Soundtrack to Life – (Guest author: Aaron Rhoades)

This week’s guest author is our own Aaron Rhoades. Though it’s not one set storyas this column has been in the past, but it does cover the very premise of this column. In this week’s column he discusses how music has influenced his life throughout the years. Enjoy folks.

———————————————————————

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved music. It has always been a very big part of my life and has helped me through some hard times. From breakups with girlfriends to deaths in the family, music has always been there to get me through. Call it crazy, call it strange, but it’s like an invisible friend. A friend who speaks to me about problems and feelings, and tells me everything is going to be okay. A friend who tells me tomorrow will be a better day. I love music, and this is my story. I hope you read this all the way through and that you leave with something after doing so. Whether it be the satisfaction of reading a good story, or a realization of just how important music is in our day to day life. This is the story of a music lover, enjoy.

Who’s Bad?

I remember when I was very young, I would always hear my mother and my grandmother playing music. Mostly country music, which isn’t my preference now, but back then I didn’t care. It was music and I liked it. One of my favorite songs was by Kenny Rogers, The Gambler. I used to love hearing that song. Even Christmas songs, which I now find extremely annoying, brought joy to me. Every time Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer would play on the radio, I would call my grandmother to tell her. I got such a kick out of it. Speaking of Christmas, that reminds me of when I got my very first cassette tape. I don’t remember which album it was, but I do know it was a Jackson 5 album. I would guess I was probably about 7 at this time. That Christmas when I got that tape, I was so excited. I was all about Michael Jackson. I had the Beat It T-shirt, the Michael Jackson doll, and hell I even had the leather jacket from the Beat It video. Now I had the tape to go along with it all. I listened to that tape over and over again. I was into Michael Jackson for a while and I even got the Thriller album, on vinyl! I sure wish I knew where that album was now.

Let It Rock

Once my Michael Jackson obsession passed, I was introduced to rock music. Through my cousin, who played Bon Jovi’s album, Slippery When Wet, while he was visiting, I was turned onto to a different type of music. I loved it! Songs like You Give Love A Bad Name, Livin’ On A Prayer, and Dead Or Alive grabbed me by the arm, pulled me in and never let me go. I played them over and over again until I memorized each and every single word. It was like a snowball effect after that. Bon Jovi led to Poison, Whitesnake, and Motley Crue. Yeah, the fucking Crue. I remember seeing the pentagrams on the cover of Theatre Of Pain and thinking I would never be aloud to get the album. But I did and let me tell you, I thought Smoking In The Boys Room was the coolest song ever. These guys who were wearing make up, spandex, long hair, and earrings were singing about something that I knew damn well was against the rules. How could that not be cool to a 10 year old? Sure, that’s nothing compared to the song content now and those bands for the most part are forgotten. Back then though, they were everything to me. I remember emptying out my bank and counting out pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters until I had about 10 dollars just so I could go buy a new cassette. Mostly I only listened to a few select bands. Poison, Whitesnake, Motley Crue, Def Leopard, Bon Jovi, and some Kiss. I had a toy microphone with a stand, as well as an electric guitar that I couldn’t play for shit. Not to mention most of the strings were broken and it was beat all to hell. Me and my friends would get together in my garage with the stereo and we would pretend to be playing the music. We would do this for hours, and we had a kick ass time. Later on, I was introduced to a new band.

You’re In The Jungle Baby

This band wasn’t like the others that I had listened to. They were different. Not only because they didn’t wear make up and spandex, but their sound was different as well. It was raw, aggressive, harsh and in your face, and it fucking rocked harder than anything I’d ever heard before. I’m talking about Axle, Izzy, Duff, Steven and Slash…Guns N Roses. One listen to the song Welcome To The Jungle and I was hooked. They provided an edgier sound than what I was used to, as well as the occasional semi-sappy ballad such as Sweet Child O Mine. I liked how they weren’t afraid to say what they wanted to in their music. Appetite For Destruction was the album that introduced me to the harder side of rock, called metal. I started watching Headbangers Ball on MTV and was turned on to many other metal bands like Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Testament, and Skid Row. Every Saturday night, I was glued to the television watching those videos and jamming along to every tune. While I still enjoyed bands like Whitesnake and Poison, I got more and more into the harder bands I was seeing every Saturday night. I was soon turned onto a band who most people would consider the saviors of heavy metal, Metallica. The first album I heard by them was …And Justice For All and it kicked my ass like nothing else had before. The music was fast and it hit hard as hell. I eventually picked up Kill Em All and then later I got the Black album. I pretty much stopped listening to them after that album. While I’ll always respect what these guys have done for heavy metal, I don’t care too much for their music anymore. Their latest album, St. Anger, is terrible and I honestly wish I had never wasted my money on it. All of the hype of how the old Metallica had returned and got my hopes up I guess, and I was let down. That’s my opinion though. Some people agree with me and some people don’t.

