I’ve always loved music; the tunes, not the words. There’s something to it that excites my soul. I guess music treats my ears like art treats my eyes; there’s good music and bad. Music can be the most personal feeling one can feel, but like fingerprints every one has different feelings about each combination of notes. This is more or less a guess, but knowing that my tastes are different than others makes me think each of us is different.

From the age of five or so, I started to pick up on the music my parents listened to in the car. In the Sixties the music they listened to on AM was known as Middle of the Road. Later, this became Adult Contemporary music. It just means light pop music. This may have formed my personal tastes because Sixties pop music is in my opinion the best modern music ever produced.

The MOR music ranged from Downtown by Petula Clark to Dance to the Music by Sly and the Family Stone. It wasn’t rock music; I wouldn’t discover that until I was twelve. Then it was Led Zeppelin and The Who. The Immigrant Song was the first LZ single I heard on the radio. Then Black Dog, Rock and Roll, and Stairway to Heaven. I didn’t have an FM radio, but back then it was WAMS 1380 AM in Wilmington, Delaware.

The Top 40 era ended when I drifted to album rock and FM radio. Disco took over the pop world. Rush made 2112 and that led to Yes! Progressive rock and Led Zeppelin were my high school staples. The Army introduced me to Pink Floyd, Alan Parsons and early Genesis. In Germany the barracks had soldiers that were competing to have the loudest music system. Blaring Yes’ The Gates of Delerium either made me friends or enemies. Genesis’ Firth of Fifth also did the same.

In Germany I picked up on local favorites and odder tastes. Before Germany I discovered Kate Bush – she appealed to the MOR memories of my youth. While I was in Germany she released The Dreaming. It was a departure from her past and it took some acquiring, but it didn’t take long to hear the genius in the music. For me it was her pinnacle. I left Germany with different tastes in music.

For the rest of the Eighties it was periods of classical and Christian music until I discovered Alternative Rock. WMMR in Annapolis, Maryland became my favorite radio station. Now the more punk-driven Ramones and New Wave Talking Heads, along with Pixies and They Might Be Giants filled my headphones. In the Nineties I discovered my like for the more obscure (from where I lived) Throwing Muses. Liz Phair put out Exile in Guyville and that was my favorite album for the rest of that decade.

I didn’t know that throughout the mid-Nineties I was suffering from deep depression. A failed relationship made me isolate myself and the music I listened to was my drug. I ran four miles a day, five days a week and maintained a 31-inch waist. My brother said that probably saved my life when in 1997 I was in a bad car crash that ruptured my spleen. That accident changed me; I lost my depression and lost interest in music.

I met and married my wife in 2001. We listed to the Pop Country music of that time until she got tired of it. Then it was Sixties music for both of us up to today. I can’t think of any memorable music from then until now, with the exception for me of The White Stripes. Jack White appealed to the Led Zeppelin side of me, but I admit I don’t own any of his music in my collection.

In 2004, my best friend introduced me to a Plectrum Banjo and Jazz Banjo Music. At first, I tried to play it like a guitar and hated it. Then after watching some instructional videos and listening to the music, I was more amateur than ever. Fortunately, I met one of the best Jazz Banjo teachers, Four-String Hall of Fame honoree for teaching, Jim Riley. I played with Jim on stage and learned a lot before he moved away. Not knowing local players, I drifted away except where I played guitar, bass and banjo for a band playing Twenties to Seventies pop music. That kept me interested.

In 2012 I took a liking for Irish Traditional Music. It stemmed from listening to Jethro Tull’s Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses. On a whim, I bought the CDs and loved the flute. But it wasn’t the flute I picked up on with Songs from the Wood. It was the Tin Whistle. That led me to Irish Traditional Music and everything related. I wanted to play the Irish Flute, Tin Whistle and Fiddle. The flute was short-lived because I have arthritis in my right hand. Tin Whistle is better, but playing guitar for a year in an Irish Jam Session was fantastic.

The fiddle was more interesting. I discovered Cape Breton fiddle music and found online lessons from Kimberley Fraser. For two years I practiced and learned from her videos. I also found Elke Baker and The Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club. These years will be my favorite for playing music. In 2016, I moved away from Maryland to Florida and left Celtic music for good.

I went back to Jazz Banjo. This swing in musical styles reflects more of my disinterest in music more than I realize. The rush I get from playing is more than what I get from listening. I did get more nostalgic from YouTube and finding some old favorites, songs like Roadrunner from The Modern Lovers and early Talking Heads music. A broken finger in 2018 curtailed my banjo playing, along with other priorities. Playing rock music with a friend has been the limit to playing right now. I don’t where music will take me next.

Perhaps nowhere. Other interests override it. I still get chills from music, but I won’t let it overcome me. None of this music is about the lyrics. I don’t listen to lyrics. It’s the music: the skill of the musicians, the production, the quality. I heard Little Steven once say that the Sixties is the only time that quality music aligned with popular taste (that’s a paraphrase. I don’t remember what he actually said). Songs like The Crystal’s He’s a Rebel and The Archies’ Sugar Sugar are the best pop songs ever. There’s a combination of reasons too deep for me to explain. I may not listen to the lyrics but I listen to the singer and Darlene Love’s vocals on Rebel along with Gene Pitney’s composition and Phil Spector’s production is the perfect storm. I don’t think there will ever be a return to this kind of music.

That is my history of music, not that it matters. Someone may love this, but it’s not important. This is my fingerprint.