40 Things I’ve Learned Over 40 Years: 8 Tracks To Streaming Music-How I Became An Audiophile

It seems like a lifetime ago that I was hearing the glorious sounds of ABBA blaring out of the speakers of my dad’s 79 Trans Am back in the early 80’s. I won’t say I hated the endless amounts of mini golf games I was forced to play when I was little, but traveling from one location to the other was a bit much for me at that point in my life. However, the rare opportunity to hear music that I found to be comforting and glorious in the midst of all of the chaos was probably my favorite part. Not all of my memories of those
days are bad, but this was clearly the best one. Sadly, I wasn’t inspired to become a musician, but I did fall in love with music. At that age, I probably didn’t know much about anything, but in hindsight I see that I knew a lot about good music. I would even go as far as to say that most phases in my life could be defined by the music I was listening to at that moment. From pre-school to this very day the music I listen to is the soundtrack to my everyday life.

My Love For Music Started At An Early Age

One thing that’s unique about me is my memory. Even as a 40 year old guy I can still recall quite a bit of stuff I probably I have no right to remember. I can still remember that Kool and the Gang’s Joanna is one of the first songs I ever heard on the radio. I think the first pop song I really fell in love with was Human League’s Keep Feeling Fascination, a song I used to sing in the car if it came on. These were all songs that came out before I was 5 years old. Before my family got cable, the music of 1982-1984 could only be
heard on the radio. I may not have showed it, but I loved the music I heard during this era. I had no right to remember these things, but for some reason the music of this era really grabbed me.

My fascination with music only grew when cable tv came to my area in the mid 80’s. Although I had caught some glimpses of MTV at other houses, it didn’t compare to having it on my own tv 24/7. There was something about seeing these epic mini music “movies” with the biggest musicians and songs of the day that caught my attention. To this day I still don’t know if it was the music, the videos, the combination of both, or I was simply an 80’s kid who was drawn to the whole package just like a lot of others. For as much as I loved saturday morning cartoons and other fun stuff 80’s kids loved, there was something about MTV that grabbed me more than anything else. To this day I am surprised I didn’t become a musician because this network really fueled my obsession with it. Perhaps I knew back then that I was a better fan then musician.

How Music Became So Meaningful To Me

From cheesy 80’s pop through all of the transitions into more mature music styles of the 90’s, I was one of popular music’s biggest fans. However, there was a lot going on in my life through those times. I’m sure a lot of people who meet me eventually notice that there is something a little bit different about me. Not only was a I born with a cleft lip and palate, I also struggled to fit in socially. Although I had some good times over the years, I found myself on the outside more than I was on the inside of any groups or friendships. However, I always managed to find a lot of comfort in the music I loved. I believe that I latched onto music at an early age in order to escape all of the other stuff I was dealing with. This proved to be a lifelong trend as my fascination only grew as I got into high school.

By the time I reached 8th grade I started thinking about actually buying the music I was hearing on the radio. Rather than using my memory to replay the songs I loved, I wanted to actually hear them whenever I wanted. This is when I officially became an audiophile. Transferring to a new school district also helped with this. The kids I went to high school with often teased me about some of the 80’s music I enjoyed. By this point, I knew if I wanted to be considered somewhat relevant and cool, I needed to learn about all of these new genres that were making the artists I used to love appear outdated.

Exploring Deeper Meanings In My Music

Alternative Rock and Punk were the genres that not only helped me to become more of an audiophile, they also helped me to become more interested in the deeper tracks from the artists I liked. From Green Day to Collective Soul, I began to get “lost” in the albums I was buying. I would spend hours and hours playing some of the most well known albums of the decade over and over while I laid in my bed with the lights off. I sat there and I dreamed about life. I fantasized about the better life I wanted. These fantasies would take me into the present future as well as the distant future. I loved these moments back then. They were the moments that made me feel good. These are the moments I spent dreaming about the life I tried to build several years later.

Although I remained very current in my music tastes during high school, I also found myself getting introduced to music that was made before I was born. Up until the mid 90’s, the idea of listening to classic rock didn’t appeal to me. It seemed old and boring compared to the more colorful sounds of modern music that I grew accustomed to. However, this began to change thanks to a music teacher who played The Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band in class one day. To be honest, I didn’t think The Beatles did much of anything beyond I Want To Hold Your Hand and a few other early tracks. I just kind thought they had their big moment and that was it. However, when my music teacher played this album for my class, it was a real game changer.

After being exposed to some of the later work by The Beatles, I started to grow more interested in the other classics my classmates were into. I often heard them talk about bands like Led Zeppelin and The Doors (among many others). The environment along with my desire to figure out a way to fit in made me want to explore what these classic bands had to offer. Over the course of time, not only was I getting lost in the newer music I liked, I also discovered the deep power of the classic bands of the generation before me. As I started to learn, there was an endless amount of great music for me to explore, relate to, and get lost in on those nights when I just wanted to sit in the dark and fantasize about the better times ahead.