Rollin’ With The Lench Mob

It was late 90, or early 91 and I was in the sixth grade when I bought my first rap album and was turned onto something entirely different. Ice Cube, Amerikkas Most Wanted was the album. I can still remember my Mom being so pissed when I popped it into the cassette player in the car after she bought it for me, not knowing what it was. The intro featured a guy going to the electric chair, and when asked if he had any last words, his reply “Fuck all ya’ll. She was not too pleased, but agreed to let me keep it if I didn’t let my Dad find out. I had never heard rap music before until now. I was immediately hooked and soon forgot about heavy metal. Ice Cube, NWA, and Public Enemy were the first three rap acts I got into. They talked about real things and said what was on their mind. I really liked that. Even though I couldn’t relate to most of the things they were rapping about, I still respected what they were doing. Of course being a white kid who listened to rap, I wasn’t exactly popular in my school of mostly white students. I heard the word “wigger” more than a few times during the day. I didn’t give a shit though, because I loved the music. If I wanted to block out the bullshit I had to put up with, all I had to do is turn up the volume on my discman. I learned about most of the music through the MTV show, Yo! MTV Raps. I watched it religiously, just as I had Headbangers Ball not too long ago. This was the only place to really catch any rap videos at the time, and I really embraced it. It was my only source for discovering new rap artists. Yeah, I watched MTV to learn about new music…sue me. That’s how I learned about all of the rap artists I was into, like Ice T, Too Short, Spice 1, and many others. Rap City was introduced on BET later on as well and they played a lot of the videos that MTV didn’t. I saw a video one day that really caught my attention and I had to run out and get the album. The video was for the song Trapped by 2Pac and the album was 2Pacalypse Now. I loved this album so much. I listened to it over and over and over in my Walkman. So many different emotions are covered on this album, as well as on all of Pacs other albums. He could go from a song like Violent where he talked about killing cops, to a song about teenage pregnancy like Part Time Mutha. I followed Pacs career up through the years, through all of his albums. His music touched me like no other rapper ever had, and I honestly feel he’s the greatest rapper ever. Again, just my opinion. When he died, I honestly felt like I had lost a friend. Still to this day, after he’s passed on, if a Pac album comes out then I’m there to get it on release date. I was later introduced to an album called 99 Ways To Die by a rapper called Master P. This isn’t the rapping alongside his son, ice on my wrist, gold plated fucking mansion Master P that most people know now though. It was about real shit, not how much gold was around his neck. The shit was hot, and I soon began grabbing other No Limit Records albums. Tru, Silk The Shocker, Mia X, and Kane & Able. Their southern style wasn’t like what was out at the time, and it was a breath of fresh air from most other stuff. However, they all got too big for their own good and soon money, cars, and jewelry consumed every single song. Cash Money Records came along too, and they were similar to No Limit. Similar style, released a new album by one of their artists like every damn month. I was into them for a bit too, until I realized it was all becoming the same. Rap became stale and boring to me and I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. It was then that I got into punk rock.

Change of Ideas

It hasn’t been that long since I got into punk music. Two years to be exact, but I’ve gotten quite an extensive collection of albums since then. The first punk album I bought was Blink 182 Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. I know, Blink’s not punk rock, right? Whatever. Like it or not, they are a form of punk rock. This album stayed in my CD changer for the longest time. It was so damn catchy and addictive, I had to have more. I scooped up all of Blinks albums and soon began looking for more punk rock. From Blink 182 I got into other bands like NOFX, Pennywise, and Bad Religion. I was and still am addicted to this music. I love every bit of it. The same thing that attracted me to rap in the sixth grade, also attracted me to punk music. It was real. Of course, the age old argument that punk is dead is bound to come up, right? Well, I don’t think it’s dead, just evolved. You know what they say about opinions though.

