Wednesday, June 04, 2008

School Of Rock Part 4: The Middle Of The Road

If I showed someone a photo of myself at age 11 and then followed it up with one at age 12, they would not know I was the same fucking person. In one year I went from a little hairless, nondescript kid who thought girls were yucky into a 5'10" mustachioed raging onanist. At this point in my life I needed more than the Sears catalog and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue to quell my out of control hormones--I needed to flat out fucking ROCK. But it was now slim goddamned pickings in the family record collection:




Songs like "We've Only Just Begun", "Make It With You" and "Sunshine On My Shoulders" were in heavy rotation (often with off-key accompaniment by my mother)--but that, my friends, was the hard shit.

Eventually, with my parents' increasing obedience to the church causing them to shy away from (but not totally reject) "secular music", a new form of light rock began seeping into the house known as "Christian Contemporary". Records by born-again "stars" such as Dave Boyer, Christine Wyrtzen and Sandi Patti became ever present, with sweetly-sung songs about how one could have a "new life" with Jesus, and how one should give up their old life of dope, cock, booze, R-rated films and all the other things with which Satan wants to make one "stumble" and thus "backslide".

Things were definitely looking down--even the radio became less of an option (which REALLY sucked, seeing that local station The Loop was at its hard rock peak) as the folks were now convinced that anything harder than Peter Frampton was Satanic, and the radio was permanently tuned to jesusy station WMBI. Queen, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull and Rush were now merely part of a sinful and unspoken of past. The best it got for a while was when I got to hang out with my unsaved grandfather who only played the "new" country station of the time, allowing me to listen to "sinners" like Ronnie Milsap, Glen Campbell, Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gayle, Conway Twitty and Charley Pride.

But the one Christian artist that really won out at home more than any other was Evie Tornquist. Everybody loved Evie, especially my mother and grandmother who got an everlasting kick out of seeing a fellow Swede make it in show business. Plus, they thought she was just cute as a button--a blonde, dimple-faced 1970s version of Rachael Ray, perky and constantly grinning from ear to ear. You know why? Because she loves Jesus, you dumbfucks.


Meanwhile, my tortured adolescent brain conjured up other reasons for her to be smiling--I got a LOT of guilt-filled mileage out of old Evie.

In the end though, she was a fucking task to listen to (just like Rachael Ray), and my mother owned and constantly played ALL of her records. All the releases--the "best of" compilations, the Xmas albums, even one sung only in Swedish. And they were played EVERY DAY, in addition to the other christing vocalists.

Did I mention things were looking down?

Episode next: Evie who? My guilt-ridden teenage self abuse increases tenfold thanks to Amy Grant. Plus, Keith Green and the newly-saved B.J. Thomas enter the scene as the needle still spins Christian Contemp(t)orary.

Friday, May 16, 2008

School Of Rock Part 3: Twelve Full Inches Of Throbbing Beats

45s were/are cool, but even when I was 9 I got tired of having to flip over and change records. Lucky for me, K-Tel invented the mix tape in vinyl form, allowing me to own a bunch of songs I liked (with a few stinkers included) on one convenient platter!


What's more, the shit was free since the records belonged to my sister. I just had to wait until she wasn't around in order to listen to the damned things, usually when she was out of the apartment with her friends or distracted by the Tony Orlando show. I wasn't allowed to put my little grubby fucking hands on them even though she had already defaced the back covers with clever handwritten alterations that made almost every song title about weed.

But those were just pop throwaways--the pristine shit was contained in her small but growing collection of real, full-length rock albums. This was just before the folks had been fully briefed by their fellow born-again brothers and sisters that rock music could very damned well lead to homosexuality, drug use, witchcraft, Satanism and all-around weirdness. A few glaring examples from her stash were:

Yes, "Going For The One"

Rush, "2112"

Led Zeppelin, "Led Zeppelin IV"

Jethro Tull, "Aqualung"

She also had tamer stuff mixed in like the Eagles, Steve Miller, the Monkees, Stevie Wonder and Wings that probably provided cover for the "harder" shit--which as a side note reminds me of my friend Steve who grew up with parents that already had the evil rock music radar, forcing him to conceal his Bob Seger "Live Bullet" records inside of a Chuck Mangione sleeve.

