Well, young fellers, I was born two days after Christmas, 1956. Accordingly, my parents were 1950s parents, with all the rush to Normality etc. While my dad as it turned out wanted to be a jazz trumpeter - and admitted to me that one time the great Raymond Scott's band stayed the night at their fraternity house (Univ. of Missouri, Columbia) - by the time I was born my mom had honed down such potentially subversive tastes, and they were populating their new-format Hi-Fidelity LP collection with... wait for it... Montovani, Ray Conniff, Perry Como (later done up splendidly by Eugene Levy on SCTV, lying on a sofa in a turtleneck sweater, crooning quietly, almost... asleep... zzzzz)...
Luckily 50s/early 60s rock and roll must have scared them out of that blandness phase, and I noticed a shift in what they listened to: more film soundtrack albums, and, for as yet unknown reasons, several disks of Liszt. This must have been part of my long enthusiasm for the soundtrack music I call "situational" - or perhaps while gestating inside my mother I grew so bored with Mr's Conniff etc. that I started making it up as I went along, or maybe being a breach birth after 36 hours of labor was revenge for all that soft stuff.
Anyway! My love for soundtrack music albums was cemented by two Stanley Kubrick films, "2001", and "A Clockwork Orange". My favorite bits on the latter were the more abstract non-classical pieces done by then-Walter (now-Wendy) Carlos. I absorbed the Ligeti material on "2001" like it was manna with honey on top. When Beethoven's 1970 anniversary came along, Time Life was offering up the complete Beethoven, all pristine Deutsche Grammophon, Karajan, and I persuaded los parentos to chuck up for it. Hazzah! Heaven temporarily attained. My parents still have that boxed collection and most likely won't give it to me until it's in a will or something. I was the only one who ever played the disks, so they're in mint condition.
In a kind of balance, I spent the mid-to-late 60s with a transistor radio under my pillow every night (even at summer camp in Vermont, where Cousin Brucie on WABC wasn't hard to get), and so my nocturnal appetites were fed a combination of Motown, Brit Invasion stuff (including four chaps), and pop psychedelia like "Pictures of Matchstick Men and You" or "Red Rubber Ball". My mother's campaign for Normality of some kind or another continued into the 70s, until she was satisfied that my tastes were more classical than otherwise. Or something else happened that I still don't know about. From one extreme it was on a Saturday after rising late, that I was verbally pinned to the wall while trying to eat my corn flakes, and she read through the lyrics to the Who's "Tommy", taking particular offense at songs like "Cousin Kevin" and "Eyesight to the Blind". Oh brother! Seems that was the result of the infamous Saturday radio address by Nixon where he told parents to "listen to the lyrics of the songs your children are listening to" or something like that. (Did anyone else get nailed by their parents after that speech? Somehow I don't think I was the only kid in the US who had to suffer that weekend). I've figured that it was the infamous "Bigger than Jesus" misquote incident that pissed her off about the Beatles... Subversive fellow that I was, I persuaded her that it was the shimmering, beautiful George Martin material on side 2 of "Yellow Submarine" that I was *really* after. Edge closer to the mid-70s, and by then she enjoyed both "Dark Side of the Moon" (especially "Eclipse") and "Animals" (though I had to cough really loud to obscure the line in "Pigs" about Mary Whitehouse, natch).
There's no accounting for taste is there? I find the one element that sparks my interest is CONTRAST, whether it's visual or musical. I find myself at times preferring a nearly-DADA approach to things, not recognized until going through old recordings the past six months or so. Something about music being sometimes like an ignored child jumping up and down just to get you to listen to them, as opposed to a child who somehow causes one to think, "Hey, wait a minute" on a subject not even brought up by the child-in-question. I think Cap'n Beefheart put it in "Bongo Fury", "Music from the other side of the fence". Hell, I don't know. I just like doing it. Still.
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