October Project--Funeral in his Heart
Grand Funk Railroad--We're An American Band
R.E.M.--Shiny, Happy People
Rush--New World Man
Good Charlotte--Thank You Mom
Good Charlotte--Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous
During my late elementary school years and middle school years, I discovered that access to being a cool kid (in my estimation at the time) was through listening to 2 radio stations, KISW and KZOK in Seattle. KISW was (still is) a heavier rock station, and KZOK was more "classic" rock. My mother and I used to listen to Top 40 on KJR AM 950. I enjoyed the heavier rock, but being a people-pleasing kid, I embraced some stuff I didn't enjoy. Rush was easily my favorite band, and I also enjoyed Van Halen, Sammy Hagar, Def Leppard, Ratt, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Journey fit in there on occasion, and a few others. I remember a stigma against synthesizers among the hard rockers. It wasn't cool and even blasphemy to be a hard rock band that used synthesizers--rockers became their own musical purity police. I remember that rock dogma preached on KISW. I saw a video for Iron Maiden touring behind the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe, reaching out to budding rock musicians. They told them "no synthesizers!" I kept up with the discussion of the genre scene, buying magazines like Circus and Hit Parader. Rush became a blasphemer on the album "Signals." Forget the band "Asia." I liked Asia, but a true rocker wouldn't listen to that garbage. People called up KISW and called it "Wimp Rock."
Van Halen bridged the divide a bit with the album "1984." Eddie Van Halen played the synthesizer??? Hmmm. The guys I knew went along with Van Halen's move, probably because the girls were going to follow Eddie Van Halen regardless of what he played. I didn't worry about Van Halen's evolution, I was still primarily a Rush fan. At the time, some considered Moving Pictures the last great Rush album (maybe some still do). They really lost some fans with "Grace Under Pressure," a synth-heavy album. I saved my babysitting money and bought the new cassette the day it came out for $8.99, a lot of money at that time. I loved it--Kid Gloves was my favorite track, and still is an all-time favorite. I was not allowed to go to concerts in middle school, but someone on my soccer team could go, so I sent him with 15 bucks (at least 3 babysitting jobs in those days) to a Seattle Rush concert so I could get a Grace Under Pressure t-shirt. I wore that shirt until it disintegrated into cotton-polyester blend powder (an honor shared only with my Mr. Bill t-shirt). My brothers and I used to pretend we were Rush if we had an evening home alone to play Moving Pictures on our turntable console stereo. Rush was the epitome of rock--for me it started with Neil Peart and the cathartic rhythms of "Tom Sawyer" and "Limelight." I lay awake for hours in those days listening to KISW or KZOK hoping to hear Limelight. I grew to appreciate Geddy Lee more, mesmerized, yet sometimes driven to my own air bass with my favorite solo on "Freewill."
Rush is probably the longest continuous musical relationship I've had with a band. Some favorite bands today have staying power, but not to the same degree as Rush. I have yet to plug into their releases in the past 5-7 years--though that is a new music project for me to consider. I appreciate the trio more and more all the time. Social analysis, critique, creative musical appreciation and catharsis wrapped in so many songs. "Signals" is a brilliant album. It becomes more brilliant in the numerous times I have listened in the past 25 or so years. It registers more today as I recently hit 40 years old. "Subdivisions" taps into teenage angst, yet it also analyzes the real world considerations of adults and where they shall live, how we organize our relationships and the meaning of community. "New World Man" is a song that speaks to my young adult outlook of optimism about my abilities and the opportunities before me in my emerging adulthood moving into midlife. It is a hopeful, yet realistic song. I still feel that optimism in my life, yet I think it's tempered with a little more wisdom--not a good or bad thing--my place in life.
Mary Fahl, formerly of October Project, is supposed to be releasing a new CD that keeps getting put off. I hope she tours in the Northwest. I've listened to Funeral In His Heart at least 40 times in the past 6 weeks. A unique, haunting, deep and smooth voice.
I saw the Grand Funk Railroad song on VH1's 100 all-time greatest Hard Rock Songs. It's been a long time since I remotely paid attention to this song. I love finding old songs like this that become like new to me.
I'm thinking of titling my day of Pentecost sermon "Shiny Happy People." The song is great for several reasons, but Kate Pearson of the B-52's makes this song. She can still belt it after 30 plus years. Athens, GA must have been quite a place to be in the 1980's as a musical hub.