I have a friend that I work with ( @Scott Proctor) who did this 30 day music challenge thing here on FB. For 30 Days there is a question that you have to answer with a song that made you feel that way or what you listened to when you were feeling a certain way etc… it was very interesting and the questions made me think how I would answer them… well depending on the weather, the time of day the curvature of the earth I thought on such and such a day I would choose this song but if the wind was from the south east, I would choose this song.. so I didn’t do the challenge because music was such a huge part of my life. My entire childhood was full of music, I won awards and honors for musical stuff.. I was offered a scholarship to a NCAA School for Music.. when I did actually go to college my Major was Music… I had the music dream stolen from me by some people, but there is no one to blame but myself… but that’s a story for another time…… so back to the music challenge thing… so I thought about it some and while I have my all-time favorite bands and music, my tastes are as varied as can be. I won a radio contest once for having the most eclectic variation of music in my truck… I still remember that day my son @Easton Cunningham was 3 years old and I was driving him to day care before I went to work. I drove a big old lifted GMC half ton truck…the best thing about it I had a CD player, the radio and a tape deck! I won the contest because I had Barry Manilow in the tape deck, Metallica in the CD player and my Son singing “Oh my darling Clementine” in the seat next to me.. they put him on the air singing that song and I won a tee-shirt and a CD …my 5 minutes of fame(Ok it was really his fame, but he can’t remember that so I get to!!) anyway my tastes are strange for sure, I love musicals and metal, Oldies and Country… you name it and I like something about it… as I was thinking about some of the challenge questions I kept going back to this one theme which seemed odd to me since this wasn’t my favorite band or singer or genre… but it kept coming up so I thought I’d write a little about it. It’s also the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 which is very painful for our Nation and the music I’m listening to this week is “east coast” to honor in my own private world, the people who perished, and the survivors..eveyone who lost something that day, All of America.. so this a personal journey for me but it’s also one way for me to pay tribute and homage to the People of the Northeast and to our Country… but it’s a long journey through my childhood as well so maybe a way fro me to vent and explain and deal with the events of that day..who knows.. it’s “Stuff” and I need to write it down… I honestly don’t expect anyone to read it, it’s for me , but I’m posting it in case it can influence someone else, or turn someone on to music they may not have chosen to listen to before.. or to help someone heal…that someone being me..heart on the sleeve time..
I go through musical “phases”, I suspect that most everyone does. My current “Phase” is Boss…no not the way the young un’s today use Boss, but THE Boss… Bruce Springsteen, for anyone under about 40: Elvis was the King, Bruce is the Boss. I don’t claim to be a Boss connoisseur per se. I can’t tell you the names of all his albums. I can’t even name a lot of his songs or a single one after about ’85. I can tell you that I love the music that he and the E-Street band put out between 1975 and 1985. I was oblivious to him though until 1984 when a little album came out called Born in the U.S.A…. even when the album came out I didn’t really know about it. So let’s go back a little bit here… as a teenager I was obsessed with the Vietnam War, I had book after book, maps on walls watched every movie related to the War that I could.. as dumb as I know it was to do, I imagined, even hoped that I could have been there… that was probably a result of the glamorized books and movies that I consumed but it was my reality as a teen…the world had been at “peace” for too long in my teenage angsty, rebellious opinion….and please don’t comment on how dumb that was I get it now.. been to war so I get it. That’s not what this is about… fast-forward… July 10th 1984 World Premiere video… this super hot, short dark haired, blue eyed beauty in a tee-shirt and blue jeans gets pulled up on stage to do the “Carlton” (Fresh Prince) dance with this rock dude… well I had to know more! I probably ran out the next day and bought the record, I remember the cover was super awesome, it had the Flag on it.. and anyone who puts the US Flag on an album was ok with me, I mean it was just like the opening scene in “Patton” except instead of George C. Scott standing there it was some guy’s backside…. It was the first time that someone actually mentioned Vietnam in a song in my generation and it was the title track. A song from my generation, I could “own it ” and not someone who was there or someone who was of that generation…it’s was a song for me! He talked about Vietnam and how the soldiers coming home got treated like shit, holy moly this guy gets it, he’s a patriot and a rebel all in one just like I want to be… So I played that record until the grooves wore out and I know for a fact that I also burned though at least 3 copies of the cassette tape… I knew every note, every grunt and pop the sax riffs the innuendos and the drama that was Born in the U.S.A. In retrospect I see now, 27 years later how it formed my “style” and helped to create who I am today… I know it sounds crazy but bear with me. I was hooked and being molded without even knowing it..
