For my last article of the year, I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the songs from my yesteryear that really hit me hard and had an impact on my musical taste. If you haven’t heard some of them, give them a listen and you just might find your next favorite genre or band.
When I was first learning to play guitar, I went through a big blues phase as many guitarists do when first learning to play. I still love the blues, and I have Stevie Ray Vaughan to thank for that. When I was 8 or 9, my godfather gave me a Stevie Ray Vaughan greatest hits CD for Christmas. Immediately, songs like “Texas Flood” struck me, especially the guitar playing. It is decently basic as far as the notes go, but the soul that went into the music is what impresses me. I am always impressed with his brutal playing style. He attacks the guitar more than plays it. I’ve attached a live version of the song since SRV is consistently better in live performances than on his studio albums.
Rush was my first favorite band and also the first concert that I actually wanted to go to myself. Since 8th grade, Rush has been a constant in my music library, and the “2112” suite started it all. I had heard some of Rush’s songs on the radio before, but once I heard all ~20 minutes of its wonderful glory, there was no turning back. Rush is said to have one of the most dedicated fan bases in all of rock music, and I’m happy to say that I am definitely a member of that cult-ish fan base. Rush was also the gateway for my soon-to-be love of progressive rock music.
It’s probably safe to say that I wouldn’t be a huge jazz fan if it weren’t for a few key musicians, namely Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Dave Brubeck. Of those three, I first heard Miles Davis when I was recommended his odd, electric album Bitches’ Brew. “Spanish Key” really got me into the album since it almost felt like a rock song. At the time, I was really into progressive rock, so hearing something similar really turned me onto the whole jazz genre. If you don’t like jazz, at least give this album a try.
4) King Crimson – “21st Century Schizoid Man”
Another song, like “2112”, that really got me into progressive rock and jazz rock was this jazzy song off of King Crimson’s debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King. I actually heard this song for the first time when I was in the hospital. My nurse recommended that I check out King Crimson, so this was the first thing that came up. I instantly fell in love with the sheer complexity and songwriting ability displayed by the band. Certainly, King Crimson are one of the most unique bands out there, always daring to be original. Their debut album sent me into an obsession over them and other prog rock bands similar to them.
Porcupine Tree is responsible for helping me to love two separate genres: metal and electronic music. I chose “The Sky Moves Sideways” as my most influential Porcupine Tree song since it contains but elements of metal and elements of electronic. Off of one of PTree’s earlier works, The Sky Moves Sideways, the album is mainly performed by Steven Wilson with many of the instruments programmed or played by Wilson. After this album, the “band” became more of a real group rather than just a solo act under a pseudonym. Porcupine Tree formed a pathway to loving krautrock, such as Can and Kraftwerk, and metal, such as Opeth, Tool, and and Neurosis. If you haven’t heard of them, check out either The Sky Moves Sideways or Fear of a Blank Planet (for the more metal-oriented).