I believe in the power of good music.
Some of my earliest childhood memories, way back before my parents got divorced when I was four or five years old, involve me marveling at my dad’s collection of vinyl records and 8-track tapes. He had it all: Van Halen, Foghat, Molly Hatchet, Queen, Triumph, Aerosmith. I was steeped in rock and roll from a very young age. I remember standing in front of the old hi-fi stereo system, complete with two turntables and an 8-track player, fascinated by the technology and stunned by what I was hearing. Whether it was Eddie Van Halen or Joe Perry striking out incredible “licks” on their “axes” or Steve Miller singing about being a “midnight toker”, whatever that was, I was hooked. When my dad played Jimi Hendrix and told me about how Hendrix once lit his guitar on fire, I couldn’t understand how his guitar wasn’t constantly in flames, based on what I heard him doing while strumming out “Manic Depression.”
I remember my first tape. A hand-me-down 8-track my dad gave me of Queen’s News of the World. Looking back, the “We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions” medley isn’t exactly the height of lyrical genius, but I’ll be damned if, after each listen, I didn’t find myself exactly that: rocked! Plus, I’ll never forget the cover art of that album: a giant robot holding the bloody bodies of the members of Queen. Note to current and future rock bands: if you want to burn an image of your band into a youth’s brain for time immemorial, make sure it has something to do with a giant robot and bloody dead bodies.
Fast-forward a few years. I was newly out of college and working my way through cubicle jobs, answering phones and talking about products I didn’t care about, and I had grown increasingly disillusioned by the state of music and radio. MTV and radio had turned so bland and commercial and I had all but given up on new music, when I discovered internet, college, and listener-supported radio. “Hallelujah” I thought, “There is good music being made out there.” No, there’s some great music being made out there in the world, it’s just rarely found on commercially driven radio. It was as if I was awakened to a treasure trove of music discovery, and it had only been a click of the mouse away.
Whether it’s inside the hi-fi stereo unit your parents own, tuning into a college station, or streaming content over the internet, great music is out there and it will never go away. Sometimes it will have to go underground, but great rock and roll music can’t be killed; it will always come back. I believe that with all my heart. And now that I’m a DJ at Millersville University’s radio station, I like to think I’m making a believer out of somebody out there who needs his faith in good music restored.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.