The Past Isn’t Always Haunting

When I was a little kid (from 5-10 years old), I remember driving to Mississippi and listening to this tape of an old country-western artist. My dad said he used to listen to his records when he was a kid. I didn’t know any difference, so I figured this guy was pretty famous and probably popular. Not really. He was back in the day in certain circles, but certainly not in the 1980s. Nonetheless, that was my introduction to Johnny Horton. My favorite songs of his were The Battle Of New Orleans and Sink The Bismark.

As I got into my teenage years, of course grunge rock had gone from underground to popular and I jumped on the bandwagon. It’s ironically making another pop comeback. I had a conversation last night with a guy who couldn’t stop singing the praises of Kurt Cobain. There was a period not too long ago when Cobain couldn’t get any airplay and Nirvana wasn’t something people bragged about listening to. That’s all changed. I heard some preteen kids last night talking about how Nirvana was the greatest rock band of all time. Wow, and that’s what I listened to when I was their age and it was current. What a trip.

Grunge led to alternative rock, at least in my evolution of music I followed, played, jammed to, and mimicked. That led to punk rock (both underground and pop) and ska and a little metal (sorry mom and dad, yes I did listen to that and loved it). I got to college, grew my hair out and wore the baggiest pants to accompany the chains and other punk rock clothing necessities to show I was real. All the while, I started working at a public radio station and scaring the crap out of my boss and staff. The station played maybe 4 songs that I didn’t absolutely abhor, along with classical music that I knew nothing about.

Over time, my musical preferences started to calm down a bit. I started really liking folk and folk rock. James Taylor wasn’t some old dude that my parents liked. I still followed Pearl Jam (and they will always be one of my all-time favorites). But I was listening to more contemporary people, discovering the sounds of Carla Werner, Ben Harper, and Diana Krall to name a few. I kept the long hair but toned down the attire, wearing stuff that actually fit a bit more, and gave up the chains. As I got to my senior year of college, I discovered a new style of music that was called screamo. At first I was turned off to it, until I checked out the bands’ lyrics. Wow, it was deep stuff. I started really getting into Blindside, Emery, and Underoathe to name a few. My wife was digging it to (this was before we were married, but we did play Blindside’s “About A Burning Fire” at our wedding, which was super awesome!). At the same time, I’m jamming to folk rock and starting to listen to more softer stuff. What a mix.

Fast-forward 5 years and I’m full circle again. At any point I could put in old Green Day, No Motiv or NOFX and rock out. I could headbang to Nirvana and good Metallica (pre Re-Load days). Pearl Jam and Mexico’s Mana are good anytime. Blindside still has a special place on my playlist. But I can also do stuff like Iron & Wine, The Rocketboys, Elliott Park, Ray LaMontagne, and more. And believe it or not, I’m still jamming to Johnny Horton’s Sink The Bismark, which I’ll feature at the tail end of this weekend’s conclusion to the Seafood series on The Appetizer. So the past and what I used to be down with as a wee lad has come back, and you know, it’s not too bad. I actually like it a good bit. Funny how that is.

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Host of the syndicated radio program The Appetizer heard on public radio across Texas and online from our Listen Now link; enjoys conversations, music, food, art, storytelling, and people. Connect with me. Would love to hear from you.

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