When I hear music that confuses me, I commit to listening to it. Electronic dance music was the exception, though. Dance music confused the hell out of me, but I fought it. I fought it hard. For years, I refused to dig in and try to understand it. I ranted about turntables not being instruments and DJs not being musicians. When it came to dance music, I channeled Nancy Reagan and just said no.
U2 started chipping at my resistance with Achtung Baby, as did industrial bands like Skinny Puppy, Manufacture, and Meat Beat Manifesto, who incorporated elements of techno and acid house. In 1994, Portishead made serious headway in breaking my will with the melancholic beats of Dummy. Then came a one-two punch from Everything but the Girl with Tracey Thorn’s vocals on Massive Attack’s Protection and the Todd Terry remix of “Missing.”
My confusion grew. I recognized there was something special in electronic dance music, but I couldn’t find it. I tried listening to some “proper” dance records but the magic eluded me. I needed an easier route.
On May 6, 1996, the solution dropped into my lap: Walking Wounded was released. The record stayed in constant rotation for years, and I eventually sucked the marrow out of every note, every chord, every heartbroken and longing lyric.
Walking Wounded was my gateway drug.
As I listened to Walking Wounded over and over and over again, my resistance to electronic dance music finally fell. I began to immerse myself in records like Orbital In Sides and Future Sound of London Dead Cities. Underworld’s “Born Slippy .NUXX” was singly responsible for blowing the speakers in my little Toyota pickup that summer.
Within a few years, I was completely hooked, listening to old sets by pioneers like Larry Levan, Nicky Siano, and David Mancuso. My regular visits to New York venues like Mercury Lounge, CBGB, and Bowery Ballroom decreased, and I spent at least a few nights a week absorbing trance and progressive house at Twilo and basking in the legacies of Francois K. and Danny Krivit at Body & Soul.
It’s been 25 years since Walking Wounded was released and I’m hopelessly addicted to this incredible genre of music. Sure, rock and jazz and hip-hop (and one country-turned-pop-turned-indie superstar) have been an enormous part of my life’s soundtrack over the past 25 years, but electronic dance music has become both the anchor and the wings of my day-to-day listening. I owe that to Walking Wounded and I am incredibly grateful for the sounds and experiences this album has given to me.
“Personal Stories” is a series of posts about artists, albums, concerts, and other experiences that permanently changed our relationships with music.