I distinctly remember the beginning of my musical addiction. It’s one of the clearest memories from my childhood. I can’t recall any other moment being as elemental in the continuing bulimia my wallet suffers to this day. It seems like all my spending money goes to music, and this has been the trend ever since I’ve been able to make my own money and walk a half-mile in the freezing cold to the nearest record store just to browse through their selection. I’ve slowly developed a vast musical library, opening my mind up to all kinds of genres and pouring myself over aspects of my favorite albums that only the geekiest music fans could really give a shit about. However, my nostalgia concerning weekend rituals of hiking up to Tower Records and making big decisions on what music to buy with the little money I had should really be saved for a separate article. Here’s the story of how it all began.
I was eleven years old or so, riding home in my mother’s car one day when a song came on the radio. I had heard the song many times before and always liked it, but I never really asked what song it was and who had wrote it. This particular time though I did ask, and received my mother’s reply tagged with a sly smile. She said it was “Learning to Fly” by Pink Floyd. I instantly recognized the band’s name since I used to pry into my parent’s record collection when I was small to look at all the sleeves. My mother obviously took my interest in this song as a prime opportunity to educate me a little deeper on what constitutes good music, and when we got home she wasted no time in directing me towards her CD collection. She pulled out a particular album, placed it in my hands and gave me a set of directions I’ve never forgot. “Go into my bedroom, put this album on and listen to the whole thing straight through – and don’t come out until it’s finished”. Her sincerity prompted me to succumb to her will straightaway, and I eagerly took the disc into her bedroom and shut the door.
The simple yet incredibly evocative album cover added to my curiosity. Somehow, a triangular prism splitting a single beam of light into a rainbow over a black background filled me with fascination. What clue did this image give towards the actual music I would hear? There was only one way to find out. I popped the CD in the stereo, lied down on the incredibly huge and comfortable king-sized bed and completely zoned the fuck out for the next 89 minutes. Yep, I listened to the album twice.
The first time through Dark Side of the Moon completely floored me. I had never known rock music to be so creative, diverse and beautifully crafted. The harrowing screams of “Speak to Me” that flowed effortlessly into the dreamy chords of “Breathe”; the explosion at the end of “On the Run”; the blissful guitar solo of “Time” to the climactic ending of “Eclipse” had opened my mind up to the near limitless possibilities of what music could be. The organic quality of Floyd’s schizophrenic sound coupled with the soul and drama exuded from their artistic flourishes has pretty much defined the traits that I look for in the music that I choose to listen to this day. I couldn’t speak or move, and was helpless to the whims of this whole new level of listening.
The second time through I opened up the booklet to follow along with the lyrics. The poetic power infused through Roger Waters’ simply constructed phrases spoke to me of aspects of life I was too young to fully understand, but I felt hypnotized just the same. Only later would I come to comprehend the potency of his words and the way that he effectively expressed the madness resulting from the various social, political and personal hardships of modern life. When the sound of a beating heart closed the album a second time, I left my mother’s bedroom a different person than I was when I went in. The glorious world of music had enlightened me, and there was no turning back.
Music has since then been a giant therapeutic presence in my life, and an always faithful friend to turn to in times of need. It filled the void throughout my grammar school years when I didn’t really have a lot of friends, providing shelter and escape for a young boy who always felt separated from his schoolmates, and a bit like an outsider lost in his own head. Although I’ve grown out of my shell since then, the effect music puts on me is still the same. Whenever I’m weary of the world, I retreat to my bed, push play on the stereo, and all the troubles are taken away. The exploration of listening to music has become like a trip to the dark side of the moon. It’s unknown, seemingly boundless and rich with mysteries to heighten the imagination.