The album in general gave me my own style(s). I’ve often wondered where it came from and it’s not until now that I realize a lot of it had to do with this album. It was about jeans and work boots (I chose cowboy boots), bandana’s and tee-shirts, about working hard and playing hard, about treating Vet’s with respect and having honor, swearing vows in blood and keeping to that promise no matter what, about love gained and lost, about growing up and becoming a man, responsibility and courage…..Here is a list of the songs on that album and how they made me feel or how they may have helped mold me into who I am today:
Side one – Rockin’!! My favorite side of the album.. when I wanted to “jam”
“Born in the U.S.A.” – This song legitimized how I felt about Vietnam Era Vets and the short straw they got and the respect they deserved.
“Cover Me” – This song was about the search for love and someone that would have my back.. I had a rough love life as a teen … bad breakups and unrequited loves… in other words a normal teen life but I didn’t know that then, this song helped me with that.
“Darlington County” – oooh baby my style! Kinda Country but really rocking bluesy fun and boy was it funny! This song is about 2 buddies (perhaps @Daron Frederick and I in the early 90’s) paintin’ the town red but his buddy gets caught doing something he shouldn’t have…well the song ends a little differently that it would in my world but it’s what makes the song so funny… the main character in the song hasn’t seen his buddy in a week so he finally heads home and as he’s driving outta town there’s his buddy handcuffed to the bumper of a State Troopers Ford! Anyone who knew me as a teen… yeah I was Wayne in that song ….(the one who got caught)
“Working on the Highway” – well after you get caught… this is what happens.. I did my community service as a teen but listening to this song now is a lot different than it was then… back then I thought it was about working hard and playing hard and getting caught… well now I get it ..and I’m glad I didn’t get it back then… the song is about a kid who is 18 running away with a girl who is under 18… in love but her family doesn’t approve and the bust the guy for Statutory Rape and he get’s hard time … yikes!
“Downbound Train” – this song moved me then as it does today. It’s about lost or unrequited love…. You can feel the pain: “I rushed through the yard, I burst through the front door, My head pounding hard, up the stairs I climbed The room was dark, our bed was empty, Then I heard that long whistle whine…., And I dropped to my knees, hung my head and cried..” I’d felt that way as a teenager.. but I didn’t cry, was it ok to cry as a guy?? Well hell yeah if the Boss is crying… so I think that was a turning point for me to allow my emotions to show and helped to make me a more sensitive person.. that may be a stretch but I need to believe that I have a reason for why I cry more than any men I know.
“I’m on Fire” – This song was all about the passion and the love that you couldn’t have that hurt so much..
Side two – Sentimentally my favorite side
“No Surrender” – As a teen this song was all about rebellion and knowing everything there was to know about everything! Now as an adult it means so much more to me it is all about friends and relationships “Best friend” type relationships, brotherhood and promises that you want to keep but can’t because the person you promised is no longer here on earth. It speaks to my heart both young and old the me then and the me now. The me then I think of how I failed one of my friends Amy Zimmerman, she took her own life and to this day I miss her, I can still see her smile and remember just hangin out , playing golf or whatever. We didn’t understand back then the signs of Suicide and maybe that’s why I feel so strongly about helping people today to make up for letting her down back then…..today I think about my relationship with @ Daron Johnson and how we are brothers in many ways, brothers in the Fire Department and just “Bud” brothers.. we kinda have an unspoken “vow” to each other to always be honest and real, non judgmental and supportive…and chill.
“Bobby Jean” -Oh snap… Bobby Jean… Another song that has mixed stuff for me… sometimes it’s just a song about that girl that got away, and other times it’s back to the whole Amy thing… we never were romantic in any way, we were just friends but she left without saying goodbye….well if she could see me now, I think she’d be proud, at least I like to think that..
“I’m Goin’ Down” – this song was probably the most skipped on the album as a kid because it didn’t have much meaning for me, it was a good song but I didn’t really relate.. as an adult whoa boy….. I’m not even gonna get into it, if you know the song and you know me you get it…..if you don’t well move a long son, move along….
“Glory Days” – HA! Similar to Goin’ down, Glory days back then was just a fun song to think about “old dude” hanging out and talking about what I was living then.. well now I am that “old dude” and maybe even this “note” is me “singing” this song in writing. I think about my Son living his Glory days now and me trying to do all I can to make sure they are as glorious for him as they can be so that when he is my age he may look back and have more glory then I did.. that’s what every parent wants for their children.
