We all have a few special people in our lives that shape our tastes with music. I had two major ones that are mainly responsible for it: My father and my aunt. Most people who know me would probably say my father would be the obvious choice; he had an oldies show on our local radio station, but that’s a whole other post. Today, I want to tell you about the more subtle, but just as important influence on my musical upbringing.
When I was growing up, my aunt Marianna was the epitome of cool. She was single, she drove a red little sports car with a sunroof and sent me letters on whimsical stationary detailing her exciting life. Her life always seemed full of adventure, and I wanted to be just like like her. She always had the good treats in her purse, always went where she wanted and laughed with her whole heart.
I lived in a house where oldies rock and motown was the religion, and new music was sometimes blasphemy. My father had great, eclectic taste, but like a wine connoisseur, he preferred his music to be of a certain age before he could really enjoy it. Being a very nostalgic man, it was like a band had to withstand the test of time before he could give it an honest listen. My aunt Marianna was hip, she knew what the good party music was and she introduced me to some of the grungiest and greatest music of my life. She would take me on road trips, blaring Soul Asylum and Concrete Blonde, and I would sing along to lyrics about men I hadn’t yet begun to dream about.
Years ago, we were driving along my hometown and this song came on. She said nostalgically ‘Oh, I love this song, does anyone have a joint?’ I laughed and said ‘you smoke pot now?’, to which she joked ‘Only to this song’. This version of the song is raw, you can hear the anguish in her voice. And as my aunt explained to me when she first showed me it ‘Everyone has got a Joey’. It’s one of my favorite songs for that reason: It’s full of passion and truth. And that’s who my aunt is, even if she doesn’t always see it. My aunt has taken care of me in ways that go above and beyond the aunt status, she has taken care of everyone. And throughout all that, she can still make me laugh like no one else. She still smiles with her whole heart.
Aunts are special, and mine has a birthday this week. Sometimes I’m not good with showing emotion, so I’m gonna use this weeks blog to say : Anna, without you there were many occassions I would have missed, things I could not have achieved and I don’t think I would have grown into the person I am without your influence; musically and otherwise. Thank you so much for introducing me to these songs and helping me along into the person I’m becoming. I still want to be just like you.
So readers, this week you have homework. Press play on this song, light a joint if you’ve got one and think of all the people who had a hand in influencing your musical upbringing. If you have an awesome aunt or uncle, I want you to call them and say thank you; they seem to get left behind in the thanks department. Sometimes it’s not the greatest hit that ends up helping you along, sometimes it’s the second-to-last song on an obscure album. And because sometimes it’s the people who are seemingly on the outskirts of your life that end up having the biggest impact.
Happy Birthday to my sweet Aunt, I love you.