Friday, April 23, 2010


I remember the day I discovered music. I mean I grew up surrounded by music- not in the way some talented people are. My parents didn't play instruments or have a really diverse music library. We had a bunch of records, tapes, and 8 tracks. My grandparents tried to kill me with the likes of Guy Lombardo and his Brass Canadian band and Lawrence Welk (which aired prior to one of the best musical educations of all time- The Muppets).
My Dad was and is obsessed with Elvis. I never really got that into him but did love his movies as a kid- Fuck Yah "Roustabout"!. Then it was mostly classic and 80's country music for him. I felt that influence later and stole his entire LP collection. That LP boxed set of Hank Williams- goddam!
Mom had the biggest musical influence on me though- Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkle I wore that tape out. Donovan, Carol King, Joni Mitchell.
Together, they listened to and went to see good music- Charlie Daniels Band, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. At age 8 they took me to my first big concert- The Oak Ridge Boys at the Erie County Fair- 3 rows back stage left- I shook hands with Rich, the dude that sings the super low bass, and stood on my chair for "Elvira".

It was Trinity United Methodist Church where music latched itself onto me. Before I listened to anything else I listened to the people who would raise me sing "That Old Rugged Cross" "Amazing Grace" "We're Marching To Zion" and of course all the works of Charles Wesley:

The day I discovered music was after church on Mitzi and Chet Hitchcox's farm. It was warm and you could faintly smell the pungency of the manure over the sweetness of the hay and alfalfa. Generations of my family and the people whose roots went back a hundred years and more with ours. Sitting in a circle of lawn chairs with styrofoam plates full of Mrs. Boldts potato salad, Grandma Merle's maple baked beans, and hot dogs in their laps. Sarah Merle strummed simple chords on her guitar and played songs that I seemed to already know the words to. Chet took a harmonica out of the pocket of his short sleeved shirt and played along. They played hymns and Christian camp songs. I sat on the grass and was smitten. My Grandma Glor reached out and held my grandpa's hand when we sang "Rock of Ages". We buried her singing that song.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

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