When I hear the song Rocket by the Smashing Pumpkins, I remember the first time I saw the video on Mtv. (Back when Mtv actually played videos). It's so creative, and I love to see the kids building a rocket out of cardboard and other materials not suited for space travel, and then seeing the parents' faces when they blast off from the surburban backyard into the universe.
When I hear the song Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin, I remember the first time I saw and heard the brilliant singer/songwriter MaryAnne Marino blast out this song at a bar on Bleecker Street in the Village (in Manhattan). I sat there, in awe of her voice and performance. At that moment I wanted to be a guitarist in her band!
As a guitar player, when I listen to music, I hear the guitar first, and focus on what is being played. There are two instrumental pieces that I vividly remember hearing for the first time, and feeling as though it's not possible for someone to have made this music. They are that insane.
The first piece is the Jimi Hendrix performance of The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock. I had been obsessed with Jimi from the first song I heard. But when I listened to this, it made me, more than anything else, want to learn to play the guitar.
The second piece is Eruption by Eddie Van Halen. I was probably around 9 years old the first time I heard this song, and hanging out with my best buddy FrankJoe at his house. "You have to listen to this" is what he said to me. He put on the song, and I listened to the thuderous "eruption" with my mouth and eyes wide open. Then I started laughing uncontrolably. Not sure why. My only guess is that my brain could not process what I was hearing, so I just started wigging out.
I've been listening to the band Pixies for the past couple years on a daily basis. I was not into the band back in the late 80's/early 90's when they were at their commercial peak. I did what I usually did in the 80's, which was associate bands in a certain category and then reject all of them. Yup......I was a music snob.
For example, hair bands made me sick. Poison, Motley Crew, Journey, Whitesnake, etc. When Guns n' Roses hit, I just wrote them off too. That was my loss, because I later realized they are one of the greatest rock bands in history.
Similarly I grouped Pixies along with a bunch of bands I didn't like, such as The Cure, Depeche Mode, Erasure, etc. Again.....that was my loss......big time.
Listening to Pixies has helped me to be more confident and experimental in my song writing process, much like The Velvet Underground and Nirvana did and continues to do.
Other songs that move me include Gloria by Patti Smith, If I Ain't Got You by Alicia Keys, Blackbird by The Beatles, A Love Supreme by John Coltrane, Release by Pearl Jam (My go to song in times of sadness and/or anger), Freedom by Rage Against the Machine, and so many more.
"Pick up my guitar and play. Just like yesterday.........."