20 Bands/Songs My Dad Got Me Into
Before I was The Pop-Punk Dad, I was the hair metal kid. When we are all toddlers our parents teach us fundamental life lessons that we will carry on one day. One of my first life lessons from my dad wasn't how to throw a baseball, or tie my shoes (that came much later.) It was that "Your voice is an instrument. Practice it." I didn't know what the fuck that meant. I was like 5.
“YOUR VOICE IS AN INSTRUMENT, PRACTICE IT.” - My Dad
As I've said before, my brothers and I grew up in a house surrounded by music. We were tearing down lighting racks and setting up 18 channel PA systems with a crossover before anyone else our age sang Jingle Bells in front of the school in kindergarten.
Before us, for years my dad had bands with friends. Since he had the PA system, the lighting stuff and coaxed my mom into it, our house was the place to practice. Even at the ages of 3, 5 and 6 I remember my brothers and I to falling asleep on each other watching my dad's bands practice in our basement and singing along to the songs.
Then just a few years later while other kids were listening to that shitty fucking Millions of Peaches song and Ice Ice Baby, we picked up our own instruments and started playing The Beatles and Van Halen at ages 8, 7 and 5.
I could never sit down and write down ALL of the songs I've ever learned and all of the bands that my dad has gotten me into over the years, but this is just some of the set list, and some of the songs that we practiced and played. These songs pretty much gave me my chops.
Jump - Van Halen
Before I played bass guitar, I only played keyboards. One of the first patches any keyboard player finds is the synth patch. One of the first song they try to learn is this one. We played this song in bars when I was only 12 years old.
Europe - The Final Countdown
My dad collected a lot of vinyls and VHS tapes that were from bands. My dad owned "Europe- The Final Countdown Tour 1987". He wore the son of a bitch out. It warped, it rippled, thank fuck for YouTube is all I'm saying. Later when I got a KORG N5 I found a patch for the keyboard sound to this song.
This was the first song that I was allowed to have a microphone. I sucked at singing. Nothing much has changed. Just kidding. I've gotten a lot better. But it was also the first song that we implemented four part harmony. Mind you we were 6, 8 and 10 years old. Oh also my dad, he was like 45 or something.
We've Got To Get Out of This Place - The Animals
I know what you're thinking. "Finally a punk a band." This isn't punk? Seriously listen to the fucking words. They didn't have the fast beat then you dick. Okay. You take any of their songs. And turn it fast. Ta-fucking-Da. The Animals were a punk band before their time. I'm putting my flag on that shit. Be Misunderstood. House of the Rising Sun (Oh you shits know that one.)
Anyways. This was the first song I learned how to play on a bass preset when my grandparents bought me a SECOND keyboard. My dad went out, bought me a bass amp, and my second keyboard became the bass guitar preset. (Before I could learn how to play.)
Runaway - Del Shannon
I'm taking it back to 1961 with this song. I know some of them kind of old. This was the first song I ever had a solo on. My dad took me through it note for note the way he did on an old reel to reel that he had. He had zero patience with me in every other field except this.
1000 Miles From Nowhere - Dwight Yoakam
This isn't a typo. This is correct. We actually had quite a few country/folk songs in our set list. And Dwight is pretty bad ass. He's old school, he can act, he writes his own songs, he plays his own songs, and we actually owned this cassette tape.
Baby Blue - Badfinger
At the age of 10 and learning this song by ear with an accompanying 3 part harmony the amount of chord changes in this song I remember being a mind fuck. It transposes twice, does this weird thing in the bridge/solo thing. But I remember being proud of myself once I got it down and was able to play it. Now that I listen back at it, I do a similar transpose in the bridge of a song that I wrote with the 5th of a chord. And yes, this is the song from Breaking Bad.
Winger - Miles Away
Now we didn't actually play this song but I used to carry this hand held cassette player that took D batteries around and wore this song the fuck out. Everyone knew the words to this song even if they didn't want to. I think I was like 4 because I don't remember this.
She's Not There - The Zombies
Another band that I'm kind of convinced is a punk band. For some reason in recent years this song has been the forefront to a lot of campaign ads, commercials and leading female action movie trailers. Don't ask me why, could be me, but I feel like I hear it everywhere.
Anyways, this song was one of the first songs we had on our set lists. Probably sinces the chord progression is so damn easy.
Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum
Back to my KORG N5. There was a patch called White Shade. I punched it in, and 3 hours later without internet my dad figured out the song and we were playing it. The next day in school (internet.) After 2 hours, 25 minutes and 14 seconds EXACTLY (I remember, I was there) of dialing up to the internet, I printed off the lyrics, and low and behold. Song.
Boston - Piece of Mind
Another song that we never actually covered. But when my dad talked to people about "My boys" he always said we played "Journey, Foreigner, Boston, and Kansas". We never played a Boston song, ever. But when I think back to a song I would've wanted to play, it would've been this one, who wouldn't?
