I’ve always loved listening to music for as far back as I can remember. My record collection today is a diverse conglomeration of rock, country, classical, jazz, new age, broadway, Christmas and contemporary folk music.
Some of my friends have said that my musical tastes are so broad that I really have no taste at all. Maybe so. But I can usually find some examples of music that I like in nearly every musical genre.
While there are some exceptions, I generally tend not to like opera, heavy metal, punk and rap music. I also have as yet to get terribly interested in blues music, although I acknowledge its influence on music that I do like.
Purely for my own edification, I have put together a mostly chronilogical list of the music that I have heard, absorbed and in many cases purchased throughout my life to chart how my musical tastes have developed over time.
My parents were naturally the earliest influences on my musical tastes. They gave me a portable record player when I was in about the second grade and passed down a few record albums:
Records passed down from my parents:
Elvis : A Legendary Performer Vol. 1
Glenn Campbell - By the Time I Get To Phoenix
Bobby Goldsboro - Autumn of My Life
The most significant of these was Elvis. The first song on the album is “That’s Alright Momma,” which is still to this day my all-time favorite Elvis song. When I was in the second grade, a kid at school asked everyone who their favorite singer was. For some reason - probably because I had just watched his variety show on TV the night before - I said my favorite was Donny Osmond. To my embarrassment that illicited laughter from my friends, so I quickly changed my mind and announced that my favorite singer was Elvis Presley. I was relieved when that seemed to be a satisfactory answer.
The Glenn Campbell album was good too, but a lot of the songs were depressing - especially the title track - and there were just a few upbeat numbers that I liked including “Hey, Little One” “Back in the Race” and “I’ll Be Lucky Someday”. But Glen Campbell came across as almost blissfully happy compared to the miserably depressing Bobby Goldsboro album which I hated. I think I may have listened to it once. Yuck! I guess you can’t say I didn’t have any taste back then.
Aside from those few albums, I was influenced by stuff I heard on the radio and more predominantly by the Saturday morning cartoon shows and the Variety shows that were on at the time. There was Donny and Marie Osmond, The Jackson Five, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Sonny and Cher and The Monkees.
A song I heard on the radio that stuck with me:
Spinning Wheel - Blood, Sweat & Tears
I was in college before I finally figured out who sang that song that had bounced around inside my head from my early childhood.
A few years later, when I was old enough to play with my dad’s reel to reel player, I discovered the music he had purchased or recorded when he was in Vietnam. I now have most of this music on CD.
From my Dad’s reel-to-reel collection:
Kingston Trio (miscellaneous)
Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
Buddy Holly (miscellaneous)
Peter, Paul & Mary (miscellaneous)
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (miscellaneous)
Zounds! What Sounds! - Dean Elliott and his Big Band
Ray Conniff Singers - We Wish You a Merry Christmas (Still my favorite Christmas album!)
I especially liked the humorous Kingston Trio songs such as “MTA”, “Bad Man’s Blunder” and “Merry Minuet”
The first record album I remember purchasing (well, my folks paid for it but I picked it out on my own) was a weird psychedelic rock album called Raiders - Collage
which featured Mark Lindsey and Paul Revere (They would later become known as Paul Revere and The Raiders). One day my mom told me I could pick out a record album and I picked that one out almost at random. It had lots of fuzzy, distorted guitars, screaming lyrics and songs that in retrospect were kind of mediocre. But it was my album and I listened to it repeatedly.
Unfortunately, at some point I dropped the record and broke a 1-inch piece off that messed up the first songs on both sides - which also happened to be my favorite songs on the album.
The next album I got had an even bigger influence. It was a compilation of hit songs from 1974 (slightly abriged) by Ronco:
Ronco Presents: In Concert - Various Artists 1974
1. Rock the Boat--THE HUES CORPORATION
2. I'm Leaving It All Up To You--DONNY & MARIE OSMOND
3. Put Your Hands Together--THE O'JAYS
4. Takin' Care of Business--BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE
5. The Need To Be--JIM WEATHERLY
6. Come and Get Your Love--REDBONE
7. La La Peace Song--O.C. SMITH
8. Soledad--ERIC BURDON & JIMMY WITHERSPOON
9. The Streak--RAY STEVENS
10. Sweet Home Alabama--LYNYRD SKYNYRD
11. You Little Trustmaker--THE TYMES
12. Hang On In There Baby--JOHNNY BRISTOL
13. Wildwood Weed--JIM STAFFORD
14. Radar Love--GOLDEN EARRING
15. I'm the Leader of the Gang--BROWNSVILLE STATION
16. The Other Side of Love--JIMMY WITHERSPOON
17. I'll Take You There--THE STAPLE SINGERS
18. In the Ghetto--MAC DAVIS
19. The Night Chicago Died--PAPER LACE
20. Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)--REUNION
My favorite songs on the album was “The Night Chicago Died”
by Paper Lace. I especially liked the fact that the father came home safe at the end of the song. It probably had something to do with the fact that my own father kept getting shipped over seas during the Vietnam war.
