Got To Get You (Music) Into My Life

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by Karigan Wright

I sit on my bedroom floor, in front of cubbies full of eclectic records. I leaf through them, taking mental note of all the records I have and all the ones I don’t have but desperately need. I tend to have these meetings with myself and my records often when I’m home, even though my job as a student has a negative income and I have absolutely no business spending any more money on records. This activity is something I’m sure most people wouldn’t understand. Why spend money on ancient scratched up records when I could listen to them for free on Youtube on Spotify? But the answer to this is easy. These records have so much more value to me than just an album or piece of plastic. They represent my amazement with music and how songs can make me feel something that nothing else in the world can.

It all started with a group of four random men, dressed in shiny neon outfits impersonating the best selling band of all time. A single night ended up inspiring me for years to come and ultimately introduced me to a passion that would inspire my dream career. In fact, this night led me to write this article right now, for where I’ve written pieces for three semesters. This single night inspired how I live each day, changing my life forever and altering the person I once was; taking someone who hardly paid attention to music and turning them into someone who practically breathes music, someone who needs music to function, who loves reading, writing, and talking about it. I am now that someone who my friends ask me to talk about music when I’m sad, knowing I’ll instantly start smiling. Who would’ve thought my life would be changed so abruptly, simply by seeing “Beatlemania Again,” a Beatles tribute band?

One night in my freshman year of high school, my mom and grandmother basically forced me to go to “Beatlemania Again” at my high school. I grudgingly tagged along, feeling lame and hoping I wouldn’t see anyone I knew. I was taken completely by surprise when I realized I was actually enjoying myself.

The band members had costume changes as they performed The Beatles’ songs chronologically, starting with their performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, then to Sgt Pepper, and ending with Let It Be. I felt as though I was watching the progression of an incredibly successful band, seeing them transform from their simple suits and pop songs to their psychedelic sound and neon outfits to their mature vocals and classic attire. I remember sitting in the dim theater,  my stubborn self not wanting to admit to my mom and grandmother that they were right, that The Beatles were possibly one of the best bands of all time. I acted embarrassed when everyone jumped up and danced to “Twist and Shout,” even though I secretly wanted to join. I was overcome with the feeling of disappointment as the lights came on and the curtain closed, wanting to hear more, just one more song.

That night was the beginning of my discovery of music and was the first instance in which I felt a certain attachment I had never had with music before. I owe the rest of my musical life to that moment, to those random men and my mom and my grandmother, who unknowingly opened an entire world to me that I had never known. After that experience, I was incredibly interested in The Beatles. In the weeks following the performance, I started listening to them more and more, and eventually expanded my listening interests to several similar bands, such as The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, and The Animals. My dad was especially thrilled by my abrupt interest in “good music”, and began taking me to record stores where we could explore vinyl together. When I listened to Abbey Road on vinyl for the first time I felt like my life had changed. I couldn’t and still can’t completely put into words how their music makes me feel. Their insane creativity in their music made me want to know everything about them and left me wanting more.

I quickly became obsessed with everything to do with the 1960s and became more and more interested in politics and history, realizing how much music can influence societal change. This interest has inspired me to listen to music, watch movies, read books, and write articles that I probably would have never heard, seen, read, or written.

From there I discovered my favorite bands: The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Animals, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and countless more. I was amazed by the sound I was hearing and of the psychedelic feeling the songs triggered in me. I’ve never been able to put the feeling I experience when I listen to music into words, but I can say that it opens up the entire universe to me, making me feel like nothing else ever has. This music not only motivates and inspires me, but when I close my eyes and put a record on, my chest hurts in the most pleasant way, and I can’t help but smile, feeling as if there are an infinite amount of chords, rhythms, melodies, lyrics, and notes to be discovered and shared.

I found the ‘60s to be a fascinating time, as they were a pivotal time in America’s history, where everything was changing. The Vietnam War was five years in by the time 1960 rolled around, and the music reflected the dissatisfaction Americans had concerning our involvement in the war. Popular artists released songs openly criticizing the war, such as Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance,” and many more. Ordinary people were turning to music to find a way to express what they were feeling, and events such as Woodstock and Monterey Pop Festival took place, establishing a sense of community among all the chaos.

My interest in music and social change eventually led to reading Rolling Stone Magazine, and realizing that my dream job would be writing for their music section. This dream has continued to have a ripple effect throughout my life and has driven me to become a writer and to learn as much as I possibly can about music and the history and culture that revolves around it. I truly think it is fascinating to study how music and history are linked together, and how artists have played a huge role in social movements. I hope to one day be able to write about these phenomenons and how bands such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin influenced society.

My mind constantly wanders back to all of the moments I’ve had with just myself and a song, album, or band, where I ground myself in one place and play music way too loud whether it’s through headphones or a speaker, probably damaging my eardrums all the while.

Music is my truth, my happiness, my way of life. And I owe it all to that night.

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