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.

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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’

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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