Happy Birthday Mom and Dad
Today was my parents’ birthday. Yes, they both have the same birthday. So as I was busy writing the traditional birthday post on their Facebook walls this morning, I started thinking about how my parents shaped not only my life (duh), but how they’ve made me so much of who and what I am (a die-hard music lover and artist). I began to really take a moment to remember just how my parents each played a role in my growth not simply as their son, but as someone who is (more or less) forever tied to the world of music. And the more I thought—the more I remembered—the more I really began to see just how much of an impact they had on me in that arena as well. In fact, it’s an impact they continue to have every day.
I suppose my induction into the world of music took place in my youth, but it really geared up around the time I was 10. That’s when my real education began. It was because of my parents—what they introduced me too was lightyears ahead of most any and everything my peers had in their CD players (yes, we still used those back then). It began, then ramped up—and then I never looked back.
My Dad gave me what I will always refer to as my first Big Five: The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, The Doors, and Cream. Some people hear The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” and think of CSI: NY; I just think of my Dad. From there, it was just a hop and a skip to Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and Jethro Tull. I vividly remember hearing Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” for the very first time; I’d dozed off on the couch when he popped the CD in the player. I heard that Jack Bruce bassline, sat straight up, and said “what is THAT?!”
From Mom I got more of a taste from the ’70s; Led Zeppelin, Queen, Fleetwood Mac…and metal. I actually wouldn’t discover until more than a decade later just how into metal my mom actually was. KISS and Def Leppard were favorites, so I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me when she asked if I’d go see them in concert with her last summer. And so we did.
“Mom, I’m Gonna Start a Band”
My parents took me to my first concert. And not a Backstreet Boys show either. My parents took some friends and me to The Masquerade in downtown Atlanta (google it, it’s still around and still a popular venue). We saw Bowling for Soup. Don’t laugh; they rocked and kicked ass. In fact, I’ve gone on to see them almost 10 times since then, and more than once my Mom has gone with me.
I’m not sure many parents would even drive their kids down to Masquerade, let alone take their kids to a show there. It’s not exactly PG; Masquerade is a real venue, complete with people full of tattoos, piercings, sweaty, jumping, and rocking out.
Around this time—my 13th birthday—I got a knockoff Fender guitar starter pack. Pretty much the next sentence out of my mouth one morning was, “Mom, I’m gonna start a band.” And I did. My buddy got the same starter set, and we set out to conquer the world. I loved that guitar; I still do. It reminds me of my roots.
New and Different Tastes
My parents are such lovers of music that it was just as valid to them to hear me say I wanted to be a rockstar as saying I might want to be a doctor or lawyer. It was natural, and I believe that because their love of music extended well beyond what they were familiar with, they could understand my obsession with something that spoke so deeply to me.
While other parents continued to find comfort in their Zeppelin and Beatles albums, my parents took a trip with me through my teen-year discoveries; Simple Plan, Sum 41, Yellowcard, My Chemical Romance, and Eve 6 were just as valid and exciting to them as Fleetwood Mac or The Who. In fact, I saw Eve 6 with my Dad just a couple summers ago on their 2013 U.S. tour.
I’m not sure how many other people out there were (are) lucky enough to experience these same dynamics, but I can’t imagine too many. Most probably experienced the brush-off that so many people get. But I was lucky enough to escape that. My parents share my love of music and discovery, and that drives me every day.
Days As a Journalist and DJ
When my rockstar career ended (yes, pause for dramatic effect), I decided my next adventure would be as a music journalist. Actually, I completely fell into music journalism, but that’s a story for another day. And even as I was starting to find my way in that cutthroat industry, guess who was beside me, editing my pieces to make them tighter and better? That’s right, the parents.
And when the journalism turned to DJ-work, there was a desire to push my drive yet again. I’ll never forget the first time I was on the air on my college show in Boston, doing my broadcast with my parents streaming from home in Atlanta. They listened to the whole thing (2 hours worth), and when he called me after, I believe my Dad’s words were, “man that was so fucking cool.”
I took my Mom out last summer to a little indie show to see a band I’m good friends with. The band, mind you, is a little on the screamo side; not exactly what most people my parents’ age would be interested in listening to. But during the course of the show, what really stuck out to me was when my Mom noted, “wow, they are incredible performers.” That level of appreciation for something so far removed from her own tastes is something that I think makes my Mom so special. Many times, it’s my parents who are the first to hear the new artists I find and give me feedback. They really haven’t steered me wrong yet.
And now, as I’ve changed my path yet again, it’s paved and bridged by a mutual respect and insatiable love of music. Many parents wouldn’t understand their kid when they hear the words, “I think I want to be a music entrepreneur.” What does that even mean?! I’m still not totally sure, though I’m figuring it out every day. What I am sure of is that my parents are behind me yet again. They continue to help me navigate, all the while partaking in the amazing music scenes that I’ve become privy to.
So as I sit here on their birthday night, I think about how I’m thankful not only for a good relationship in general, but for a shared love of something that is and has become so important to me. Music is freedom and in it lives a certain amount of respect and love; it’s that respect and love that exacerbates the excitement of sharing new music with one another. It’s what draws us together and creates the paradigm we live in. So when I listen to Cream or The Who, I think of my Dad. And when it’s KISS or Def Leppard on the radio, I think of my Mom. Even when it’s Bowling for Soup I can’t help but think of my first concert with my parents. And I can’t look back at anything I’ve done in this business without thinking of them collectively.
I think that’s a good thing.