Music is important to all of us. It’s the life essence that binds us, comforts us, angers us and inspires us. Below is a collection of my influences, nostalgic triggers and feel good songs of the 26 + years I’ve spent on this earth. Enjoy .
Led Zeppelin – Kashmir
No classic rock connoisseur would leave Led Zeppelin off their AudioBiography. While some of my oldest pals might disagree, I first started listening to Zeppelin in the 4th grade. While everyone else was digging Hanson (cough Dan Barbera and Jason Gregorin) I was bobbing my head to the heavy drop tuned descending riffs of Jimmy Page and Co. Although Puff Daddy would go on to ruin Kashmir, the original still holds true as one of classic rock’s most recognizable tunes. My big head, bowl cut, glasses wearing 4th grade self would agree.
Rage Against The Machine – Guerilla Radio
I could bore you with plenty of 2000’s popular rock and Nü Metal such as Limp Bizkit and Korn, but quite frankly that shit isn’t cool anymore; Rage still is. In junior high school, skateboarding was life and there isn’t one song that reminds me more of spending countless hours in the spring and summer at the local skateparks than Zack Dela Rocha’s angry, politically-charged lyrics and Tom Morello’s signature guitar tricks. Oh, and this one was in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2…nostalgia.
The Eagles – Hotel California
Most kids in the late 90’s/early 2000’s first concert experience was something along the lines of backstreet boys featuring *NSYNC. Mine was seeing The Eagles with my super fan mom. Lisa loves The Eagles. Seeing this flawless performance from Don Henley and Co. further shaped my taste for classic rock for years to come. The real treat was seeing Cleveland native/lead guitarist Joe Walsh in his element which inspired me to pick up the six string myself.
Van Halen – Eruption
This song for any aspiring guitarist is a right of passage into new levels of technicality. I remember pulling out the sheet music to this one for the first time, and after hours of practice and a little finesse, was able to pull off (no pun intended) the entire track note for note in front of one of my buddies. Faces were melted and rights of passages were cleared.
Tom Petty – You Wreck Me
My dad was always a huge Tom Petty fan and his influence eventually trickled down to me. The song itself is pretty ambiguous and doesn’t really paint a picture until the line “I’ll be the boy in the corduroy pants, you’ll be the girl at the high school dance.” Ah yep, got it– guys got a case of the broken heart. “You wreck me baby, you break me in two. But you move me honey, yes you do.”
Seal – Kiss From A Rose
This song seems to find its way in and out of my life multiple times over. First, with the release of Batman Forever in 1995, the second most disappointing Batman movie behind the trainwreck that was Batman & Robin led to me believe this song sucked due to association; however, with the advent of learning multiple instruments, I learned to listen to music differently, thus finding a deeper appreciation for Seals tantalizing vocal stylings, whether it being the soothing acapella intro or incredible vocal layering of the songs bridge…and wow I’m getting too Patrick Bateman in this write up. Now picture a bunch of high school guys drunkenly belting this song out in unison in my parent’s garage.
Birdman ft. Lil’ Wayne – Stuntin’ Like My Daddy
Behind T.I.’s “What You Know” (see: below), this is the other track that reminds me of the copious amounts of fun that Mentor High’s Class of ’07 shared with one another. Cheers to countless house parties, booze-filled limo buses, Fiesta Drive Thru, more house parties…oh and the D.O.
