The Music Blog: Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

I think every generation believes the music of their youth was the best ever, but my generation’s music really was. Born in 1963 I have been truly blessed to grow up with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and a host of others. I literally could go on and on. My generation appreciated album cover art, in fact there are albums I bought because of the cover alone. When Grunge came to life I was of an age where I could really appreciate it, as those guys were my age. No wonder my life is filled with music and it holds such prominence in my life. We all die though, and inevitably that generation of rock stars that I idolized so much are all slowly inexorably dying. Some of those deaths hit me harder than others, and some who will eventually die are going to devastate me. There have been times in my life where it seemed the music I loved was my only friend and when I couldn’t relate to my parents at all I could perfectly relate to the music I listened to. That music comforted me, was the soundtrack to amazing times, and horrible sadness.

Eddie Van Halen died October 6, 2020.

If you had asked me a month or a week before his death what it would mean I am very sure I would have said something like that it would be sad, but I would be all right. I loved Van Halen but I can’t say I lived and died by what that band was doing. I am one of the few who think the band was better with Sammy Hagar than David Lee Roth but I like the band’s music regardless of who was singing. Yes, I ignore the Gary Cherone debacle.

Eddie Van Halen died October 6, 2020.

I was surprised, but my reaction baffled me.  I couldn’t stop crying for hours and was saddened for a week. His death hit me so hard that I had to really think about what it meant and why it meant so much. Everything in my life is tied up in memories all built around music and songs. The grief I felt was about more than Eddie. It was about a memory of kindness, in fact one of the kindest moments that has ever happened to me.

Some time in my freshman year of high school, which in my school district we just called the 9th grade as we were still housed in the junior high, my dad started traveling more and more for work, assisting rural post offices with their accounting problems. More and more he was away from home and more and more the distance between us grew. My mom worked a lot. It did not take a genius to figure out there were problems. Eventually they would separate and divorce. Life happens. On my 15th birthday my mom worked and my dad was out of town. My sister graduated high school that year and was gone from home more than she was home. She had a steady boyfriend, a man she would marry and the father of her two children. I thought Tim was a great guy. It did not take much for me back in those days. He would sometimes buy me and my friends some beer or even a bottle of something stronger if we asked. He would always tell me to be careful. Every time he came over to our house he stopped by my room to say hello.

As I moved into my sophomore year things for me just fell apart. Over the next year they would get worse and really I felt this way until about half way though my junior year and I have never once in my left felt as lost as I did then. The first Van Halen album was released in 1978. I loved that album. High school is not easy for many people. I have a friend my age and high school is literally the best years of her life. My life only got better after high school and that’s true of most people I know. The friends I had in junior high didn’t seem to be as available in high school. I played sports and they didn’t. My sophomore year though I was really the bottom of the barrel athletically. I was picked on a lot. One of the worst was a guy who was an ass to me for three years but his bullying was worse in my sophomore year. One day I was leaving the locker room and was confronted by this jackass who was about double my size. He blocked my way and called me a few names shoved me against a wall and all the while Van Halen’s Running With the Devil was playin weg in the weight room. I was rescued that day by a coach and I went home. I was going to throw Van Halen away and put the album on my bed. I felt so alone. Then Tim walked in just to say hello. He saw the album on my bed and started talking about how great the album was, took the album put it on to play and was air guitaring right there. Just hanging out and it meant the absolute world to me. He loved the song Ain’t Talking Bout Love which is still my favorite song on that album.

Tim died way too young. He married my sister and they had two beautiful, amazing kids. He was not the guy my parents would have picked for my sister. I always loved him no matter what he did. Eventually they would divorce and Tim at a young age had a really big stroke. He was disabled for the rest of his life, He loved his kids a lot though and I think he always loved my sister. I did not see him a lot but when I did he would light up with that big smile and he always had something kind to say.  His ashes are buried next to my mom’s. Whenever I go to pay my respects I always say something kind to Tim.

Eddie Van Halen died October 6, 2020.

Mike out

The Music Blog: Magic Power

Long ago before there was any real conception of something called social media teens gathered in places or went to certain places to find out what was happening. Now don’t get me wrong as we spent a lot of time on the telephone with long twisty cords that would ultimately get so tangled and twisted that no amount of work could get them back to normal. Every town no matter the size had that certain place where you went and sat or did some other activity to see what was going on in your tiny world. Whether it was sitting in the drive in or sitting out front of the dairy queen. If you sat there long enough someone would come by and tell you about a party or where everyone was going. Mine was the carwash.

Our lives, my generation, revolved around the car. It didn’t matter if you drove a Maverick, a Z-28 Camaro, Trans Am, beat up pick up truck or any vehicle of the 70’s. You took care of your car, and that meant you went to the car wash. The carwash is where I met nefarious individuals who sold me ground up weeds from time to time. In the great words of Eddie Murphy, I may have fractured a few laws in my youth. Its where I went when I was bored or looking to get away from my dad and sometimes even my mom. You could pop something into the old 8 track and listen while you did your wipe down, applied armor all and windexed your windows. One day while I was there a guy showed up from a rival school. I knew him slightly. He was playing something that seemed familiar. I was sure of the band but could not name the song. He was a rich kid and had a really awesome car although I cannot remember exactly what he drove. We exchanged greetings and I asked what was playing. I had been right about the band but the album was new, really new. So he turned his up, and I turned mine off and we finished our cars listening to Allied Forces. Every time I hear the song Magic Power its like I am in that car wash again.

Next to ZZ Top, Triumph is my absolute favorite trio. Yes I know about Rush but I am not a big Rush fan. At that time Just a Game was an album I played a lot. I loved the vocals and I loved the drums. I still think Gil Moore is one of the most underrated drummers of all time. I cannot figure out why he isn’t considered one of the great drummers.  Triumph really became my band in college as they were one of the few rock bands I still listened to. The album Thunder Seven was a cruising favorite. Just hop in the car and pop that in and turn it up. They are also a band that I have never gotten tired of. I like them as much today as I did back in the day. I can always measure how much I love a band by the memories they stir up. Triumph stirs up many. I picked up a girl cruising on Arlington’s Cooper St. and she wouldn’t get out of my car when we found her friends. So I drove her home and her mother wanted to know who I was, wanted to see my driver’s license and then called the cops on me. The girl, embarrassed, retreated to her room. The cops were super nice and told the lady she should be thankful that someone was nice enough to drive her daughter home. The girl called me the next day and wanted to go out on an official date. Maybe I should have said yes, but her mom was a freak!! Why do I have that memory because she jumped in my car in the first place because I was playing Never Surrender, a pretty good Triumph song and I can remember that moment like it was yesterday. I couldn’t tell you what that girl looked like but I remember her jumping in my car and shouting let’s go, turn it up. I remember that song.

Now you might think that with memories like that maybe I should try some good old fashioned repression or at least have a little less regard for Triumph. That memory is hilarious to me. She called the cops on me for goodness sake. I shared that story and laughed about it a hundred times. I had friends telling me that’s what I got for being so nice but it was funny. Everyone of those guys I was friends with would have done the same thing and some of them would have said yes to the second date.

So if you like Triumph here we go.I have a fair amount of albums to play.

Mike out