– Jann Wenner; Co-founder of Rolling Stone
Being raised as a Pentecostal, you don’t exactly get access to your parents’ awesome record collection. Instead of Beatles records, I got Jesus sing-a-long tapes. And forget The Allman Brothers, I got the Children’s Outreach Choir.
The first time I heard Led Zeppelin was on a Sunday School documentary about how Rock and Roll is for the damned. After watching the documentary, I remember walking home with a few kids from my church. As they were trying to decide if they should get rid of their Backstreet Boys CDs, I was plotting to get my hands on Led Zeppelin IV.
When I was thirteen, my older and wiser sister came home from an afternoon of smoking pot with her friends. She had a burnt CD in her hand and told me come into her room and lock the door. We plugged in my bright purple CD player and she played me Nirvana’s cover of ‘Lake of Fire’, originally by The Meat Puppets.
I think Morrissey says it best when he sings, “Remember the songs that changed your life . . .”
For the next three years, I spent every free second that I wasn’t in church creeping around CD Plus in the local mall. I spent every cent I had on as much grunge as I could afford.
Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, Mud Honey . . . but my favourite – by far – was Nirvana.
Nirvana is nothing short of a gateway drug, and once you’ve realized that they stole everything from Killing Joke (Listen to ‘Eighties’ in comparison to Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are’), the next logical stop would be The Velvet Underground.
Lester Bangs says, “If you’re going to swaddle yourself in nothingness, nobody gives you a cozier cradle then Reed.”
Lou Reed’s New York is the most magical ground zero I can think of; it’s the very beginning and foundation of punk itself, CBGB’s, television, Patti Smith, Alan Vega (who would then influence everyone from Sonic Youth to the Beastie Boys).
Things were evolving and it music was documenting it so perfectly, mores then any other decade.
My goal is to one day have 100 pieces of bristol board scotch-taped together with a massive spider graph of how every band is connected, in one way or another.
For example, how are Lynyrd Skynyrd and Sonic Youth related?
Kim Gordon, of Sonic Youth, was in a band in the mid-90s called Free Kitten with Julie Cafritz, who is from the garage/punk band Pussy Galore. Neil Hagerty played guitar in Pussy Galore, as well as in Royal Trux. When the Trux released their album Thank You, they were jamming with drummer Chris Pile. Chris is the son of Artimus Pile, the drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd.
It’s easy to learn about what you find interesting; finding something to actually hold your attention is the hard part.
But, as Beck says, “Everyone’s gotta learn sometime.”