If you were to somehow uncover the yearbooks that spanned my years at Clack Middle School, you might think that I was going through some kind of identity crisis… which I was…

I was in middle school, within a few years of growing armpit hair (I was a late bloomer, what can I say 🙂

I spent my 7th grade year acclimatizing myself to the hip-hop culture that was prevalent at Clack Middle School; that is to say, I went to sleep every night listening to “Gansta’s Paradise” from the Dangerous Minds soundtrack that somehow got past my parent’s censors.  I was a real OG…

Then Eighth grade came along.  On the first day, I saw the coolest person I had ever seen waxing poetic with the ladies, making all the gents laugh and causing the hair on the coaches arms stand on end.  His name was Mark Hobbs, he had just moved to Abilene.  He had fire-engine red hair, parted in the middle and shaved on the sides.  He was cool.  But the coolest thing about him was the Ritz cracker shirt and baggy JNCO jeans he was wearing.  And, while I can’t confirm this, I’m pretty sure that Kurt Cobain’s visage appeared before me saying, “Dude.  You gotta get to know this guy.  He plays guitar…”

It turned out that Mark lived down the street from me and that he did indeed play the guitar.  Soon enough I found myself sitting on my front porch awkwardly cradling the Harmony guitar my mom and dad had bought me when I was eight.  The Christmas before I had been given a set of electronic drumsticks that were attached to a portable speaker that I attached to the elastic waistband of my jammers.  I would walk around for hours turning things like pots, pans and my Uncle Jim’s head into killer drum fills.  I’m pretty sure they thought the guitar would placate my desire to make a bunch of noise while saving the family noggins a bruise or two.  I’m sure they also thought said guitar might sit abandoned in my closet when I found out it actually took work to make the thing sound like music.  Then Mark came along, I dusted off the old six-string, and Mark went to work schooling me in the ways of Grunge and Industrial music.  The Cranberries led to Nirvana which led to Marilyn Manson which eventually led to a teacher/parent conference, which is another story all together.  That’s the year I really started playing music, writing my own songs, singing songs that were influenced by others but were birthed out of me.  That was also the year I realized that music, spiritual or secular in label, was all spiritual, that it moves people to feel, do and say things.

I recently reconnected with Mark on facebook.  While our lives have moved in different directions, I’m willing to bet that music still moves us both in similar ways.  It was Mark that introduced me to The Smashing Pumpkins, and I’m eternally grateful for that.  So, here is a video from number 9 on my list of Influential Musicians.  This music changed me and moves me to this day.  In many ways, I hope to evoke the same kind of hope, angst and beauty that this song evoked in me back when I thought novelty Tees and long stringy hair were the epitome of cool…

Advertisements