Being a loner growing up, I found comfort with music. Pre-MTV, the radio and music magazines became my resources to discover the artists I needed to hear and then purchase their albums in my local record stores. Soon my friends would bring their music collections to school, where they would play their favorite bands during recess and we would share in the discovery of everyone’s unique tastes.
In 1985 I wanted to go to my first rock concert. My favorite band Iron Maiden was playing at an arena 30 minutes from where I lived, and my parents agreed to take me and a couple of friends to the show. They were there to see Twisted Sister (during the “We’re Not Gonna Take It” heydays), while I was there to scream my head off to Iron Maiden. After the show, my two friends went out and bought the complete Iron Maiden catalog, and even though I had buzzing in my ears the next day I knew then and there that I would never have to worry about succumbing to any other vice but music when I needed that energy rush.
My parents made a deal early on. As long as my grades in school stayed above average and I could afford to pay for the tickets, they would provide transportation to and from the shows for me and my friends to attend the concerts of my choice. While holding down straight A’s in junior high and high school, I probably went to about 15 shows a year.
24 years later, I still love the thrill of the show or a new album hitting the stores. I enjoy the community of meeting fans of the bands I’m into, and discovering their outside passions, hobbies, careers and interests. I have lifelong goals to attend some of the best festivals in other parts of the world.
My wife and children don’t share my same music addiction, but I am supportive of their own music interests. I think my open-mindedness to music at a young age (I deejayed dances as a teenager, building a business that would go for 20 years and play a mixture of weddings, anniversaries and corporate outings) aids my understand of their tastes. We have discussions about what they like and dislike in music- making sure they understand the subject matter in the lyrics of some of their favorite songs.
What I hate hearing the most when it comes to my love of music is a segment of the population that believes heavy music can only be enjoyed in your youth. That you reach a certain stage of life where you have to abandon your favorite artists and ‘grow up’ so to speak, conforming to what other people believe you should listen to. Because I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, does that mean I can no longer watch The Cosby Show or The Breakfast Club due to my adult status? If I get the same emotional need met in my 30’s and my music isn’t damaging the people I love, what difference does it make to you if I enjoy the new Candlemass album as I’m cruising the highway or at my laptop?
I continue to learn and grow through music. I enjoy and respect the creativity, the process, the hard work that goes from picking up an instrument to mastering it. The team chemistry necessary to pull together a band, go into a studio and record your songs to bear your soul to a critical public. And there’s nothing like the roar of the amps and the pounding of the drums plus the back and forth energy exchange at a live show. As a result, you’ll probably still see me at shows into my 60’s and 70’s, even if I have a cane at my side and a hearing aid in my ear.
That’s why I don’t need drugs- I just need music.
I’d love to hear your stories of music and the feelings that come about to help you live your life for the better.