“Dancing in the Dark” – The reason I bought the album, I can honestly say I can sing every line of this song, but have never, to this day, really paid any attention to the lyrics. Which is weird for me because I’m all about “ a song needs to tell a story” for me to really love it, that story can be with just the music, like a symphony or the blues.. you can get a story without any words ( at least I can, maybe I’m weird??) or lyrically tell a story… this one though my mind just goes to the end of the video and the as yet undiscovered Courtney Cox getting pulled onstage to do that dance with The Boss… the dance was lame and in retrospect the video was really pretty lame too , but it worked on my teenage mind.
“My Hometown” – This one was interesting for me, as a kid it made me think about the generation I thought I should have been from, the 60’s civil rights and Vietnam, about growing up and my Dad and Grandfathers a kinda feel good song. Today and since my son was born in 1995 I think about him and our relationship and the things I want to share with him, I literally thought about this song when choosing the area that we live (Rural Southeast King County, WA) how I felt it had that small town feel that I grew up with and didn’t like much as a kid, but appreciate as an adult.. good schools, teaching him to drive sharing a hobby like Rocketry and Archery and hopefully passing on to him the small town values.
in 1986, I think it was Christmas, I got one of the best gifts (little did I know it at the time) , I got the Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live 1975-1985 3 Tape box set…. I chewed through that too, the music made me “feel”, It made me want to move, some of it made me want to fight, some made me want to laugh and cry, some made me want to be bad, it made me even more patriotic… it had everything! Though at the time I didn’t get all the speeches he made in it , and if I knew then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have loved it the same way I do today.
I won’t go thorugh it song by song like U.S.A. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a few of them, remember this was a 3 tape set! With a book and everything, even “8×10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one” (Arlo Guthrie, Alice’s restaurant reference for you oldies…I loved that 18 +minute long song, but didn’t know it was a protest song until too late)….
So a few of the songs and what they meant/mean to me or make me feel or remember:
“Thunder Road” – This song title got me.. I was so ready for a rocking “thundering” song… but it was a misnomer… a great song but every time I hear it I still wait for the kickin’ riff and beat to start up.
“Growin’ Up” – SO the Boss starts this song and gets about ¾ of the way through then he stops for a story about his Dad ( who is in the audience with his mom and sister), this song makes me think about the rocky relationship I had with my own father “growin’ up” and how I had it all planned out, and so did he and those plans didn’t have much crossover.. I look back and I hope that he is happy and proud even if I took the hard way. Today we have a great relationship, though we rarely see each other, once every few years or so we talk often and he’s where I go for advice. I Love you Dad.
“Hungry Heart” – The only reason I include this song here is because on the album, I just think it’s so cool how he lets the audience alone sing the entire 1st verse. As a youth I dreamed that would be me, up on a stage somewhere with an audience singing my song back to me.
“Independence Day” – Long before Martina McBride sand her haunting “Independence Day” there was this one. The song (to me) is about gaining your independence from parental oppression, and I probably didn’t really have much of that but I think all kids think they do…so a good rebellious song to “stick it to the man” on the day you turn 18 (or in my case 17 or younger)
“Because the Night” – I mention this one because much like “Blinded by the light” Bruce wrote this (and Blinded) but other artist (Patti Smith and Manfred Mann) made the songs popular, but I actually enjoy the versions by The Boss better
“This Land Is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie) – This song was special to me , because I remember hearing and singing it as a kid, and then passing that down to my son, we had a book from Gramma @Valerie Neagle and I would read/sing it to him every night for a year or more it seemed. I think maybe some of that made him understand some of how big, beautiful and great our Country is , but also some of the struggles we’ve faced as a Nation. The Boss explains on the album that this song, was written by Woodie Guthrie as a response song to Irving Berlin’s God Bless America. It too was a protest song but I had no idea…
“Nebraska” – WOW…. If any of you have heard this song, you know what I mean right? It’s a true story about guy named Charlie Strarkweather, Martin Sheen played him in the movie in 1974 Badlands.. Hmm Apocalype Now, Badlands Martin Sheen Bruce, Me.. hmm I see a pattern in where my tastes come from for acting and music..
“Seeds” – This song didn’t have that much meaning for me other then , Dude after this song is my favorite song … I had this little mantra that I still find myself using today, I used it out to sea and through other weird points in my life to pass time , or to comfort myself in times of strife…. My mantra was “ seeds, the river, war, seeds the river war…. Over and over… I have a different one that I got in EMT school to help me on tough fire calls, but I still find myself going back to that one from time to time…
“The River” –a soft melody start this off, then Bruce goes into a 5 minute story about him growing up in the late 60’s, fighting with his dad. His Dad telling him he couldn’t wait till the Army got ahold of him getting his draft notice, failing his physical and his Dad saying that’s good …after everything you’ve read above here you can already tell “Mikey’s gonna love this song” … the song itself ( to me) is about young love in a small town and then not getting out of that town.. about feeling trapped but being ok with it. To me I probably wouldn’t have loved this song as much if it weren’t for the preface of the story.
