Fancy Frappuccino Friday: Formative Years – The Music

The Amusing Muse Fancy Coffee Friday: Formative Years The MusicThe other day, in conversation with a friend about music, I opined that I was confident that my very eclectic taste in music was heavily influenced by my brother when we were growing up. While he was not the only contributor to my far-reaching musical preferences, I suspect he was the most significant contributor because he was one of the first influencers.

I grew up in a musical house, my parents both played instruments. My dad played guitar, my Mom played accordion and organ. My maternal grandfather had a polka band and could play by ear most anything, and his brother also had a polka band. Many of my uncles played string instruments, composed music, and performed live. We watched The Lawrence Welk Show on Saturdays as well as Austin City Limits. My parents both had record collections from Hank Williams to Barbara Mandrel, from The Beatles to Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Being born in 1976, I grew up at a time when Disco was still playing, and big hair bands were really coming into their own. Punk was shouting from the basements, and George Strait was always the soundtrack for many of my horse-related outings. All of this thinking about music, its influence, and the impact of those who were around me, got me wondering about all the opinions, tendencies, and habits I have as an adult that are rooted in my experiences as a child.

The Sound of Music

At five years my senior, my brother was ahead of me in cultural familiarity when it comes to many things, including music. While I feel like we were frequently in contention over some trivial issue growing up*, I do have fond memories of watching Solid Gold and the Solid Gold Dancers with him. He also listened to hard rock on WAPL and blasted AC/DC in his Chevy Monte Carlo with the T-tops. We wore a leather biker jacket and, in my opinion, oozed “cool” while still being one, damned cocky, son of a bitch.

Band Geek

And then, there was my middle- and high school band director. He was young, once drove the tiger truck for a circus, idolized Animal from The Muppets as a fellow drummer, and “forced” us kids to listen to Frank Zappa and Gustav Holst. As a student, I can tell you that we kids caused more than one baton to be broken over a music stand, but we also appreciated this man**. He made us see that even if we liked one particular style of music above all others, exposure to other styles would do us a world of good. It would probably also cause us to appreciate our preference more, or in some cases, realize that what we liked might not be all that great.

Now Presenting

Today, what one probably will hear playing through my speakers – outside of an audiobook – will be straight out of my brother’s playbook: hard rock or heavy metal. But, you may hear classical or oldies, pop or rap, every day is different.

So much music today has been homogenized that there aren’t too many genres that can still stand apart, but hard rock and metal continue to do so. And, perhaps, that’s why I keep listening to them? The driving drum beats, the singing guitars, the insistent bass, the vocal ranges from deep to operatic falsetto? Or, maybe it’s because a part of me still remembers those few times when my brother allowed me to enter his room, posters of Samantha Foxx on the wall, and listen to music with him.

As long as I didn’t try to talk to him.

*My brother and I grew up and get along just fine now. I’m proud to report that his kids all like hard rock and heavy metal. Also, he is still a cool, cocky SOB, who sometimes is mistaken for a mobster in his sweet ride with the tinted windows and impeccable suit. FYI – he’s not a mobster.

**Facebook can be good for a lot of things, like staying in touch with people you like and appreciate, like your former band teacher. I, along with so many former band mates, are all friends on the Books of Faces with our former teacher. He’s good people.

The Amusing Muse is a writer, gardener, and student living in Southern Wisconsin. She’s been watching the signs of Spring, from the robins and red-winged blackbirds showing up to the maple trees flowering. Spring is almost here! When she’s not studying or keeping house, she goes to work as an Office Ninja and interacts with people in person instead of just online.

Music note clip art courtesy of

About The Amusing Muse

Deep thinker whose mind operates at warped speed. Philosopher pondering the big (and little) things in life. Storyteller. Office Ninja. Model. Teller of bad jokes. User of big words.
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7 Responses to Fancy Frappuccino Friday: Formative Years – The Music

  1. Shawn Bourdo says:

    I am also very far onto the what is kindly referred to as “eclectic” side of music appreciation. My XM presets include 50s on 5, Underground Garage, Classic Hip Hop, The Bridge, Outlaw Country and that Watercolors Jazz channel. I’m still discovering music from the 70s and 80s and amazed how much it was just a background score to our lives.

    • Eclectic is good! I have never understood people who declare that they “are a fan of music, but I only listen to _____”. How can you be a fan, or love, music if you only listen to one or two genres or artists/bands? One genre does not a lover of music make. I really like music from the 50’s through the early 90’s, because it really is the soundtrack for my life, but so much of what we listen to today came on the heels BECAUSE of that music, the riffs, the beats, that we must acknowledge it.

  2. Aging Cowgirl says:

    What!?!?! No mention of Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons Double Album or Neal Diamond and Hot August Night???? lol – Music, it is all good!

    • John says:

      Normally, I never even see other people’s comments, but I saw this one & had to respond, just because our Muse mentioned Middle School Band Director, and you mentioned Frankie Valli. Valli’s son-on-law is Gerry Polci, who ended up drumming and singing with the Four Seasons for much of the 70’s and 80’s (he’s actually the lead singer on December, 1963 – you know, aside from Valli’s falsetto).

      Well, Polci got bored sitting on top of his pile of money & went to get a teaching certification . . . and he was my middle school band director (well, he started when I was in high school – but, being the band nerd I was, many, many days, after school, we’d just hang out with Polci & play/jam/listen to stories of raucous band life).

    • LOL I can’t list ALL of them! But, “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” came on the other day and I sang along with it, word-for-word.

  3. John says:

    Oh, I love this post.

    So, while there is a very real link between what I’m reading and where I’m visiting (I *ALWAYS* read a book on vacation, just because thought of the vacation will bring me back to the book, and thought of the book will bring me back to vacation), I think the “coming of age” and “introduction to music” connection might be stronger.

    I can *still* remember the first time I head several of the songs that I keep in a steady soundtrack (and, like you, if it’s not an audiobook to which I’m listening, there is no easy way to guess what’s playing in my ear buds). Heck, I get goosebumps even thinking about The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down or 99 Miles from LA or Silent Lucidity.

    • You’re correct on the “coming of age” nature of music. I saw some months back that patients in memory care units were played music from the time they were about 16 years old and researched found that their memory suddenly had a surge of clarity. This was so successful that many memory care units now use the power of music to help patients remember things.

      I know that there are many pieces of music that take me back, many of them are classical, like “The Three Trumpeters”, the whole suite of “The Planets”, and “First Suite in E Flat for Military Band”. Marches always take me back to marching band and terrible uniforms. When I hear Type O Negative’s “Black No 1” takes me back to when I was a roadie for a friends band in college. And anything by Van Halen also takes me back to college where a friend was learning guitar and would throw me over his shoulder and run me back to his dorm so I could listen to the newest section of a song that he got down.

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