Six Might Really Be Nine

Lonnie Spangler's Music Blog

The Soundtrack to a Really Bad Movie Called My Life…

1. Chuck Berry-Johnny B. Goode- I must have heard this song a bazillion times when I was growing up. Looking back, the lyrics are kind of heroically mythic. I remember seeing Chuck on Mike Douglas when I was like 6. He was doing the duck walk and I was thinking “that is the kewlest guy in the world!”

2. Some Elvis live album on 8-track- My family was definitely an Elvis family, and my brother played this one particular live 8-track over and over again when we were kids. I think when you are a kid listening to music like this, it just kinda seeps in, becomes a part of you, and comes out later in life, usually in ways that are surprising.

3. ZZ Top-El Loco- Like everybody else in the 80’s, I first heard ZZ Top in Videos. (Friday Night Videos, that is, we didn’t have that fancy Mtv crap!) I asked for a ZZ top tape for Christmas and got El Loco. It had a different sound than Eliminator, but I really liked it. I wouldn’t find out zactly what that difference was until later. It is spelled BLOOZE! I have been a fan of the great Reverend Willy G ever since.

4. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band-Live Bullet- I think people don’t have enough respect for Bob. He was a bad mutha f-er, dripping with soul, back in the day. This album is a perfect example of a high energy live performance. Bob and his guitarist (Drew Abbott?) obviously understood the mojo that Chuck Berry’s music can sling around. To this day it makes me laugh, because if you tear off some of Chuck’s guitar licks, many modern musicians will yawn and begin to clean their fingernails, everyone else in the room will go “heeeeeeeeeeellllllll yeah!” The “Everyone else” people are right.

5. Van Halen-1984- Yeah…. Eddie made me obsessive about guitar. It’s all his fault. I went through a period where I listened to nothing else and treated his interviews in guitar magazines like they were the bible. I think the way his influence changed my life was by selling me the idea that a poor kid, who built his guitar in his basement out of “scratch and dent” spare parts, could become the greatest rock guitarist in the world… through hard work and dedication. Think what you want about his music, but before Eddie, I thought being a talented musician was about being born with an “either you have it or you don’t” ability and being able to afford a $3000 dollar guitar that looks like a coffee table.

6. Van Halen- Live Without a Net concert video- I watched this 24/7 when I was in high school.

7. U2- The Joshua Tree-I got turned onto U2 late. I had friends in High School (Hi, Laurie, Sarah, and Matt!) that loved them, but at the time I mostly listened to shredding guitar players. I think this is one of the first albums that really moved me lyrically. It made me want to write good lyrics and think that great songs should have meaning.

8. Stevie Ray Vaughan- Couldn’t Stand The Weather-My high school principle, Mr. Freeland, brought this album in on vinyl for me to listen to. I was blown away! I felt a nagging suspicion that blues-influenced music was really the path for me, but I think my teen-aged mind decided to go the route that had the best chance of making me seem cool. See, I did get something out of high school.

9. OK not really an album, but that Crossroads Movie with Ralph Machio- Yet another clue that I should have been playing the blues all along. I wore this movie out when I was a teenager. It was like guitar porn.

10. Any Led Zeppelin Album- Much to my parents dismay, these albums would lead my friend Matt and me to spend hours in my bedroom screaming into an echo drenched microphone “Waaaaaaaaaayy Dayooooown in syyyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeedah! It also made me think that the best songs start quiet, end heavy and are at least 8 minutes long! LOL! Still… no band touches Led Zeppelin, IMHO.

11. Derek and the Dominoes- Layla and other assorted Love Songs. When I was in High School, I had read that Eric Clapton wrote the songs on this album, while strung out on heroin and because he was deeply in love with a woman that he couldn’t have. At age 16, I was pretty sure that I felt exactly like this…. every week. So I got the tape and would blast it through my headphones, while trying to pick out the guitar parts and abusing a very dangerous substance… Mountain Dew…. in the green glass bottles of course. Oh how my heart ached! “Why didn’t anyone understand?! Surely no other teenager ever felt this way! At least I have my music!” LOL. This was my version of what I think people today are calling an “emo phase”… I am guessing that it might have been a bit tougher for Eric to kick heroin than it was for me to lay off the Mountain Dew. I still miss those glass bottles though.

12. Jimi Hendrix-Axis Bold as Love- To me this album is the ultimate mix of virtuosity, songwriting, and soul. Anything I do, musically, is really the result of a failed attempt to be this good.

13. Stevie Ray Vaughan-Live at El Macambo Concert video- I rented this from the video store in the late 90’s just to revisit one of my favorite guitarists, but what happened to me was more like a religious experience (to use the words of one my roommates at the time). Something just clicked and I knew, as far as my personal musical identity, I was done with the whole modern hard rock/ metal thing. It felt less like a change and more like trying on different clothes that fit really well.

14. Albert King-Live Wire/Blues Power- Incredible! This is where Stevie Ray Vaughan got 80% of his licks. I love it when guitarists say things like “John Mayer is just ripping off Stevie’s licks”. Please. Everyone is stealing something from someone else. We all stand on the shoulders of giants.

15. Dutch Henry-1973- This is great album by a band from West Michigan. I stumbled into The Radio bar in Grand Rapids one night and thought it was a huge mistake until these guys took the stage. They had great harmonies and guitar playing, but what really surprised me was that I was humming the melodies to their songs for days afterward. I bought their cd twice because I lost the first one. Seeing these guys, who are roughly the same age as me, out on the scene, playing incredible music, really inspired me to do something with music again. For that reason, they are at least as influential to me as the other artists I have on here. I’m am still not sick of this album after tons of plays. The last band I was in, Shag Wagon Deluxe,got to share the stage with them a few times and it was always a great time. Check ’em out sometime…
Groove Digglah

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