Firstly, I hope all is rosy and happy in Autumnal music land. Truly is the best time of the year for music nerds like me. I find myself talking more about music; even with those I don’t have a whole lot in common with (like my 10 year old nephew). It’s like the cool air is a musical shot in the arm. Right.
Recently, as we spun a slow yarn about music and art and being expats, a dear friend of mine asked me what my “Gateway Band” was. Surprisingly, I had to take a little more time than I thought to answer. What I mean is – it wasn’t an immediate response; as immediate as one would have been had I been asked who my all time favorite artist or band was. That, friends, as you know, is a total no-brainer. So yeah, I had to think a little. The horror.
Let’s step back a second. A Gateway Band. As the words are turned on the tongue it is hard not to think it a monster, borrowing something from the questionable idea of ‘gateways drugs.’ Only, in this case, it’s leading one sorry soul down a path of aural destruction, one bad LP after another, until slowly burning out into a smoldering death with nothing to show for their existence but a stack of Phil Collins records. But no, never fear…it’s a positive entity.
So, what band or artist is responsible for the musical stroll you’ve taken for decades (or less)? What one song flipped a switch pointing you in the direction of the more obscure rather than the chart toppers on the radio? Take your time. It’s kind of tough.
As to not leave you in the dark too long, I decided that Echo & the Bunnymen were/are my gateway band. I heard “Bring On the Dancing Horses” and I was in swoony, teenagery love with them from about 1986 to 1990. If anything, the most interesting part of lassoing this bit of information is realizing how much my musical tastes have evolved since the mid-80s. The only continuity is that throughout the journey I’ve always plucked my records from the more progressive side of the shop. End of story. The genres have changed most definitely and though I still listen to EATB on occasion, I wouldn’t say they are one of my favorite bands. Ironic, as per my recent discovery, one would assume they must be. Nope.
If I had the time (and I was being paid for it, let’s be honest), I would scribble an intricate Musical Tree of Me, one branch upon another branch upon another with dates and bands and why I loved (and when I discovered) them and what was going on at the time I was listening. Just for myself, as I can’t imagine such minutia would be interesting to anyone else. It’d truly be happysad. In the meantime, I won’t be scribbling, just talking and, moreover, listening to the gateway stories of those close to me. Especially if I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing them before their musical taste was fine-tuned, as music, more times than not, is the reason I am friends with them in the first place.
There’s a lot to learn.
[Abby’s Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]