The Power Of One Musician

As I got older my desire to find artists I could relate to on more of a personal level grew pretty strong. This probably had a lot to do with the fact that I struggled to find peers I could relate to in my own life. I sought this out in music. One artist I felt like I completely got was Michelle Branch. Although her music got my attention very early on, I wasn’t completely onboard until I heard her second single, All You Wanted. Every single word of this song spoke to me. It was almost as if she had written it about me. I can still remember hopping into my car one evening and hearing this song as I drove to the other side of town to see a movie. I can’t recall another time when my jaw dropped the way it did when I heard this song. For me, this was only the beginning of my fandom.

Sure, I bought Michelle Branch’s album The Spirit Room and loved it. I found her lyrics and sound to be very refreshing and relatable. Based on that alone I knew there was something pretty special about her. However, as I started seeing her live shows and met some fans through her message board, I started to realize the power this person and their music had on my life. Somehow, for reasons I don’t understand, her music brought a lot of likeminded people together. People similar to me. Through her music, many lonely souls suddenly had a group of friends they belong with. This may seem cheesy today, but it certainly wasn’t for many of us back then.

Michelle Branch’s music, especially The Spirit Room, holds a special place in my heart to this day. Her music opened up a new world for me!

The peak years of Michelle Branch’s career were some of the most fun times I ever had. From spending hours conversing with fellow fans on her message board to meeting other fans at shows to even dating somebody I met from the message boards, I had found a lot of the social interaction and fun I had been longing for. I know some of my fellow MBMBers fell in love with the music because the people were cool. While this certainly factored in for me, I have to admit that I was just a huge fan of her music. The fact that I had so many great experiences through her music was just a bonus. It was a very fun time that was only made possible by the power of music.

The Role Music Has Played in Adulthood

By the time I reached my late 20’s and 30’s, the role music played in my life changed. I had less time to go to shows, get lost in albums for hours, and frankly, keep up with what is currently going on in popular music. Much like a lot of people from past generations, I woke up one day and realized that I had fully grown up. So many other things were going on in my life that became more important than all of my favorite bands, albums, and the millions of facts I had crammed inside my head. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the music died. It just means that the role it played in my life became different.

Thanks to things like Youtube and streaming music, I am able to not only stay somewhat up to date on what is going on today, I am also able to relive the past at the press of a button. Not only is it easy to take a trip down memory lane, I can even find groups of likeminded people to have those experiences with thanks to social media. However, the personal connection I have with music remains the same. If I have a memory, you can pretty much bet a song or artist is attached to it. In a lot of cases, these memories are the difference between certain periods of my life sucking and not sucking too much. Music has always been a huge comfort to me throughout my whole life.

One particular example of the power and comfort music has had on me is when I got divorced. Although I anticipated a big change in my first marriage, I didn’t expect to see it happen as fast as it did. When it all fell apart, I turned to music to comfort me. I can’t even begin to tell you how much ABBA I listened to during the summer of 2012. This was probably one of the worst times of my life. I pretty much had nothing going for me for a few months. On my way to divorce, alone, barely scraping by, and didn’t even know if I’d be able to move out of an apartment that was too expensive for me to live in. Heck, I didn’t even have a fork to eat with for awhile. It was bad. Somehow I was able to keep it together and come out stronger than ever. I’m a pretty strong person so I want to believe I could have done it no matter what. However, I don’t think I could have done it as well as I did without the comfort of my music.

The Music And Me Have Come A Long Way

Hopefully when people see how much trivial knowledge I have about music, they understand that I’m not necessarily showing off. Music has meant a lot to me in my life. I may not be able to do more than tinker around with Garage Band or do an occasional karaoke song on Sing Smule, but that doesn’t mean music can’t mean as much to me as anybody who can actually play it. Besides, if it wasn’t for something like MTV, i’m not sure i’d be where I am today. I recently landed a dream job with Sirius XM. It’s not the MTV job I dreamed of as a kid, but it is pretty damn close to it.

As an audiophile and lifelong fan of popular music, I feel like I’ve come a long way. Music has given me the power to dream. It has given me the courage to live out my dreams. It has given me strength when I didn’t think I had any. Music has helped to shape who I am as a person today. I wouldn’t be who I am today without all of the artists and sounds I fell in love with throughout the course of my life. I am very proud of the uniqueness I possess. Those solitare moments when I found comfort in music allowed me to stretch my mind and dream. It helped me to envision a better tomorrow. It’s a life I am enjoying today. Although I may not have the time to sit in the dark, put on an album, and dream, I still use the power of music to keep me inspired and keep me chasing after the dreams I have yet to accomplish.

Enjoyed this “40 For 40” piece? Check out some of the others I’ve written for this series:


You may also like...

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: