Thursday, February 24, 2005

My Music History, Part IV: The Professional Years

I graduated from college in 1993. In early 1994, I landed my first "professional" job as an advertising account executive at WERZ Radio in the seacoast region of New Hampshire. WERZ is one of the big three stations in that area - one is country, one is classic rock and WERZ is a pop/rock/top-40 kinda deal. Working there meant that I was pretty much around pop music all day, 5 days a week, so that's what I mostly listened to. Unfortunately, this was a very dry musical period for me. I really had no definable path when it came to my musical tastes, I was really just all over the map. Little bit of country, little bit of rock, a lot of pop. I started listening to alot of dance music around this time. What's become known as "booty music" was becoming popular around this time and so I listened to alot of that. Some of my favorites were:

Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-a-Lot)
Rump Shaker (Wreckx'n Effect)
Tootsie Roll (69 Boys)
Come Baby Come (K7)
Whoomp! There It Is (Tag Team)

What can I say? I guess I'm a sucker for a danceable beat (and a nice booty!). Also around this time, there appeared a new radio station in Boston; Jammin' 94.5. They played all kinds of rap, hip hop, R&B and such, and it quickly became my station of choice. Gangsta rap still hadn't hit the big time yet, so most of the stuff I listened to was the more mainstream dance/rap/hip hop type stuff. Here are some example to give you an idea:

This is How We Do It (Montell Jordan)
What a Man (Salt n Peppa)
Here Come the Hotstepper (Ini Kamoze)
Sexual Healing (Max-a-Million)
No Diggity (Black Street)
Killing Me Softly (The Fugees)
Freak Me (Silk)

As far as straight pop tunes go, these were some of the songs I was into:

I'd Do Anything For Love (Meatloaf)
Mr. Jones (Counting Crows)
Runaround (Blues Traveler)
Jealousy (Gin Blossoms)
Only Wanna Be With You (Hootie and the Blowfish)

The alternative explosion was getting underway during this time as well, led by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I never really got into it fully. I did really like Pearl Jam's first album and listened to it quite extensively, but I've never much cared for Nirvana. I don't care much for their music and never really understood what the big fuss was about them.

As I mentioned in the last musical history post, country music around this time was getting to be nothing more than pop drivel, so I spent a lot of time during this period discovering much of the older country music. My brother introduced me to Johnny Cash and he became one of my favorites (still is). I also became a David Allen Coe fan. I guess I just prefer the old time, honky tonk, drown-your-sorrows-in-your-whiskey kind of country. I also developed a deeper appreciation for the King himself during this timeframe. That's right, Elvis. See, I took a road trip out to Las Vegas in 1995 with some friends of mine, and among the many places we stopped at was Graceland. I've always liked Elvis, but going to Graceland made me a much bigger fan and I discovered alot more of his music. My favorite Elvis song? Without a doubt, it's "Are You Lonesome Tonight?". It's such a beautiful song.

The only other musical influence of note that started to take hold during this time was hardcore or gangsta rap. For me, it had it's beginnings with songs such as these:

Nuttin' But a G Thang (Dr. Dre)
What's My Name (Snoop Dogg)
Uptown Anthem (Naughty By Nature)
Gangsta's Paradise (Coolio)

I wouldn't get really into it until later on, but it definitely took hold during this time.

Overall, this was a bad time for me musically. Although I was continuing my pattern of branching out and listening to different stuff, there isn't anything remarkable that defines this period for me. It was mostly the same ole same ole. The funny thing is that there was a lot of great music produced during this time that I got into, but I didn't discover it until the next phase; to read about it, you'll just have to wait for the next installment, which promises to be more interesting.

Stay Tuned for Part V...


JetShack said...

how can you be a white male
growing up in the 80's / early 90's and not understand what Nirvana was about but understand gangsta rap?!?
didn't you grow up in the burbs man?!?
for shnizzle.

Rik said...

Well, don't forget, I spent 4 years of college living with a black guy from the inner city and was constantly around him and his friends (incidently, one of them is now a TV star - Henry L. Simmons from NYPD Blue). What I didn't like about Nirvana is the music. They may have some profound lyrics, but I'll never know because I don't like they way their music sounds.

Dizzysatch said...

I was always a bigger fan of Pearl Jam than Nirvana, and one of the best concerts I ever watched was the one they held in Manila in the early 90s. At that time I was willing to line up for hours for only two bands, Pearl Jam and U2. The former came to Manila at the peak of their career (the 2nd album had just been released, I think). The latter will probably deign to go there when they're all in their 60s and 70s.

It took me a while to appreciate Nirvana's sound - like you said, the music didn't really appeal to me much. It just grew on me over the years and I like it more now.

I discovered a lot of the Seattle Sound grunge bands on the soundtrack of Singles, directed by Cameron Crowe. Great movie, great music: Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam - they had a bit role in the film too, Smashing Pumpkins, Mother Love Bone.

Rik said...

Diz: I've heard a lot of Nirvana's music, and I doubt it will ever grow on me.
You're right about Singles - great movie, great soundtrack. And I happen to be a huge Smashing Pumpkins fan...


Dizzysatch said...

Finally, someone who knows the movie!

You should do a musical history thing about "music I discovered through soundtracks". I can name Friends, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Leaving Las Vegas, Pulp Fiction, The Crow, Exotica and lots more.

Rik said...

Diz: Pulp that not one of THEE best sountracks ever? Tarantino does sountracks better than any other director. If you've never heard it, check out Jackie Brown. Great soundtrack.

If you like Singles, you probably also like the Reality Bites soundtrack as well...