biting lyrics, particularly lines like, 'And it's the damage that we do we never know, It's the words that we don't say that scare me so,' resonates deeply, illustrating the complex layers of human relationships.
I would be jumping around my room as soon as I heard the prominent, pulsating bass line and its sharp, staccato guitar riffs. I can’t help but move to the beat even all these years later. I remain a fan of Elvis Costello and have enjoyed seeing him live a few times – although not as many times as my brother. Whenever Elvis comes to town, he usually sees him.
The last time was May 2011 at the Beacon Theatre for the Revolver tour, where Elvis joined The Attractions once again. He had a giant wheel with songs and categories like “Has the word ‘time’ in them” that he would invite an audience member to come up, spin the wheel to make the selection. The night was electric and closed with Elvis playing Prince’s Purple Rain, followed by Pump It Up and Peace, Love and Understanding.
As I journeyed through my teenage years, the albums and artists that echoed through our home set the stage for my deepening love of music. From the fascinating album covers to the groundbreaking rock operas, every note and lyric seemed to pave the way for what was next. But it wasn't just about listening anymore. I was about to step into a world where music wasn't just heard but experienced.
Let me know about your earliest memories of music in the comments. What was your first concert? Who did you go with and where was it at? Did your siblings or cousins share music with you? What songs do you remember your siblings listening to that might have shaped your lifetime soundtrack?
In Part 3, I'll take you into the heart of the live music scene that truly defined my teenage years. From the electrifying energy of punk rock to unforgettable nights under the bright lights of concert venues, these were the moments where my musical landscape shifted from the living room to the live stage, bringing with it a whole new dimension of sound and excitement.
As I wrap up this chapter of our musical journey, if you missed the beginning of this series or simply want to revisit the tunes and tales that started it all, feel free to check out Part 1: Resonating Influences - The Men Who Tuned My First Notes .
Stay tuned for Part 3, where we'll continue to explore the evolving soundtrack of my life and the unforgettable live music experiences that shaped my teenage years. And boy, were they something!
About the Creator
Exploring life through writing, art, and photography, drawing inspiration from the natural world and beloved tales. Author of "Xine's Pack of Strays & Others," about life with my dogs, I review books, hoping to encourage others to read.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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