Unity

Music, regardless what genre I listened to at the time, has always been a big part of my life. When I was a little kid, I could pretend I was a huge rock star and live out that dream in my garage while jamming along to a Def Leopard album. In High School, rap music was my escape from the bullshit reality I had. Not fitting in at school and a fucked up home life with an alcoholic father. As soon as I put my headphones on, it all went away if only for a short amount of time. When my grandmother, who helped raise me, passed away when I was 18, music helped me through it. I would put on a song by Patti Loveless, called How Can I Help You Say Goodbye and listen to it over and over. When I was 19 and my girlfriend of 3 years moved away to Florida, I must’ve listened to the R. Kelly CD a thousand times in a row. Mainly one song really, called If I Could Turn Back The Hands Of Time. Recently, when my father passed away, I turned to music to help me through things. A song called One More Day by the country band Diamond Rio was played at his funeral, and it makes me think of him every time I hear it. When I’m pissed off, I can pop in some punk or some metal and just go fucking crazy and rock out for a bit. It helps me to get out some aggression, and maybe even keeps me sane. When I’m sad, I can pop in some Less Than Jake, Blink 182, or some other good time bands and it helps to lift my spirits. From good times to bad, music has always been there. I now listen to a wide range of music, consisting of punk, metal, a little bit of rap, and some things in between. If you look at my CD collection, which is rounding out around 600 right now, you’d see a very diverse collection. I’ve got Lil Kim, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Biggie, Simple Plan, Good Charlotte, Rancid, Ozzy, Staind, Disturbed, Operation Ivy, Anti-Flag, Blink 182, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, R Kelly, Ice Cube, Slipknot, Finch, The Used, MXPX, AFI, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alkaline Trio, Snapcase, Brotha Lynch Hung, and Nas…all on the same CD shelf. How’s that for wide range musical taste? Like I said, I love music. If it sounds good to me, I’ll listen to it and it won’t matter to me what the guy sitting next to me thinks about my choice in music. I see a lot of competing, for lack of a better word, in music today. The punkers don’t like the emo kids, the metal heads don’t like the punkers, the hip-hop heads don’t like the metal heads or the punkers, and there’s all sorts of resentment directed towards people who are into pop music, commonly referred to as “teenie-boppers.” I’ve been guilty of this at times as well. What it all boils down to is, it’s all music. It’s a part of each and every one of our lives, whether we agree on one another’s choices or not. With all of the bullshit going on in the world today, it seems that music is the one thing that should unite us all. Someday, it might be all we have.

Aaron Rhoades

‘Gambino’

———————————————————————

Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com

Open Mic with Bear Frazer 1

It’s been a while since I have actually sat down and wrote a column, but hey, it’s the summer, and that means four things, that of course, the ABC list. Alcohol, Bitches, Cigarettes, and Drugs. After all of that is overcome, it is time to get ready to knuckle down, get in that driver’s seat, and start steering the wheel again, and that is exactly what I am doing. I’m getting reorganized and re-focused once again, so sit back and relax, and be happy that the best journalist on the East Coast has returned, right where he belongs, at BP.com!

Now, you all know I will be talking about entertainment, but I think I should talk about some serious stuff too. That is how I will start out.

What kind of columnist would I be without mentioning my favorite band, Limp Bizkit, or limpbizkit? I have always been a big fan of the music, and as Fred Durst says, “I feel the positive energy man.” Whether he’s too doped up to actually feel positive energy of not, there is no denying that the LB has certainly affected out lives. Right now, they are on tour with Metallica, Linkin Park, Deftones, and Mudvayne and throwing, what I hear is a killer show in Summer Sanitarium 2003. Bottom line is this, you can say what you want about them, but the bottom line is that no mater how good or bad they are, they will DEFINETELY have a new album coming out. Expect the album to drop in stores in October 2008.

Also, expect the title to be something really, really long and something really, really odd.

I was watching one of my favorite shows, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and on the show was this 5 Year-Old Black Rapper named, “Lil Maxo.” This really bothered me. I mean like, why is this kid getting all this exposure? There are so many talented artists out there, and the spotlight is being given to this kid who can’t even ride in a car seat? I mean, he’s way too young to be in music, let alone, the rap scene. I mean, this kid won’t be talkin’ about “Bitches + Ho’s” but more like “Bert + Ernie.” I’m sorry, but I doubt this kid writes his own stuff and his voice is terrible. I just hate seeing people like, “Lil Bow Wow” and “Lil Romeo” get famous for not having any skill. These people should be in like Nursery School or Daycare, holding a rattle, not a microphone. The Bear says this: Go to school and understand the words you spit before you spit them. Seriously, you punks still suck on bottles shouldn’t be allowed to rap.

MTV has released it’s nominations for the annual 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. Leading the way was everyone’s favorite spare tire, Missy Elliot, with eight nominations. Justin Timberlake followed with seven nods for his song where he moans about his lost love, “Cry Me A River.” As we draw near the Awards, I will write a special “Open Mic,” with my picks on who will win.