I also liked “Life is a Rock”
which was a kind of novelty song where the singer strings the names of a bunch of rock groups and song lyrics together very fast.
The one real stinker in the collection is “The Need To Be” by Jim Weatherly which I’m sure is unlistenable in its long version.
Actually, whenever I hear any of these songs today in their long version I’m taken aback (with the exception of “Sweet Home Alabama” which I am now used to.)
Interestingly enough, although I came to dearly love almost every song in the collection - the only artists I would continue to listen to years later would be Bachman, Turner Overdrive and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
A few years later I picked up another hits collection, this one by K-Tel.
KTel - Stars 1977
The Things We Do For Love - 10CC
Rich Girl - Daryl Hall & John Oates
Year Of The Cat - Al Stewart
Torn Between Two Lovers - Mary MacGregor
A Little Bit More - Dr. Hook
Love Me - Yvonne Elliman
So In To You - Atlanta Rhythm Section
Devil Woman - Cliff Richard
Slow Dancin' Don't Turn Me On - Addrisi Brothers
I'm Your Boogie Man - K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel - Tavares
Don't Leave Me This Way - Thelma Houston
Coal Town - Stanky Brown Group
The World Is Ghetto - War
Theme From Roots - Quincy Jones
Hard Luck Woman - KISS
Tryin' To Love Two - William Bell
Couldn't Get It Right - Climax Blues Band
My favorite song in that collection was “I’m Your Boogie Man” which has a terrific horn section. I also liked “The Things We Do For Love,” “Rich Girl,” “Devil Woman” and “Year of the Cat.”
Junior High Years
In junior high I used to hear lots of music on the bus drive to and from school everyday. The bus driver would always have a local rock station on the dial.
Songs on the radio:
Queen - We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions (A dangerous song to listen to on the bus since everyone would stomp in unison).
Heart - Barracuda
Wild Cherry - Play That Funky Music
Rolling Stones - Beast of Burden
Elton John - Philadelphia Freedom
Bay City Rollers - Saturday Night
Lukenbach, Texas - Willie and Waylon
This is also when I started purchasing albums more frequently.
Elvis Presley - Elvis’ Golden Records
KISS - Double Platinum
The Who - Who Are You
Boston - Don’t Look Back
Three Dog Night (mail order greatest hits collection)
Fats Domino greatest hits
Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack
The Bee Gees - Spirits Having Flown
The Village People - YMCA
Steve Martin - Wild and Crazy Guy
I liked the Sgt. Peppers movie so much I couldn’t wait to run out and buy the soundtrack album.
I didn’t even know who The Beatles were at the time. Years later I was both shocked and impressed to discover that every song in the movie was originally written and performed by The Beatles.
Most of the album featured the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, but there were also contributions from Aerosmith, Earth Wind & Fire, Alice Cooper and (my favorite) Steve Martin.
I bought the KISS album mainly because it was popular with my friends. My friend Tommy told me that even if I didn’t like anything else by KISS, I was sure to like the song “Beth.” He was right. But I also liked most of the other songs too.
Boston’s “Don’t Look Back” was a radio staple at the time and the main reason I purchased the album. It would be years later, however, before I would finally get the first Boston album which is even better.
Believe it or not, “Who Are You” by The Who was another random album purchase that I made. Not bad for my second try.
I bought “Spirits Having Flown” after being blown away the first time I heard the song “Tragedy.” Plus, I was still a Bee Gees fan because of the Sgt. Pepper’s movie. (I did not see “Saturday Night Fever” until year’s later. For me, John Travolta was always a Sweathog.)