Monday, December 6, 2010

First Songs

Do you remember the first song you heard by your favorite band?

While driving back to Dunkirk after taking a friend to the Buffalo train station, I put a mix CD into my car's CD player. As I listened to the first couple songs, I realized they were the first songs I had ever heard by either band. It had nothing to do with why they were on the mix, and I didn't notice it when I made the mix a few months ago, and I didn't notice it any time I had listened to the mix previously. But for the slightly less than 6 minutes that it took to listen to those songs, it was stunningly clear that these were the songs that brought me to the rest of the output of the respective bands.

The first was "Mean Things" by Carpenter. I had heard that these guys were going to be playing with Two Cow Garage at the show I went to a while back, so I checked them out, and "Mean Things" happened to be the song I found to listen to. It ended up being the only song I heard by them before that night, but immediately after the show I checked out their new-ish album and loved it. Carpenter aren't really a favorite band, but with each listen to Sea To Sky I see more potential for them to crack the top 10, possibly even 5.

The second was "Remedy" by Hot Water Music. "Remedy" was on the second volume of Dragging The Lake, a compilation series that was the result of a team-up between Atticus Clothing and SideOneDummy Records. The song came immediately after "I'm Not Invisible" by Rocket From The Crypt, which had sightly less of an impact on me. I ended up buying the album it's from, Caution, then moving on the rest of their catalogue. Of all the songs I have by them, only one ("Trusty Chords," from the same album) has had a similar effect on me.

My point is this: The first time you hear music by an artist you later grow to love is a unique experience. I can't think of any other media that can have a similar impact. The first time you see your favorite movie can come relatively close, but when you sit down to watch a movie you have a general idea of what you're getting into. Same with a favorite book. But hearing a new song out of nowhere and getting hooked is completely different. It goes right along my usual viewpoint that music is the most personal media form/art form in terms of interaction.

Listening to those songs made me think of an episode of American Dad. The episode in mind was called "My Morning Straitjacket." Upset that his daughter has gone to a rock concert, Stan rushes off to get her. In the process, he hears the music of My Morning and becomes entranced by it, becoming an obsessive fan. While more than a little exaggerated, that is basically what it's like.

So the next time you listen to one of your favorite bands, try thinking back to the first song you heard. It's amazing how much it can refreshen your love for their music.

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