I was thinking today, as I was going through my music collection, about how many of the bands that I listen to are influenced by the people I've met throughout my life. I think that music can play the same role as "comfort food", in grounding you in a moment or a period of time. I imagine most of us can hear a song and remember a summer or an evening when that song was playing, and became part of that memory.
I listened to a lot of radio when I was young, and I guess that's where I picked up my interest in different styles of music. I remember I used to take my Fisher Price Seasame Street set and have the "little people" put on concerts to the Top 40 countdown on Saturday mornings.
When I was old enough to start buying my own music, I started with the usual stuff you'd regret later in life. I remember that my best friend in elementary school was a big fan of Abba and Olivia Newton John (he came out a while back...) and that it wasn't until junior high or high school that I started to listen to the kind of stuff that would stay with me for many years.
My friend Brent was a bit more adventurous than I, even in grade 9 or 10 he had discovered The Cure, The Jazz Butcher and Sigue Sigue Sputnik (okay, they can't ALL be winners). When I hear anything by the Jazz Butcher, or tracks from Head on The Door, I think of Brent.
I remember going to the record store and buying Depeche Mode's Speak and Spell, and thinking that I had done something blasphemous. My friend was confused as to why I would listen to that "Weird Stuff". The Pretty in Pink soundtrack takes me to a sunny hallway on the 3rd floor of my High School (especially "Left of Centre" by Suzanne Vega.)I moved through their catalogue and into The Smiths. New Order was around the corner, mostly due to school dances. I was a DJ during high school, and Brad introduced me to many different bands (I remember in particular INXS's Listen Like Thieves".)
I met Ray through Loose Moose, and he introduced me to Billy Bragg, and more importantly, Elvis Costello. Elvis is still arguably my favorite artist.
I'll always associate Squeeze with hanging out in Kate's apartment on candlelit nights playing chess, and "playing chess". Crowded House also belongs to Kate, and many singer/songwriters of the female persuasion.
I discovered a lot of music through Katie: K's Choice, Shawn Colvin, Sarah Harmer, Tariq and Wilco to name a few.
I still love stumbling across an artist I wasn't aware of, and discovering that they fit in with my tastes. I'm sure there are many more friends out there with music yet to be found.