Category Archives: Personal Stories

Pan American (self-titled) and Pole 1

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Album covers for Pan American (Self-Titled) and Pole 1

It’s a beautiful spring afternoon and I’m in the drive-thru at Taco Bell in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ. It’s 1998 and I’m thrilled to finally have a Taco Bell in my neighborhood. I’m bored with the stash of CDs in my pickup so I’m flipping through radio stations when a sound I’ve never heard floats into my ears. A lazy beat… Read more »

How I came to appreciate the Beach Boys

Some bands I just like from the moment I first hear them. Others grow on me over time. Sometimes, returning to a band I hated sheds some new light. But I can only think of one band that I came to appreciate by actively arguing against them: the Beach Boys. While the Beatles versus the Beach Boys is not quite… Read more »

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um, Fort Apache Reservation, Arizona, 1989

Album cover for Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um

I lose sight of the two-lane mountain road on every westbound curve. The fire of the Arizona sunset is broken by trees but still blinding, relentless in its beauty and power. I drive too fast, taking corners like I was in my old Nissan Z instead of an overloaded Toyota pickup. I flirt with the gravel on the shoulder then… Read more »

Van Halen – Fair Warning, Albuquerque NM, 1981

Album cover for Van Halen's Fair Warning

I’m hypnotized by the wall of used cassettes when the in-store sound system yanks me out of my reverie. The song is dark and aggressive and exciting. It makes me feel an urgency unlike anything I’ve felt before. I’m a shy kid. I’m chubby and have a lot of pimples and I don’t understand what to do with the mop… Read more »

Lessons from a Rock n Roll Flop

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After a long stint of liking Kiss almost exclusively, I went through a rapid succession of favorite genres between about 12 and 14. First, it was Top 40, recording Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 on TDK D-120 tapes on Saturdays for a year or so. Hearing Def Leppard on the Top 40 started my shift toward harder rock and metal,… Read more »

U2 – April 10, 1987, Pan American Center, Las Cruces NM

My first concert of 1987 was U2’s sixth date on their Joshua Tree tour. I didn’t know U2 beyond Under a Blood Red Sky, but “Where the Streets Have No Name” immediately captivated me. I intuitively knew this band, this record, and this concert would change my life. My friend David and I convinced our parents to let us make… Read more »

Is Rumours overrated?

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Every music lover has lists. One that I’ve revisited over the years has been the Most Overrated Albums. For years, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours found itself on that list. The Danny Kirwin era of Fleetwood Mac was probably my favorite (who can argue with “Jewel-eyed Judy?”) and the Buckingham/Nicks era my least. There is a lightness or breeziness once Buckingham and… Read more »

Foreigner – February 9, 1982, Tingley Coliseum, Albuquerque NM

I was 12 years old and I was enamored with “Juke Box Hero.” Not just the song, but the story. That one guitar that blew him away and felt good in his hands and was a one-way ticket to the top. My mom drove me through the Southwestern snow to the local Sears. We stood among the tents and the… Read more »

Arthur Fiedler – Evening at Pops

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My first musical memory is watching Arthur Fiedler’s Evening at Pops with my dad when I was 2 or 3 years old. I don’t remember anything other than the closing credits, where sad music played over images of the theater emptying. Somewhere, there is a recording of me crying hysterically because that closing sequence devastated me. Yet I was hooked…. Read more »