11) With first loves came first heartbreaks. The summer of 1998 found Steve Lukather's Luke album to become the soundtrack of my broken heart. And hitting an emotional chord with me perhaps harder than any of the other songs on the album Always Be There For Me. The album was probably more accurately the soundtrack of Lukather's own recent divorce. But at the time I felt the songs were written as much for me as for him. "When I reach out my hand there's nobody there I can touch any more, When I call out your name, The pain rips right through me like never before. Is it too much to ask for one last memory? Cause yesterday you said you would always be there for me."
12) Those first two (of four) long hot summers at Cedar Point there were a handful of songs which could not be avoided including the obnoxiously bad Wannabe by the Spice Girls, Mmmm-Bop by Hanson, and I Want You by Savage Garden. But despite the inescapability of those songs, the one song that stuck in my head moreso than ANY of those was Bow Wow Wow by The Out There Brothers. That first summer, 1997, I had two roommates-- Scott and Tom. One night Scott asked us if we wanted to go out drinking. I said sure and despite his reservations, I talked Tom into coming along as well. Scott took us to this bar... and you'd think the name of the bar would have tipped me off... The Rainbow Bay that it was a gay bar... or maybe the lack of females, or the guys checking me out, or the framed photos of nude men on the walls, or the flier advertising an AIDS benefit featuring special guest "Mr. Gay Cleveland" might have tipped me off that this was a gay bar. But no, I was a bit naive and despite the growing evidence of the sexual orientation of the clientele of this particular watering hole, it wasn't until the song Bow Wow Wow started playing and a male dancer came out and started dancing/stripping to the music that it finally truly sunk in. That was my first, and only, experience in a gay bar. This was also the first time I met the gay African-American Trekkie *ahem* sorry.. TrekkER named Lenny whom would figure more prominently in the saga of the following summer. So whenever I think of that summer, that experience and that particular song just pops into my head... luckily the images of that evening have not survived near as well as that song.
13) Another song which figured prominently in my life in the spring and summer of 1997 was Joseph Williams Perfectly Clear. Williams, the son of film score composer John Williams, was the lead singer of Toto from 1986-1988. After his departure from Toto he released a couple of solo albums. The opening track on his 1996 album I Am Alive is a catchy track- Perfectly Clear. This song belongs on any summer road trip CD. It's catchy, it's fun, it's peppy and it's got this cool groove going on. And Williams vocals, as they had been in Toto, are exceptional. It perfectly captured the mood of that entire spring and summer: "Everybody out here smilin', and the sun is always shining, but I'm all alone and wishing you were here"
14) Northern Ohio has their own version of Jimmy Buffet. His name is Pat Dailey. And perhaps moreso than any other of the local musicians which consider Northern Ohio to be their home, Dailey's music captures the whole atmosphere of fishing, boating, drinking and partying on Lake Erie. In 2000 on his Great American Saturday Night Dailey included that rather autobiographical Being Me-- a song that I find myself relating to on a level I've never been able to relate to any song before. And thus in the music of Dailey I've found a kindred spirit: "I never set a clock to wake me up, I leave that for the coffee in my cup, and as the world assembles I will be the absentee, that's just what it's like being me."
15) For 18 months (late October 1999 until April 2001) I dated someone who made me totally miserable. It wasn't all bad, but it was bad enough for me to realize in hindsight that the relationship should have started and finished on the first date. In my misery I became a bit of a mysoginistic prick. That is to say if I could go back in time I'd probably deck myself for some of the bullshit that was spewing from my mouth. About a month after that relationship came to an end A new one blossomed. In contrast this new girl who had entered my life re-lit the spark and restored my faith in the opposite sex. She quickly and summarily snuffed out the bitter mysoginistic streak that had become a part of who I was in the previous relationship. That summer of 2001 was spent driving around northern Ohio in my 1988 Toyota Corolla to meet up with her for dates and the new experiences we would share together. I had made a mix CD containing many of my favorite songs for those drives but the one song that sticks out the most-- the one I remember the most from that mix CD is Level 42's Something About You. Much like with Joseph Williams' Perfectly Clear a few summers before, Something About You perfectly captured the mood of that summer: "Drawn into the stream of undefined illusion, Those diamond dreams, They can’t disguise the truth, That there is something about you, Baby so right, I wouldn’t be without you, Baby tonight"
16) After a wonderful 8 months together, that relationship came to a rather abrupt end in January 2002. And once again I found myself in the throes of heartbreak. This time I found solace and comfort in Dream Theater's Space Dye Vest: "Love is an act of blood and I'm bleeding a pool in the shape of a heart."
17) A few months later, on a half-joking suggestion of a Greek Internet friend in suburban Chicago I started corresponding with the girl who would become my wife (that whole story can be found here). Much of the summer was spent on long drives to and from Chicago for me and to and from Ohio for her. And much like the previous summer, I found myself listening to a lot of music on those 5-6 hour drives. Chroma Key's Dead Air For Radios became the soundtrack of those long, hot, sweaty drives at 75-80 mph with the windows rolled partially down to compensate for the lack of Air Conditioning. I also found myself inspired to do a lot more writing than I'd done in a long time. I found myself living On the Page: "When i sell them my life story, Maybe i should write it first, And do the living later'cause life is so much cleaner on the page"
18) One night while making dinner Toni & I were listening to Ben Folds, and rather than pick our song, it picked us. The Rockin' The Suburbs CD had cycled through to its final track-- The Luckiest. Here was this woman who suddenly made me feel as if things were right with the world again. And the unusual circumstances that led to our friendship, courtship, and eventual marriage were a bit surreal, to surreal to be mere coincidence. "I don't get many things right the first time, In fact I am told that a lot, Now I know all the wrong turns the stumbles and falls brought me here, And where was I before the day, that I first saw your lovely face, Now I see it every day, and I know, That I am, I am, I am the luckiest."
19) When I was a freshman in college this up-and-coming band, The Verve Pipe, performed in the college's athletic building. I had the good fortune of meeting their lead singer/vocalist Brian Vander Ark. He was kind enough to sign my copy of their debut EP I've Suffered a Head Injury which I'd purchased at the show. A few years later, about the same time Toni entered my life I decided to check out their music again. I discovered what has become one of my favorite CDs. The Verve Pipe's Underneath. One of the songs on this great CD, Colorful, has a lyric which I believe sums up life pretty well... a lyric I'd like on my epitaph when my time has come to "shuffle loose this mortal coil.": "We’ll live in drama but we’ll die in a comedy"
I hope you've enjoyed this musical journey as much as I have... now back to the regularly scheduled programming...