But I digress. Unfortunately for Queen and Elton John, they began to fall by the wayside as I began to notice the harder sounds of Jimmy Page and Geddy Lee--unfortunately for me it was short-lived as my sister would soon "re-dedicate" her life to Christ after a brief period of normal teenage rebellion, and those records (as well as any potential ones that might have followed) were no more. I still had a few records of my own and the radio to draw from, but the classic older sibling musical influence dried up in one prayer. Worse yet, it was my mother who then took it upon herself to step into that role.

So, let us hear something that rocks. Because things will definitely not rock for quite some time.

Episode next: Darkness. The Carpenters, Bread, John Denver and the genre of Christian Contemporary.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

School Of Rock Part 2: Seven Inches Of Pulsating Wax

We're still stuck in 1975, where my 8-year old ass is still into typical shit for my age: Matchbox and Hot Wheels, Legos, comic books, etc. But now I wanted records. And after a year or so of heavy radio listening, I had decided that my two favorite artists were:


and Elton John.

I played the shit out of the first two singles I got, "Killer Queen" and "Someone Saved My Life Tonight". I was wearing out the needle on the record player, and my sister, then 12, would order me out of our room to go fucking play with some cars already. Meanwhile, my parents were still pretty oblivious to our choices in music; even though they were well into their 30s, they were at this point in their lives "baby Christians", and it would be a few more years until they would focus their sights on just what the fuck we were listening to. Had they been more on the ball "spiritually" at that time however, I probably would have been labeled as a potential queer, and my 45s confiscated and destroyed.

At the same time I was also into novelty records from listening to Dr. Demento on the radio and after my second cousin (who I later found out was an uncle, another series in itself) gave me Allan Sherman's "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh". I gave the record player another workout with that one and my copies of "Kung Fu Fighting", "Mr. Jaws" and "Convoy":

Episode next: LPs! More singles packed together courtesy of K-Tel! Plus, I sneak listens of my sister's albums.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

School Of Rock Part 1: Super Hits!


I guess I really didn't give a shit about music until I was about 7 or so. Up until then I was certainly exposed to music on a daily basis; at school, at home while watching Sesame Street, The Electric Company and various cartoons and at the mainstream Lutheran church I attended for a short time before half of the family went all gooey for Jesus (another whole series in itself).

It was about that age that I began to pay attention to the songs that seemed to be constantly streaming out of my older sister's little AM radio. By a year later, I was fucking hooked. I mean, with such stellar hits as these, how in the hell could I not be?


Christ, just look at old Jeff Davis. He wouldn't steer me wrong. He looks like he might at any minute try to get into my sister's training bra, but he knows what ROCKS!

Ok, I'll admit that I think this one still does:

Episode next: Vinyl! I take a liking to certain bands and artists! I buy their records! Plus, I don't turn gay!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

School Of Rock: Bandwagon Jump

I haven't felt much like writing on these here blogs lately, but there's nothing like a good case of idea theft to get one's creative juices flowing. My pal Feral is currently writing her brilliant arse off telling the tale of her formative musical experiences, and today I noticed her pal and my blog acquaintance Paticus is gearing up to do his own take on the subject.

Well, you can't have a holy trinity without three motherfuckers--plus, I have waaaay more embarrassing skeletons in my closet than Hall & Oates, which I pledge to truthfully expose in painful detail. So, do yourselves a favor and go catch up with those guys, then take your seats and prepare to point, laugh and shoot spitballs at--School Of Rock: The Vacant (and occasionally influential) Years.

Episode next: Top 40 radio becomes my friend.