T.I. – What You Know
In my opinion, this IS the anthem for those who graduated high school in 2007. Quite frankly, I have too many outlandish and unbelievable anecdotes related to this song so I don’t even have the space to write it all down. For those of you who were there with me during those times: Just look back and smile. (E.g. editor Nick Battaglia freestyle rapping in my garage with such flow as “I’m from the bay, the Mentor Bay. Word” [Editor’s note: Can confirm. Huge dweeb.] )
Rush – Far Cry
If you know me, you know I fucking love Rush. “Rush is the greatest band in the world.” With that being said, I wasn’t always the super fan that I am today. I always knew of such hits as “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” but it wasn’t until I heard “Far Cry” off 2007’s Snakes and Arrows wherein I realized there was so much more to this band than just some fun, radio friendly hits where this amazingly technical bassist sung with an ungodly high voice. Whether it was the open F# chord leading into the songs heavy main riff or the lyrics “It’s a far cry from the world we’d thought we’d inherit /one day I feel I am ahead of the wheel and the next it’s rolling over me”. This song helped open up a catalog spanning 40 years of progressive rock that stands the test of time and has played a huge influence on countless rock musicians for generations to come, including myself. Happy retirement to the professor himself, Neil Peart.
Steve Vai – The Animal
Probably my all time favorite guitarist/instrumentalist. Also the most technically impressive concert I’ve had the pleasure of attending. I challenge anyone to find a more tastefully written guitar lick compared to the one at 1:03.
Steve Miller Band – Jet Airliner
This song helped usher in another chapter in my life as I distinctly remember hearing this one on the radio as I was driving down I-71 South with all my worldly possessions, making the big move to The Ohio State University and the great city of Columbus, Ohio. Being a song all about making moves and taking chances, this was the perfect way to enter the then unfamiliar place I now call Home.
Phil Collins – Sussudio
“This is Sussudio, great song.. Personal favorite.” – Patrick Bateman in American Psycho [Editor’s note: 10 points Gryffindor for shouting out American Pyscho twice]
This is one of the two songs that reminds me of college the most. Whether blaring it on Ohio State’s Oval prancing around shirtless — trying (keyword: trying) to attract the local co-ed’s or blaring it at the years biggest house party — Phil Collins was always with us…and we were always with Phil Collins.
Knife Party – Internet Friends
This track defined my last year or undergrad. Not so much the premise of the song itself, moreso the memories associated with it, including: The Yacht Club, Drop It Like It’s Yacht, the Catalina Wine Mixer, Whitney Houston, and Dan sleeping until noon. “You blocked me on Facebook, now you’re going to die.”
Bassnectar – Empathy
The ultimate cruising-down-the-freeway-breaking-the-speed-limit jam. Now and forever. **Disclaimer** do not break the law.
Harry Chapin – Cats in the Cradle
I first heard this song in the 7th grade when a friend and I were both starting to play guitar. I’ll leave the friend anonymous for lack of embarrassment but this was one of the first songs he attempted to learn on guitar. We joked and laughed about it like most immature 7th graders do, but I recently rediscovered this song and quite frankly it scares me to death in more ways than one. As human beings we need to remember to take time away from the rat race of life and appreciate the little things — whether that be your kids, significant other or family — because you never know when circumstances will change and the most important pieces of life fade away. It also paints the picture of the type of father I will never be.
Dream Theater – The Dark Eternal Night
Ha! And you didn’t think I would put something metal as f*ck on here…Think again. Prog Metal giants Dream Theater have been one of my favorites for quite some time but “The Dark Eternal Night” takes the cake as my all-time favorite Dream Theater track. I’m talking syncopated riffs, over 100 time signature changes, ranging from 15/16, 13/8, 7/8 and 13/16, and the cheesiest metal lyrics one could muster lead into an amazing 9 minute piece of music. It’s one more reason why I should add a 7 string guitar to my collection (on the list of 2016 purchases).
Harold Van Lennep – Liberation
“What happens when life breaks down? When there is systemic contradiction.” Nuff said.
Royal Blood – Little Monster
A refreshing duo that I’m appreciating at the current moment:3:03 pm on December 9th. 2015. Maybe rock isn’t dead?
Honorable Mentions: AC/DC, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Eminem, Skrillex, Miley Cyrus, Dr. Dre, Alice in Chains, Little Big Town, The Who, Chris Cornell
[Editor’s note: Thanks to Rush for the header image. Mike’s out in the crowd…somewhere..]