There is nothing like the introduction of new music. Whether being the introducer or the introduced, the aura is unmistakable. Watching someone’s jaw drop can provide a wonderful sense of pride and accomplishment for those who take it upon themselves to spread the new gospel, while having an acute sense of hearing exalted with sounds you’ve never before heard together can be an ethereal, euphoric occurrence. Indeed, music can become your religious experience. Sharing music can develop into the start of a long-lasting bond, an anticipated togetherness that should never grow old, never become stale, never bore you.
I was eight years old when I first heard Stay Hungry. Sure, I had listened to and even enjoyed other music before, but this was different. This had an edge. It was angry, aggressive and most importantly, this was not my parents music. It was being played in the basement of the kid down the road, by his older and apparently way cooler brother. We were down there looking for some toys to smash, perhaps a sister to torture and it stopped us both dead in our tracks. I was immediately taken, a sharp left turn out of the unfinished laundry room into a wood-paneled living room, straight towards the record player, grimy little fingers outstretched before a commanding voice brought me crashing back to reality:
“Don’t fucking touch that, you little shit”
Right. Be cool. Older kids are looking, judging. Nope. The questions began spewing without a hint of reticence and much to my friend’s dismay, what this was, who this was, was there more? My eyes were wide with little thought of consequence…
“C’mon Gord, let’s just get outta here,” the kid said,
A moment of silence. I didn’t want to leave, but…..but I didn’t want my head flushed down the toilet either. There were stories.
Frozen. That clenched feeling you get in your stomach seconds before fists start swinging, adrenalin glands numbing your forearms…
“Well you little shit, are you coming or going? If you’re staying, turn the record over. I wanna listen to side one again.”
That kids brother changed my life that day. He knew it too, and I believe he did it for the same selfish reasons I do it today. That pride, that accomplishment, that aura. The younger brother never really hung around the basement after that, maybe a little burned by my acceptance, but I was there like clockwork, right until they up and moved without so much as a wave goodbye, digging through piles of tapes and old records, disappointed when recognizing everything on the floor, elated when something new was there to delve into. Big Brother certainly didn’t contribute much to the conversation back then, though I don’t imagine too many 12-year-old metal heads did in 1984, but he always let me choose what to listen to, no questions asked, and I’ll be eternally grateful for those experiences. I wish I could remember their names. I’d send them this.