The great Keith Law is known for his baseball expertise, but he’s never shy about offering his take on other things ... music and food and board games are among them, plus he has written powerfully about anxiety disorders. He has regular online chats on the ESPN website, where he is asked mostly about baseball prospects. But he always tosses in a few “off-topic” questions, and this week, one person asked, “I was wondering if there is an identifiable point in your past where your taste in music was most impacted - was there an album, artist, song, that changed how you hear and appreciate music?” His answer was, “Mother Love Bone's Apple. Metallica's ... And Justice for All. Doves' The Last Broadcast. Alt-J's An Awesome Dream. Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” None of those would make my list, with the possible exception of PE, but it’s an interesting list, and it leads to this week’s Music Friday: things that changed how I hear/appreciate music.
The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I remember quite a bit about popular music before that famous date (at which point, I was 10 years old). I have memories of once asking for an Elvis 45 when I had to get an injection at the doctor’s office, and since I had a brother six years my senior who had a record player, I heard a lot via his collection. But The Beatles on Ed Sullivan was different. I professed to indifference, and watched on the sly from the kitchen, afterwards assuring my parents that I didn’t get The Beatles. But the truth is, I was enthralled, full of emotions bigger than myself.
KMPX and freeform “underground” FM radio.
I bought Born to Run on its release in 1975. I wasn't yet the Bruce fanatic I would soon become ... on the other hand, we already had tickets for his concert, which was still two months away. We took the album to our friend’s house down the street, opened it, and put on Side Two, for no other reason than the title track was on that one. After the last strains of “Jungleland” faded away, our friend said, “You are going to see a great concert.”
I went into a record store across town, and as I was browsing, a song came on that gripped me with its unadorned power. When it ended, I asked the guy behind the counter who it was. “The Sex Pistols!”
Prince, 1981. It’s always nice to say you were there before anyone else. At least, I assume so ... I’ve never been first. The closest I came was in 1981, when we saw Prince in a small club during the Dirty Mind tour.
Dig Me Out. I liked Call the Doctor, but Sleater-Kinney became The Band for Me only after Janet joined Corin and Carrie. The album came out in 1997, and we saw them for the first of fourteen-and-counting times the next year, just after “One More Hour” had been released as a single.