Music That Changed You

And now, as they say in Monty Python, for something completely different (from my usual twaddle).

I was thinking recently about the music that floored me and changed me and my perception of music. It's happened to me several times. In order...

The Ventures — Prior to their classic instrumental Walk Don't Run, like most kids I was primarily interested in pop vocals. They got me interested in the electric guitar. I've enjoyed electric guitar music ever since. However, while I've owned a few electric guitars over the years, I've never...well, let's just say I'm no Jimi Hendrix.

Lonnie Mack — His big hit Memphis introduced me to funky guitar. His down home mix of gospel, country, R&B, and rock music as displayed on the classic album The Wham of that Memphis Man inspired Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

Howard Roberts — In rough parallel with my interest in Lonnie Mack, I discovered that there were funky jazz guitarists, too. HR's slinky style of "greasy" guitar is still a pleasure (for me) to listen to.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band — Powered by Butterfield's electrifying (and electrified) "blues harp" (aka harmonica) and Michael Bloomfield's unique electric slide guitar stylings, this was my introduction to electric urban blues Chicago-style. And that led me to many other electric blues discoveries such as the phenomena of British blues and Texas-style blues a la Johnny Winter.

Jimi Hendrix — What can I say. The whole world of rock music changed when his Are You Experienced? album was released with the great hits Foxy Lady and Purple Haze. There are many faster and better guitarists in terms of technique (Steve Vai, Buckethead, Tony McAlpine), but he was, many say, the first musician to play electric guitar vs. merely electrified guitar. If he'd done nothing other than All Along The Watchtower he'd be in guitar pantheon forever, but he gave us so much more.

Baden Powell — No, not his namesake, the founder of The Boy Scouts. This Baden Powell was a Brazilian guitarist/singer/composer who created a unique blend of classical, flamenco, and jazz guitar infused with native Brazilian rhythms, backup instruments, and melodies. I was once asked for my "desert island 10"... Ten albums I'd want to have to play if I found myself stranded on a desert island (a very strange desert island with an electrical system). I even surprised myself by saying "Any 10 Baden Powell albums." Yes, his music is that listenable. If his was the only music I had for the rest of my life, I'd never grow bored.

There's my list. Where's yours?

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    Gallup's Mirror

    Here are a few TV theme songs. They weren't exactly life-changing but they were important to me personally for various reasons, in addition to being incredibly catchy! 

    1. Doctor Who (1970s) | This show captured my imagination as a child, partly because Tom Baker never carried a gun and his scarf looked like it was about 20 feet long. 

    2. The Rockford Files. | Loved that electrified rock-n-roll sound.

    3. Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids | My favorite childhood cartoon TV show. 

    4. Superman (George Reeves) | I used to watch this instead of go to church. Reeves would stand there while the bad guy shot him and the animated bullets bounced off. Then the bad guy would throw the empty gun at him and he would duck!

    5. Cheers | Rousing tune. Series set in my home state. The actual 'Cheers' bar that inspired the series is closet-sized and now the biggest tourist trap in Boston.

    6. The Addams Family | 'Nuff said.

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    The Reverend Horton Heat. My taste in music were forever changed by this Dallas, TX band.

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      I recently remembered another early blues influence in my life. The Blues Project. In truth, they were a fusion band of sorts, mixing blues, rock, folk, and pop into a unique blend. At the time, Danny Kalb was impressive as by far the fastest guitar player I'd ever seen. I was able to see the band live several times in a local nightclub (now defunct) named La Cave. My brother and I would get there early to get as close to the stage as possible, but it was a small club and no seat was all that terribly far away from the stage.