“War” – This is the classic “War, HUH Good God Y’all” song…. Originally done as a Vietnam Protest song, this version was done in protest to the Reagan Administration, advising Youth not to trust their leaders/government. Even though I was ( remember this is me as a teenager with a button my jean jacket that Said “ I’m joining the Marines, going to exotic lands meeting exciting new people and killing them..) pro-war.. the rhythm and funk of this song moved me regardless of the lyrics and the meaning…
“Born to Run” –The ultimate freedom song to me, I think most every teenage boy dreams of Motrocylcles without a helmet, a hot chick on the back screaming down the highway and at the end of the road knowing you had a blast by the number of bugs stuck in your teeth…
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” – OK this song… this song … in my old age, I am NOT a dancer… I don’t dance. It’s a well known fact. One facet of me that drives my wife nuts… I just don’t dance… I did at the wedding because you “have to” …. But that’s about it… it’s not that I can’t dance.. I can two-step, and Waltz ( thanks to @JL Fedler and West-Pac ’91), I can Cha-Cha and do the tush-push… I even youstacud do the Electric Slide! In high school I was in a Jazz dance/Singing group and danced in musicals …. The key with most all of those dances are they are all choreographed… see I take instructions very well I can follow rules and steps .. I can think outside of the box, but what I can’t ( or just really don’t like) do is impromptu dancing that would be anything but hilarious and sad at the same time for someone to watch… there is a video up on You tube of my most recent birthday and the group I was with making me get up and dance.. it’s painful to watch.. BUT this song… this style of song makes me want to MOVE… you got to Move it Move it… I don’t know what the style is, it’s kinda blues, funky rocky..harmonica and horns and bass it just makes me want to move..so my darling @Christy Cunningham if you want me to Dance this is the style of music that I would not be able to stop myself…
“Jersey Girl” – I rarely got this far on the album as I would have to rewind to “Seeds the River War”… but as an adult this song make me Love my Wife even more.. no she’s not from Jersey ( Though she does watch a lot of those types of shows..ugh…) … but I can imagine instead of the Jersey shore, the Washington Coast or anywhere else just taking my Baby out and being in Love with my “Washingtonian Girl” I love you Honey, always hold my hand and I’ll always kiss you goodnight.
So Today 9/11/11, 10 Years later…it still as painful for me as it was then. I can’t watch stuff about it or talk about that day much. What I can do though is I can continue to serve and fight the good fight, I can love my family and I can Learn about who I am, I can always improve myself but never forget who I was. Bruce Springsteen’s music that I talked about above is “New York/NewJersey” to me.. he’s a cross between Bob Dylan, Elvis, Gospel, Blues and rock…Sax, guitar and harmonica, you can’t go wrong.. but I wonder what he felt on that day along with the people who actually lived or live there? This day bothers me so much, but what about them? What about the people who were in the buildings and planes? The men and women who went in to rescue and aid? It’s days like this that make me wish I were religious… I would like to pray for those people, and I do in my own way, just thinking about them and wishing them the best is just as good for someone like me to do instead of asking for some God to help them. I pray that they find peace, both the ones who perished and the ones that survived. I pray that they don’t suffer from survivors guilt and I pray that they love and get loved. On the flip side, I pray that the evil that caused this tragic event is erased from the earth, though some other horrendous evil will rise to take its place, I pray that it doesn’t affect my family and loved ones and country.
To all my friends and family: If you read all this thank you , I think, you now know me a little bit better and a little bit of why I am who I am… just a little bit mind you… as I said I am not a jienormous Springsteen fan… my favorite bands are many and varied… but if you liked this little personal insight, let me know and I’ll write some (Much shorter) insights into some other of my favorites.. If you are an Uber-Boss Fan, please forgive my ignorance of the true meanings of the songs, I didn’t intend to misrepresent, I merely wanted to share what they meant to me and to honor the memories.
To Bruce: if you’re out there on the road somewhere, some motel room with a radio playing maybe you’ll read this and know that I thought of you on 9/11 and I still do, your hometown…after all you and Wayne’s dad’s each owned one of the World Trade Centers….Never Surrender even though you were Born to Run.. . I will go out and purchase “the Rising” which was your tribute to the 9/11 and a special RIP to the Big man Clarence Clemons.
Written In Memory of all those lost on 9/11