As far as I knew, growing up in Cape Breton was pretty much the same as growing up anywhere else in Canada. You woke up, went to school, hung out with your friends, maybe played some school sports. Sometimes on the weekend certain groups of kids would drink underage, or experiment with drugs, while others spent time with their girlfriends/boyfriends watching movies and listening to What’s The Story Morning Glory, The Bends or Jagged Little Pill (these were the big albums just as I was making my way to high school). Surprisingly enough, I did not discover these albums until years later.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been a big music fan. My father was big into folk (The Byrds, Bob Dylan), country rock (The Eagles, John Denver) and pretty much anyone who could tell a story well (Harry Chapin, Gordon Lightfoot). But he also had a little spot in there for the pop/rock sound which dominated the airwaves through the 80’s (Meatloaf, Elton John, Billy Joel). Being the first born, and because he was a very hands on father, it made sense that I would gravitate towards the same kind of interests he had. He was a Leafs fan, we watched Leafs games, I wanted a Leafs jersey. He was a big Larry Bird fan, I sat and watched Bird shoot the lights out game after game, I’ve worn the green and white ever since and musically things pretty much followed suit.
The first two cds that I ever owned myself were christmas gifts. Dance Mix 93 and Billy Joels, The Stranger.
The first was in response to the sound which dominated both the airwaves and the local school dances. House of Pain, Technotronic and 2 Unlimited were just a few of the bands pumping out of the speakers on a regular basis….
(just a quick side step here. People always complain about the pop sound which defines each generation. The 80’s had Michael Jackson and Prince, and the 2000’s had nSync, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. Although it improved as the years went on, the early 90’s were absolutely horrible….just sayin)
…the other album was in more in response to the relationship I had with music due to listening and hearing jams on a regular basis and to be honest, The Stranger is still an awesome album. Whereas my dad would put that album on his record player, I could now sit in my room with a set of headphones and put the CD into the little Panasonic CD player I had also opened up that morning. It was a glorious moment in my life. I was now able to release myself from the constraints of being confined to the living room and could now explore music on my own, in my own little world. With this new found sense of discovery I had found myself engulfed in a sea of random music. Dance, pop, rock and rap music was all around me. Looking back on it now, nothing made sense. Why did I listen to Dance Mix 93 when I could have been listening to Pablo Honey or Siamese Dream?
I may not have been able to identify myself in a musical sense at such a young age (and who says that you ever should define yourself musically) but I was able to recognize that scene was always evolving into something else, while still being able to stay the same. Every generation is going to have it’s big pop acts and rock acts. Their names might change but the sound, feel and message will always stay the course. This is how music rolls.
And although bands will come and go, the one constant thing I can always count on is to have my dad in the living room playing something (now on his iPod and not the record player) that I’ve never heard or picking away at a song, on his guitar, that I only wish I knew.
My father has had a bigger impact on my life than he might know. In honour of him and all fathers out there, I will spend some time listening to The Stranger while giving a big shout out to everything you’ve done and for everything you will continue to do.
Happy Fathers Day.