I have had a lot of complicated relationships in my life. Save for my kid sister, it seems, every relationship I have had has been complex in its own way. With Missy it is simple. I try not to psychoanalyze her while she completely ignores the fact that I am bat shit crazy. This isn’t about that, though. Not directly anyway.
One of the longest relationships I have had, outside of my immediate family was with music, rock music to be precise. There are very few things, hell, even fewer people that I can honestly claim to love with even the closest ferocity. Perhaps I should go back, back to the beginning. Romantic comedies call it a meet cute, I think.
Before rock music all I had was Eminem, by far the greatest MC of our generation. There was a little bit of 50 Cent involved but that was it. I entered high school largely uninterested in music. It is fucking ridiculous the kind of crap people put out there, crap that actually sells. I am getting ahead of myself. My plan for that Sunday afternoon had been to play basketball. I was headed to the court with a friend, someone we shall henceforth refer to as Elec. Somewhere along the way he insisted we pass by the social hall; there was something he wanted to check up on. I followed him, hoping it was a minor detour in the grand scheme of things. I was wrong.
The first rock song I ever heard was Naked by Avril Lavigne. The title itself was enough to give me pause.
Hopeless romantic that I was back then, the lyrics spoke to me. The next song is what settled the deal, however. The first time I heard My Happy Ending I was enthralled. I couldn’t get enough of her. I stayed on, the basketball game completely forgotten. That was the first time. In the succeeding Sundays I was introduced to Simple Plan, still my favourite Punk Rock band, Green Day, Evanescence, Michelle Branch, Linkin Park, The Doors and Kelly Clarkson. I remember the first of each of them. With Simple Plan we had Addicted, with Green Day Boulevard of Broken Dreams, Evanescence Bring Me To Life, Michelle Branch Everywhere, Linkin Park In The End, The Doors Kryptonite, Kelly Clarkson My Life Would Suck Without You. The succeeding Sunday afternoons served to further my education. My love for the lyrical content of all these songs led me to start my own personal lyric book. Just before half term Elec gifted me my first Roc cd. On my way home I added to that particular one with a collection of Rock mp3s.
I graduated from high school an Avril Lavigne and Simple Plan fan. The hardest thing on my playlist was my favourite Linkin Park track One Step Closer and the Bullet For My valentine track Tears Don’t Fall. My first year on campus did nothing to radically alter my test in music. Despite the fact that I had knocked on the door with Tears Don’t Fall, I didn’t actively go looking for Bullet For My Valentine. Maybe it was out of fear I might not like what I hear or it was due to the fact that I might like it a bit too much. I had spent the final year and a half of my high school career defending the music I loved against allegations it was the Devil’s music. I blamed it all on Heavy Metal and just about every other genre of metal I didn’t listen to. It probably didn’t help that KTN’s DJ Kaytrixx probably has, by far, the worst taste in rock music around. In the immortal words of one of the greats, Rock n Roll ain’t noise pollution. All that changed, however, my first month in campus. I was on one of those exploratory walks, listening to Capital FM’s the Fuse when I heard it. Bullet For My Valentine, Deliver Us From Evil. The opening riff was amazing. For the first time I fell in love with music for a reason other than the lyrics. I am not discounting the lyrical content of the song, not by a long shot. So I downloaded my first Bullet For My Valentine Track. I followed it up with Tears Don’t Fall.
The first Rock album I ever collected was Bullet For My Valentine’s Fever. At some point that week I discovered it in a friend’s laptop. Despite all this, my true turning point came just before my second year. Back then I would travel to Nakuru before school was even in session just so I could hang out with my cousin. We shared a taste in music back in high school thanks to the same influence. While I had basically stagnated, his taste in music had evolved beyond me. He had albums from bands and artists I had never heard before, with an interest in genres and sub genres I had never heard of either. Despite my innate sense of curiosity I didn’t go exploring. Not until Within Temptation, that is.