Speaking of Music Tele Vision (Get it, M T V), I need to address something that pisses me off. What the hell is going on with the MTV VJs? It’s no secret that I really want become a VJ, I think that is highly known, but look at the current lineup of MTV VJs. You got Qudus, who look like he just walked out of a GAP Commercial. I mean, he sits there, smiles, looks like the dumb monkey he is, and has no personality. Then, you have someone named Hillary, who seems like a powder chick (for all those not familiar with the term, it means cokehead.) Then, there is Sway. I’ll admit, this cat has street smarts, but I don’t think he can pronounce any words clearly. He talks like he has a freakin’ muzzle in his mouth. I’m lucky if I can understand the message he is trying to mutter. La La has spunk, but all she wants is some ass, flat out. She works free for MTV or something just to be next to some famous guy. You know she is doing something for him after the show, or something like that. The only props I am giving out to an actual VJ is Carson Daly and Jim Shearer. Many people give Carson a bad rep, but heck, being a VJ ain’t all fun and games. I mean, he’s been around and he is quick on his toes, plus unlike other VJs, he has energy, personality, and good conversation skills that got him his late night show, “Last call with Carson Daly.” Jim Shearer is goofy, no doubt, but hell, the guy has one thing most of the rest lack: He is happy to be there, working for MTV. I mean, his passion is so noticeable, it is crazy.

I miss people like Matt Pinfield, Bill Belamy, and Ricki Raehtmen, because people like them helped pave the way to be a cool and respectful Video Jockey. As far as the MTV news Correspondents they are all very cool.

Speaking of Ricki, I have been watching his old show, Headbangers Ballroom and I am glad the network brought the show back, even if it is on MTV2. Pretty much, the show is two hours of your favorite rock and metal tunes, and it exposes a realm of hardcore metal that doesn’t get much exposure on mainstream television. It gives those artists a chance to show their musical background, plus special guests. Rob Zombie hosted it for a while before turning it over to Hatebreed singer, Jamie Jasta, but I mean, Jasta seems cool but I think he’s really nervous in front of the camera. He’s too mellow out. Seriously, someone poke him with a stick maybe throw a pie in his face! For Christ Sakes, this guy needs to stop being so quiet! Throw me a frickin’ bone! Anyways, on August 2nd, Motorhead and Iron Maiden will be on the show. Check it out.

We are getting to the very end of the column, but right now, I would like to re-introduce a tradition I once lost, and this my friends, is the Song of the Week. Every week, when this column is posted, you will be seeing the Official Open Mic Song. This week’s song goes to The White Stripes for “Seven Nation Army.” I picked this song for many reasons. The first of which is that this song has been doing very well on the Billboard Charts for the past few weeks. Secondly, I love this song. And lastly, I feel that the White Stripes are in fact underrated as a band. They are a two-piece band that is just cranking out the tunes. Their style is very original and very creative, and I feel that their style could lead some sort of revolution, if in fact it hasn’t already. This is one band that will be around for a very long time to come, no doubt about that!

Hey, this just in: Jerry Falwell is still a lardass! Alright, you can mover along to the next line now

I’m about to get going, but if you are looking around for a new album to buy, let me suggest to you Wulfgang’s latest, “Unleash the Beast.” I remember meeting these guys back in January. I heard some of the stuff on the album, and let me tell you, what I have heard is wicked. Check ’em out at Wulfgang.com. Another band you may remember is Depswa. I interviewed the lead singer, Jeremy Penick not too long ago and he sounded ecstatic about his band’s status. Their album, “Two Angels and a Dream,” is out, so check out Depswa.com. They are also on Ozzfest right now!

Lastly, BaloolaPalooza.com will be having a makeover writing the next few weeks. The look of the site will change as well as the way we function. We truly will become the voice of the people as we turn into an Vocal Website, specializing in columns, reviews, and interviews. We will also be adding a feature called the Great Debate. This feature will have a statement and two courageous fans will take sides and present arguments and responses. They will alternate and the procedure will take 15 days, but you, the people of BP.com will get to decide who wins. The future for BP.com is looking very bright, so get in on it and spread the good word. And after you spread a good word, drink a beer, smoke a butt, and party. Until next Monday, I’m Bear Frazer.

________________________________________________
If you would like to send me a letter and have it published in “Open Mic with Bear Frazer,” then email me at bear@baloolapalooza.com

Soundtrack to Life – A Tribute to a Friend

So, I’ve been on a six week hiatus from this column. Like I said, it’s not like a lotta ya read it. But I guess I had a loyal fanbase and that really shouldn’t be denied. So, I have returned from the grave to bring you more stories, and hopefully, you can send me yours, yes?

