Before I moved to Seattle I considered myself to be pretty in-the-know when it came to music - I know plenty of classical, rock, jazz, modern, tango, pop, and alternative music, and I also know my way around a piano. Well, after being here just one month my musical ego has been taken down a few notches, and I’ve come to the sad realization that I know practically nothing about music. Seriously, I feel like a music bumpkin compared to some of these die-hard music fans. People here care about more than just the music – they want to know all about the people, events, and stories behind the music as well. They crave new sounds, they adore experimental artists, and they love being one of the first to know about the next great band. Sounds a lot like me!
So now I’m on a quest to expand my musical horizons, and you’re going to be the beneficiaries of my escapades. As I wade through the waters of the local music scene I’m going to let you in on all the treasure I find so that we’ll all be smarter, cooler, and more attractive. But first, a bit of music history. In order to understand the current Seattle music scene, first we have to know how we got here; wouldn’t you agree? So today’s music post will focus on some legendary Seattle-bred musicians from years past, along with my own favorite songs from each of them. Let’s jump in, and feel free to “come as you are”!
Jimi Hendrix: Can you say that you ever thought to play the guitar with your teeth? Somehow it did occur to Jimi to put dentine to string and pluck out those riffs with his incisors, and once you see him do it you’ll understand why the crowds went wild (check out his live version of “Hey Joe” on Youtube). Makes me wonder what other body parts I can use to play the piano. Nose? Toes? But anyway, you also need to see the things Jimi does with his guitar while playing “Wild Thing” live; I’ll just say it’s not called the “guitar sacrifice” for nothin’. I had no idea that guy was so out there. My favorite Jimi song is “Foxy Lady”. I’m comin’ to getcha!
Heart: Okay, it might be a stretch to call Heart legendary, but I like them so much they’re going in this post. Before the sad demise of my little red Mustang, I used to drive around in it while listening to “Barracuda” and feeling like one tough chic. Those Wilson sisters could rock it out right along with the best male rock bands of the time – Ann Wilson is even referred to as a “female Robert Plant” (lead singer for Led Zeppelin) – but unlike many musicians of the ‘70s (except Robert Plant) the Wilsons are still alive and well and continuing to produce music. My favorite Heart song is “Crazy On You”.
Nirvana: I was surprised to learn that Nirvana only released three albums; their influence was so pandemic that it seems like they released a plethora of albums. Nirvana ushered in the grunge movement that overtook the Seattle scene in the ‘90s. Not sure what grunge music is? Just picture head-bangers, crowd moshing (an activity in which audience members fling themselves against each other just for fun), and crowd surfing (being passed overhead from person to person) and you pretty much get the idea. My fave Nirvana song is “Come As You Are”.
Pearl Jam: To be a lead singer, Eddie Vedder sure does have trouble carrying a tune, but man can he write a rockin’ song. His occasional off-key warbling is only part of his charm, along with his curly long locks that I’m sure drove the girls wild back in his heyday. With such awesome song-writing skills, I won’t hold it against him that he struggles with hitting pure tones. Pearl Jam is my favorite of the big grunge-era bands, making it hard to pick just one song, but I’ll go with “Evenflow”.
Soundgarden and Alice In Chains: Two more local grunge bands who electrified the world. It’s funny to look at old pictures of these bands, because all the members look the same – long haired, skinny dudes dressed in jeans and t-shirt (or no shirt at all). That look was all the rage back then, and it kinda makes me wish I’d been here to be a part of it. I’ll just have to dig around and figure out what the next musical juggernaut is so that one day I can say I saw it all happening live. My fave Soundgarden song is “Black Hole Sun”; for Alice In Chains it’s “Black Gives Way to Blue”.
That’s just the teeny-tiniest sampling of Seattle’s music legacy. Over the coming weeks and months I’ll share with you many more of my musical discoveries; we have our work cut out for us! And by the way, the photos are of me listening to my iPod in various locations around the city. Enjoy!