Kellin Quinn has by far, one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. I started listening to Sleeping With Sirens after I heard the album Feel. We were supposed to be working that morning. My cousin had this ridiculous playlist, a compilation of over ten albums. There was Sleeping With Sirens’ Feel, Lacuna Coil’s Dark Adrenaline, Within Temptation’s The Unforgiving, Asking Alexandria’s From Death To Destiny, Black Veil Brides’ Wretched and Divine, Five Finger Death Punch’s Wrong Side of Heaven, Pierce the Veil’s Collide With The Sky, A Day To Remember’s Homesick, Bullet For My Valentine’s Temper Temper among others. I recognized Lacuna Coil from a song of theirs I heard back when I was still in high school, Spellbound. The rest, not so much, save for Bullet For My Valentine. The song that sold me on the playlist was Within Temptation’s Murder. I loved it so much I replayed the whole album. In the week that I was there I alternated between Dark Adrenaline, The Unforgiving, Feel and Wrong Side of Heaven. I wasn’t ready for ADTR yet, nor was I for Pierce the Veil or even Asking Alexandria, three of my favourite rock bands.
I went back to school with all those three albums on my phone, the rest in a flash disk. I deleted the Asking Alexandria album after several failed attempts at trying to listen to the music. I tried listening to PTV and ADTR to no avail as well. The first PTV song I actually did listen to without flinching was King for a Day featuring Kellin Quinn. Matter of fact, the only reason I listened to the song was because I recognized Kellin Quinn’s voice. It wasn’t what I expected. The ADTR song that led me down the rabbit hole was home sick. The lyrics kill me, even up to this day. Asking Alexandria came last, and quite by accident too. While transferring music from my flash disk to a friend’s phone I accidentally sent three tracks from From Death to Destiny. One day while playing his music I heard Don’t Pray For Me. The rest, as they say, is history. Within Temptation opened up the world for me. I moved past the restrictions I had placed upon myself and begun really exploring. I found Mayday Parade quite by accident. The titles of two of their songs, Champagne is For Celebrating (I’ll have a martini) and Happy endings are just stories that haven’t ended intrigued me enough to go looking for them. I kept pulling that thread until surprisingly, I stumbled upon Escape the Fate, Falling in Reverse, All Time Low, Florence and The Machine and My Chemical Romance. The mislabeled Lacuna Coil song Elegy led me to Leaves’ Eyes, Epica and Nightwish.
All in all my collection of rock albums is one of the strangest you will ever see. I still listen to Avril Lavigne, in case you were wondering, mixing it up with a dose of ADTR and Asking Alexandria every now and then. I added Bring Me The Horizon and In This Moment somewhere along the way, as late as late the year before. The youngest member of my still growing playlist is Halestorm, thanks again in no small part to my cousin.
The same reason I fall in love with all this different facets and faces of the love of my life, I fall out of love. I don’t listen to Kelly Clarkson anymore for the simple fact that I don’t recognize her music anymore. Somewhere along the line she bowed to pressure and went the Katy Perry way. I hated Linkin Park’s The Hunting Party, finding only a couple of songs tolerable. If they persist I will have to pull the plug on them as well. I haven’t yet listened to the latest Nickelback album despite being a couple of years late to the party. Call me lazy. PTV are making me wait for their fourth studio album so I shall, with my fingers crossed hoping against hope they don’t cock it up. I hope Asking Alexandria can survive without Danny. If the two singles they released is anything to go by though I wouldn’t hold my breath. Would suck if I had to lose my favourite British band. Danny is still rocking, though, I love his new band, We Are Harlot, not as much as I did AA but beggars can’t be choosers I suppose.
Music probably doesn’t mean as much to others, or even the same. I can honestly say, without a shadow of doubt, my life has been largely influenced, for better or worse, by the music I listen to. It bleeds through in my writing, my view of the world, my thinking. It’s a lot like being in a relationship. Crazy, I know. Thing is, if you don’t feel as deeply about whatever crazy shit you are into then you are the reason we have to listen to Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and the rest of the crappy reduntant pop music bandwagon. Like Danny Worsnop said, music is fucking dead thanks to you back stabbing cunts. A tolerable guy might even say to each his own. Keep waiting. I have given you my reasons, give me yours. What made you fall in love with Rock music and just when did this love story begin?
Inspired by stray cats.