———————————————————————

A Tribute to a Friend

“Hammering in My Head” by Garbage

It all began in the spring of ’98. Having turned 16 the previous winter, Scott was the first person in our little clique to get his license. This was big for us because it increased where we could go and when we could go. Still, we spent a lot of time at Jay’s place, finding some game to play (ie. Capture the Flag). We’d created a wide variety of games to play so the days were always full. On one of these days, around the time Scott got his license, we were goofing around, playing one of these games when Scott made a dash for his van. He began to make a getaway when he stopped at the corner and called for me to get in. I somehow got ahead of the others and jumped in. He turned on the CD player as we sped off down the block. The song playing was “Hammering in my Head” by Garbage. Since then, I’ve always felt that to be a cruising tune, and the thought of it just takes me back to that day.

But that’s hardly the story here, just a minor portion of it. See, Scott was one of the most popular guys in school. He coulda had any girl he wanted and had friends in all forms of social cliques. I was lucky enough to have known the guy since we were in 2nd grade. That summer, we’d often be at his place, another bonfire party. I remember one in particular, in the fall though, shortly after school had begun that year. People of all walks of life meandered about the yard. Me, I was flat on my back staring up at the stars. A beautiful night. Later we wandered down the street by the old church and ran into another party that was wandering through a field. I think they were looking for someone’s keys. Adam let one of the girls take his car for a test drive. She returned with the rear bumper in the trunk. Tore it off on a mailbox as she was backing out of the driveway. We all had a good laugh about it. As our party died down, we heard rumors of another bonfire in the area. We decided we were gonna crash it. We never found it. We asked a few bars, witnessed a fight in one of the parking lots and wound up wandering an unfamiliar neighborhood. Just a stellar night.

Things were gonna be alright. Everything was right with the world. Suzan had stopped harassing me, and I actually had a social life now. And then, late at night on January 1, or was it 2? I dunno. But it was early ’99. I’d been chatting it up on Battle.net for a good portion of the night and was ready to go to bed. I was about to log off ICQ when Jay sent me a message.

“Scott was just in a bad accident. They had to rush him to Froedtert.”

He’d been driving, heading to Jay’s house when he hit an icy patch. He went into the ditch, but was able to recover and get back on the road. Unfortunately, the car coming from the other way couldn’t stop. He hit the driver’s side door, slamming Scott’s head into the window.

Around here, if you gotta be taken to Froedtert, you got fucked up. I knew that. I walked off to bed, blank faced. I never told my family what had happened. I slept fitfully, praying that he pulled through.

I found out the next day that he’d made it……. but, he was in a coma. When my family found out, I’d told them I hadn’t mentioned it because I just didn’t want to talk about it. This was Scott! The picture of perfect health. This guy was just amazing, and now he was clinging to life. I couldn’t fathom it. I don’t remember how long it took, but he eventually came out of the coma. I didn’t get to see him until April.

The whole clique came down to see him where he was rehabilitating. Awake, yes, but he was bed ridden. How conscious was he? I wondered. I thought they’d take us into his room where he’d be lying there and we could stand at his bedside. Instead, we took a seat in the cafeteria and they wheeled him out in a wheelchair. Here he was, a star track athlete, a ladies man, the king of charisma and just an all around great guy……. helpless. He sat there, head restrained so he didn’t have to support it himself, expressionless, pale, and not moving an inch. Occasionally he’d let out a zombie-esque moan. I did my best to look positive, but I could hardly even look at him. Literally a shadow of his former self. I felt sick. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t fuckin’ right……

It’s been 4 years now, nearing the fifth anniversary of that night. I still can’t believe that this is what has become of my friend. He has vastly improved over the years, but he still has a long way to go. He’s still in his wheelchair, can barely control his legs and arms and has a hard time keeping his head up. He can speak, but very slowly and very slurred. A lot of the time that I see him nowadays I require a translator. The one positive thing I can note is that, well, he’s still in there. The accident cost him his motor skill but he still thinks, acts, and talks like he did before the accident. When I visit, we usually play Magic. He needs someone to handle the cards for him, but he can still beat my ass on most any given day. It’s still not certain as to whether or not he will recover 100%, and sadly, I have my doubts.

———————————————————————

Got a story you’d like to tell about a song that’s in the Soundtrack of your life? Don’t post it on the board. Email it to me and I’ll put it in my column. Stories will be posted in the order that their received. I don’t play favorites. All I ask is that you make sure the spelling and grammar are in fine order.
Email your stories to: loki@baloolapalooza.com