Chasing Shadows - Kansas
Speaking of "The Big 4" (JFBK). When most people think about the band Kansas, they think about one song. "Carry on my Wayward Son." Not going to lie, I do as well. That or "Dust in the Wind". A really awesome song that we found on a VHS tape that went missing years back was a song called "Chasing Shadows." We were kind of sheltered. Didn't have a computer until I was in 8th grade, didn't go to record shops and what not. So looking for this ONE SONG, we assumed it to be dead. Until years later when it bugged me and I went searching.
Hollies - Look Through Any Window
I remember the sound of reverb and slight out of tune-ness out of my dad's VOX amp and Rickenbacker the same way these guys would play it. This was one of the first songs that I learned how to play on the keyboard. I remember it being another pain in the ass chord progression songs.
Just a Matter of Time - John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band
Just like with the band documentaries, there were also movies with musicians in it. Enters Eddie and the Cruisers. A movie about Eddie Wilson who fakes his own death after the record company hates his experimental 2nd LP (spoiler) to reappear in the 2nd movie and start a new band from scratch. The music in both movies is from a band called John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band. (Wow what a fucking ring to it.) The songs were catchy as fuck though. You've probably heard "On the Dark Side" on the radio. Anyways, we covered this one from the 2nd movie.
Highway Song - Blackfoot
This song is another country-ish song. Such a staple for us. This was the 2am, fight with your girlfriend and break shit at the bar song. I sang this song and still do. This was the first song that I was able to sing a full song by myself, I think I was like 11 years old.
Man Against The World - Survivor
Another one that we never played. But damn it I sure as hell got my vocal chops during this one. The high notes in this one for me at a young age was a bitch. A lot of Survivor's stuff was. No not, Eye of the Tiger, fuck that song.
Come Again - Damn Yankees
Say and feel how you want about Uncle Ted Nugent's political position, but this rock supergroup also comprised of Tommy Shaw of Styx, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, and later to be Lynard Synard drummer Michael Cartellone. I think I knew that these guys came from other cool bands, but didn't really care what the other bands were. I just remember that High Enough and Come Again were awesome.
I remember watching the video for High Enough in the nursing home my gram worked at when I was younger with a really old guy who liked rock music. I also thought my dad looked like Tommy Shaw because he always wore the circle sunglasses and long hair like in the video. Later we covered this song. It was a bitch to sing. We did 4 part harmony, and at this time I was playing both bass guitar and keyboards at the same time.
This is another song we never covered. Never played, and I never got into or understood. I just remember hearing this song a lot when my uncle Jimmy would visit. It was one of he songs that my dad and him would play. If life was a movie and there was a soundtrack playing then this would be rolling during the opening credits.
I Started A Joke - Bee Gees
I can't finish this song. I can't listen to this song in its entirety. It's been over 5 years since my dad has passed away and I still can't listen to this song all the way through. When I hear it on the radio it devours me. When I'm in the store people have to think I'm insane. But why?
This song was the first song I ever remember my dad singing. Ever. Period.
There's a video of my dad singing with my uncle at Fort Smallwood, Maryland a long time ago. When my uncle showed it to us, the tape didn't start from the beginning, it started in the middle somewhere. It started on this song of him singing it.
The lyrics meant nothing then. It's almost as if now, that he's gone its his memoir.
For the mother fuckers that wrote "Jive Talking" and "Stayin' Alive". This is the deepest song I've ever listened to.
For anyone who knows my family if you didn't see this by now, shame on you. Although my dad loved the rest of the Journey fellas, after Trial By Fire, he gave up once Perry left. As I sit here with a "1983 Frontiers World Tour" shirt, I think back to all of the vinyls, cassettes, CDs, VHS, DVDs and YouTube videos watched in our home listening to that band learning their songs and crafting our harmony and range chops because of them.
Where my dad grew up loving The Beatles, he quickly found a love for the long haired, high ranged front man from Journey. We covered a lot of their shit growing up, and I even implement a lot of influence into my own music still. I always say my band is like the love child of Green Day and Journey. The awesome 80's synth and harmony with the fast paced aggressiveness and angst.
My household was a playground of music, a gear head's wonderland and musical structure came in the form of chord progressions growing up. I look back now and realize that we never played any song right even if it was perfect only because my dad didn't want us to fall in the hole of imperfection that he was in. Realize that you're not the greatest, own up to your mistakes, take your lumps, your empty shows and your criticism and turn that pain into something great.
I look back now, and it taught me then to never, EVER walk around with a chip on your shoulder like the fucking world owes you something. Especially in the music business, nobody owes you a fucking thing. The world is a monster that will swallow you whole and move on to the next victim.
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