While I was studying abroad Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" was huge in Europe. I got back to the States just as it became big here too. More than anything else, that experience made me realize that I couldn't trust Top-40 radio; they were too far behind the times, and there were better songs that had been big in Europe that didn't make the jump. So much for a world without borders...
So I started seeking out independent and new music. I became a frequent listener of Brian Oake's Freedom Rock on Cities 97, because I didn't know where else to turn. He definitely introduced me to some good stuff, including what is now one of my favorite songs (my apologies for the 30 seconds of tuning).
Also, I used to be real frustrated at the fact that girls seemed to like guys who could play the guitar more, like somehow that skill made them more attractive. Jenny Lewis made me understand. Chicks that can play are more attractive too. And thus began my love of independent music and girls who can play the guitar.
When I got to college (yes, we're just ignoring the time I spent with country music in high school) I had a roommate who listened to nothing but AC/DC and, I don't know... Pantera? Something like that. It was obnoxious. Probably only slightly more so than my heyday-of-Napster-download-as-many-former-top-40-songs-as-you-can playlist. The next big breakthrough for me musically happened when I studied abroad. We all got incredibly tired of the music we brought along, and started swapping, where upon I realized the breadth of my musical exposure was still far too narrow. I needed to go digging. A trip to a record store in Rome netted me 3 greatest hits CD's that I was willing to take a chance on: The Corrs (I doubt it came back from Europe with me), Meatloaf, and Jimi Hendrix.
Meatloaf I enjoyed, but Hendrix... that was a revelation for me. Maybe I'd just heard the same one or two songs too many times (I still don't really enjoy "Purple Haze") and didn't realize what he was really all about. Whatever the case, I was surprised by Hendrix. Listening to "The Wind Cries Mary" opened up something new for me. It was subtle and beautiful and at the same time powerful. Yes please.
I guess we're going with a little tour of my musical self-education this week... and today hits two of my favorites from high school. Flood was of seminal importance in my listening development, and I've been to more TMBG shows and own more TMBG albums than any other band (a fact made fairly easy by their significant catalog). Chumbawamba on the other hand? My brother got the CD just for "Tubthumping" and decided he didn't like anything else on it. I pretty much liked everything else on it (and I liked "Tubthumping" too). It was subversive and intelligent and, for anarchists, amazingly structured. Anyway, a year or two ago TMBG covered Chumbawamba and I love them even more for it.
Also, it doesn't appear to be on Youtube, but you should go find Chumbawamba's cover of "New York Mining Disaster 1941." Hauntingly beautiful.
Philosofer week for videos! I've decided to kick off with one of my all-time favorites (and a fairly easy transition from the past week): "Mack The Knife". Though I acknowledge Bobby Darin's version is the definitive one, I was first really introduced to this song via Louis Armstrong. Way back when, when my family got our first computer, it was also our first CD player. We had 2 CDs. One was The Lion King soundtrack, and one was a Louis Armstrong's Greatest Hits collection. I wore the heck out of the latter. And "Be Prepared." The point is, this particular version of this particular song was one of the first ones I ever really fell in love with.