For literally as long as I can remember music has been the single constant presence in my life. My earliest memories involve music. "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty and "What A Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers are the first 2 songs I ever recall hearing, both riding in my Mom's 1978 Datsun B210.
Many nights were spent with both my parents sitting in front of the turntable playing DJ with their record collection. Jimi Hendrix, The Faces, Bad Company, Zeppelin, the Stones, John Prine. All music I was turned onto and loved before I ever even started kindergarten.
The first band I could truly call my own though was Kiss. I don't know exactly how I discovered them, but by the time I was 4 I had records, posters, t-shirts and board games. Let me repeat that: I was 4.
Soon after MTV came along and I was hooked. I absorbed as much music from as many different genres as possible. Even though videos became a big part of the experience, FM radio was still the main love of my life. Rock 98 in Memphis (RIP) exposed me to everything that was going on from 1983 to 1988.
It was through late nights listening under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep I first heard every hard rock and metal band of the era. That became MY music. Beyond just the albums I bought every issue of Circus, Hit Parader, RIP and Metal Edge every month for years. It was part of the ritual of being a fan. A diehard metal head I became. Long hair, weed, whiskey, the whole nine yards.
Around that same time I became a ridiculously huge Aerosmith fan. To the point I have the wings logo tattooed on my right arm. That's the band everyone I went to high school with identifies me with. I was sure they'd always be my favorite band, until....
The mid 90's rolled around and metal became "uncool". Although I carried the torch far longer than the vast majority, my ears began looking for something else. It was then I truly discovered The Black Crowes. I had their first 2 records, but it was 'Amorica' in 1994 that put it over the top. It was, and still is, the greatest and most important album I've ever heard. It completely changed the way I listened to music.
Fast forward a few years later and through dating an English girl I found a love of Britpop. Oasis, Blur, Manic Street Peachers, Reef, Primal Scream, Supergrass. I loved them all. It was the next step in my evolution.
A couple of years down the line I started getting into jazz and "jam bands". Although the Phish/Widespread Panic part of that equation didn't last long, it helped me develop a taste for more complex music than I'd ever listened to before.
After burning myself out on that I went in the complete opposite direction and got into punk. Both the classic 70's variety and the hardcore bands of a decade later. The simplicity, aggression and DIY ethic was exactly what I needed after a couple of years of listening to people noodle endlessly.
All that brings me to today. The musical phases I've been though are almost like a series of relationships. Some lasted longer than others, some meant more, but they all made me who I am now. And they all still bring a smile to my face. Every moment of joy, heartbreak and the mundane has a particular soundtrack I'll never forget.
Almost 40 years later I can launch iTunes, turn up my stereo and go back to being that little kid sitting in front of the speakers listening to his parent's records. And just like that little kid, to this day I try to soak in as much of it as possible. All the music I've mentioned in the preceding paragraphs still make appearances, along with some new friends I've made in the recent past. I'm too old now for phases and trends. I simply love music and can't imagine a life without it. It's my happy place. My passion. My escape. My release. My ability to say things I can't put into words myself. It's the best friend I've ever had.