The Ringing In My Ears

Music is an old friend of mine I don’t get to visit much these days. We used to be inseparable growing up, always had a soundtrack to life. Now, it’s more of a sampling from the sounds of yesterday mixed with the bangs and clatters of today’s noises.

I grew up in a house that always had music playing or readily available to be spun. My mother had her country, my dad with the Motown Sound and I had KISS playing from a single speaker turntable in my bedroom. The first song to speak to me was “Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks. Whenever it was played I would turn my Winnie the Pooh transistor radio up as loud as the little thing could go and sing along under my breath. It’s still one of my favorite songs… Maybe, I should buy the mp3 someday.

KISS, thanks to a 3rd grade, pothead classmate, became my first favorite band after hearing him talk about this group of musicians that wore make-up, spat fire and played loud music. These guys just had to be great. It took this 3rd grader awhile to save up 99 cents, but when I did I convinced my parents to take me to the record store to score my first ever KISS record. This was back in the days of vinyl 45’s arranged along a long wall. I scoured those records, made my selection and when we arrived back home I raced to my room and fired up the turntable. I waited anxiously as the comforting hiss of the needle on vinyl made its way to the grooves of music that would soon be pouring notes through my one speaker. After that first note sounded, I knew something was amiss. The sound that was wafting about my ears didn’t sound like a band that breathed fire, so I waited the 5 minutes for the song to finish. I took a closer look at the “white” label, a true fan would have known they were on Casablanca Records, and found that I had purchased “Point of No Return” by Kansas instead. Who the F was Kansas?

After an awkward beginning, KISS and I remained good friend through middle school.  When they took off the make-up, my adoration began to wane until they finally gave way to WNCI and The American Top 40. It was me and Casey Casem every Sunday for years. At least until the day I got my MTV and I watched a video of this little band from Ireland, waving a white flag and singing about Jesus…U2 landed on my living room floor in 1984 and have never left,

While I was listening to U2, INXS, The Police / Sting I caught a new sound wave, that of the 80’s punk revival. I spent a lot of hard earned cash on bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks and The Dead Kennedy’s. This didn’t last long, but the raw energy of those sounds has stuck with me to this day. As I grow older, I’ve found that raw energy doesn’t always come from a couple of guitars piped through an amp. Sometimes it can be in the vocals or the lyrics or the performance itself. Sometimes, in those magical moments, all these elements come together and will carry you to some far off place. That’s when I know I found something special.

Anyway, life, marches onwards and with 2 young children at home I don’t get to visit my old friend as often as I used to. However, on occasion when I’m alone, I still turn the music up really loud, close my eyes and enjoy the noise. And when the music stops the ringing in my ears is still there, just like the good ole days.


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