Classic Rock and Memory Lane



Foreigner performs at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie on Saturday, May 17, 2014. (Brad Loper/The Dallas Morning News)

This weekend my parents went to see Styx, Foreigner, and Don Felder at the Verizon Center in Dallas.

These three artists were a huge part of my childhood, and I never dislike hearing them. I am pretty sure that the reason I love The Darkness is because of the glam tendencies of Foreigner and Styx, and it stands to reason that my interest in folk music comes not just from my country roots (Mom’s side) but also listening to that tape (maybe it was a CD) of The Eagles Greatest Hits Vol 2 so, so many times as a kid.

I can remember quasi-sleeping in the back seat of our blue 1989 Dodge B250 Ram Van as we drove through Tennessee en route to… somewhere (sometimes it feels like we just drove all over the South) while “Juke Box Hero” rang out loudly and Dad sang along off key. He probably thought I was asleep (I pretended to be) and it was one of those moments you don’t realize is formative until many years later. That trip also included Cold as Ice and Hot Blooded especially loud for driving at midnight.

As for Styx, “Come Sail Away” makes me happy every time I hear it, as well as “Renegade” “Grand Illusion” and “Blue Collar Man.” “Grand Illusion” was especially formative for me in the heady college days because of this line:

America spells competition / join us in our blind ambition
Get yourself a brand new motor car
Someday soon we’ll stop to ponder / what on Earth’s this spell we’re under
We made the grade and still we wonder who the hell we are.”

Kind of prescient for a band that doesn’t always get the credibility it deserves, no?

Just now, my friend just sent me a message: Division Bell is turning 20 years old today. In high school, I didn’t know Pink Floyd outside of “Money” and “Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2,” but when I would go to Hastings, the Pink Floyd CDs must have been organized close to some other bands I was looking at (P.O.D.? Pennywise?), because I remember seeing the Division Bell cover so many times and thinking “That is interesting, I wonder what that music sounds like.” But at the time it seemed like “old guy” music ala Sting or Peter Frampton or something, so I never pursued it. Plus, the CD was like $17.99 new and I was more into the used $4.99 bin.

Later, in college, when I had the fortune to meet a dude who had every Pink Floyd album, we ended up rooming together and my classic rock education really began. For my wedding, he transferred every music file of his to me – over 10,000 songs, including the full catalogs of Zeppelin, Floyd, the Who, Hendrix, and the Beatles. That was quite a gift. In that first year of marriage, I never fell in love with Division Bell like I did with Animals, Mettle, DSOTM, and Wish You Were Here, but 20 years on from such a big record is still a big deal. Back when I was shopping at Hastings as a 16 year old, that record was only 7 or 8 years old. It makes me wonder what major, iconic record from this year I’ll be writing about in 20 years. The first one that comes to mind is Jack White. Your thoughts?


One thought on “Classic Rock and Memory Lane

  1. KHM says:

    I really really dig the message behind Grand Illusion. Something I’ve felt for years and am almost ashamed that I never took this song seriously enough to pay attention to the lyrics. The American ideal should just be whatever you feel!

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