Musical Cambrian Explosion

On a recent cross-country flight, I watched Justice League. In the opening credits, there is a song entitled “Everybody Knows” sung by Sigrid. The song stuck with me but I couldn’t figure out why. I know I’d heard it before, a long time ago. After the movie, I got on the Internet and figured out it was the version of the song sung by Concrete Blonde which sticks in my head.

The first time I heard the Concrete Blonde version, was on the soundtrack from “Pump Up the Volume“. It was an old movie I barely remember watching, however, I do remember the soundtrack. It radically expanded my musical tastes. This quote from a noisey retrospective/interview on the 25th anniversary of the movie sums up the soundtrack quite well:

“But there was something about that soundtrack’s middle-fingered salute—a perfect companion to the film’s plot of a youth-led uprising—that rescued me from ever hearing Too Legit To Quit and Mind Blowin’.”

My repertoire of music at the time was lots of Metallica, Megadeth, AC/DC, Fastway, Ice Cube, Paris, Public Enemy, and ICE-T.  As a drummer, I was always copying the rhythms of everything and played in a Metallica tribute band for fun. I would find new music by looking at the credits/references in the albums I liked. This meant buying CDs, lots of CDs, and then ripping them to the computer so I could play them while doing other things. I spent way too much time and money at the local Newbury Comics listening to potential purchases, and buying too many of them. By the end of the 1990s, I had something like 800+ CDs. For comparison, by the end of the 1980s, I had 2000+ cassette tapes. Some of these were super rare, such as an original, autographed 7A3 and an autographed Forever Everlasting by Everlast when he was part of ICE-T’s Rhyme Syndicate.

I started my musical career in fourth grade learning the viola, then violin, and finishing primary school with years of the cello. I moved on to the string bass, the electric bass, and then to the drums. In high school (secondary school), one was forced to join the marching band, as concert band was tied to it. I played the alto saxophone, sousaphone, tuba, and various percussion instruments. Classical and big band music was always a series of notes and times and sheet music to me, it was never something to listen for enjoyment.

Hearing the Pump Up the Volume soundtrack for the first time was mind expanding. Very different sounds, tones, harmonies, and lyrics than I was already listening to. I did what I always did, bought the bands’ albums and started looking for references. It was my own musical Cambrian explosion into new genres. This diversity and variety of genres has stuck with me since then. It’s funny how my own experience, my parents and grandparents own musical tastes never really influenced me. I mean, my grandparents played Italian opera all the time, except when it was Cyndi Lauper once in a while.

If you’ve ever wondered why my iTunes “Listening To” is all over the place, now you have the start of an answer.

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