The Sound of Music, Part I

A big part of my life is music, so I would like to explain in two parts how music has shaped me.  Today is all about rock and roll.

I developed an early interest in rock music.  As I child, I wanted to be a drummer. As a teen, I developed a taste for loud, hard music.  By college, I actually was a drummer in a superior alternative band. I was a loud drummer–and a highly energetic drummer.  I had skills, but I favored volume and power. In performance, I not only broke sticks, but also drum heads and even cymbals.

At different points during this period, two other seemingly unimportant events happened, too.  I started borrowing CD’s from my grandfather, who adored classical music. Also, I played for one year in my college’s jazz ensemble, typically splitting the load with the ensemble’s other drummer, with the mainstream crossover songs falling to me.  Our professor, incidentally, was Anthony Branker, who went on to direct the jazz program at Princeton.

But rock at that time was my passion.  My hair was long. I was incurious of the theory and the deeper concepts related to the music my band was creating.  I liked the sound, and I liked helping to make it. We were essentially Hootie and the Blowfish five years before Hootie and the Blowfish became popular.  We had a similar sound, and we played as much original music in our performances as we could get away with.

By my senior year, we were truly a special group with a solid demo tape.  Then, the best and worst happened.

Our guitarist’s father was a physician who treated a man who managed some high-profile musical acts.  This fellow heard our tape and expressed a strong interest in becoming our manager. Typically, his bands signed contracts with Columbia Records.

This meant not that we were on the cusp of fame, but it did offer the possibility that we could record an album at a record company’s expense, see it distributed and promoted, play as a supporting act to another supporting act on a major tour, and at the very least earn more money than merely what we poured into equipment and transportation.

Sadly, we reached this point in March of the year we were to graduate with bachelors’ degrees.  Our singer and I were thrilled and eager to proceed. But our bassist had plans to go on to Berklee College of Music.  Our keyboard player had accepted a fellowship in biochemistry at the University of Colorado. And that guitarist, that brilliant guitarist whose compositions were so original and yielded such exquisite songs–the one whose father was a doctor?  He was ready to begin medical school in Philadelphia.

In essence, there was no more band.

So our singer went to Japan to teach English.  No one has heard from him since.

And I became a public school teacher here in the United States.  Rather quickly, my musical life began to change.  I would like to share that tomorrow if the gentle reader is interested.

6 thoughts on “The Sound of Music, Part I

  1. I’m sure you sometimes wonder “What if?” But it seems to me as though your band members followed their bliss. I hope you did too. I love your description of yourself as a drummer with enthusiasm! Can’t wait to hear Part II.

  2. “In essence, there was no more band.” What a great turning point! I always wondered about drummer’s and their replacement sticks and heads. To have such a passion! Can’t wait for part II!

  3. While you all have gone on to careers- it is the possibility of what “could have been” that I am left with in this piece. I wanted to be a drummer too. You have inspired me to share my experience (which i have cried to the music teachers in my school about).

  4. Life throws some curve balls and it sounds like this one was not favorable. Somehow, you have turned it into a meaningful and impactful life, nonetheless. Were you devastated that your career hopes took such a drastic turn for reasons beyond your control? I would like to read on!

  5. I like your description of how you were a powerful drummer. I can see pieces of drumsticks flying during performances. I’m glad that you found a profession that you enjoy but I’m sure from time to time you sit there and play the “what if” game.

  6. When I first heard you performing in the GeeBees I was so impressed. And so surprised. Shocked even. Mr. Fornale, the revered English teacher. The only other person I had ever met besides my son who counted Moby Dick as a favorite book, pounding out Ozzie Osborne! I always wondered what your story was and am so glad to be finally hearing it.

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