I heard Johnny B. Goode on the radio at work today, which immediately made me think of Back to the Future. Such an iconic scene and a pivotal moment of the movie. How on earth did Michael J. Fox get his voice to sound so much like Chuck Berry’s? J. Fox / B. Goode…must be something there. No wonder his cousin Marvin was so moved that he had to call Chuck immediately. The truth is, the voice we heard was neither Chuck Berry’s nor that of Michael J. Fox. If you are keeping score, though it was actually Mark Campbell.
You recall how Marty McFly starts to lose himself and does his very best Eddie Van Halen, Pete Townshend, and Angus Young impressions? It’s pretty cool how he basically recaps four decades of rock n’ roll in just a couple of minutes. Thing is, I have grown to be a bit annoyed by this part. I really just want to hear him finish the song. I mean, all the kids were enjoying themselves so much before that.
What’s great about this scene is that precise moment of surprise and joy when hearing music that is new and fresh and so very good. I love it so much because they love it. I get to experience rock n’ roll all over again through their ears. The rest though…well I guess they weren’t ready for it. I’m not ready for it either within the context of watching the movie at least.
Key moments in music for me begin with my discovery of the Beatles, at I believe 10 years old. I specifically recall roller skating, yes roller skating, around our basement while listening to every song. The Beatles were long since broken up and done making music, John Lennon already shot; but for me it was all brand new.
Another great moment in music discovery for me is when I first heard “It Takes Two” by Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock. That is not a typo. My introduction to rap occurred at the All-Star Baseball Camp in Trenton, NJ. I remember one of the coaches playing this song at maximum volume during some down time and being completely blown away. It was so different than anything I had previously heard. I also got to hear LL Cool J’s “I’m Bad” and some rap song made up by one of the kids at the camp during this week. The made up rap was performed by all of us while waiting in line for lunch one of those days. It had some very off-color lyrics and was a just a great moment of camaraderie and rebellion. I still remember the lyrics very well, but will not repeat them here.
Advice for if you are ever making a play list for any type of gathering: Time it so that “It Takes Two” comes on at that precise moment when you want the party to really get started. Trust me, it makes a thing go right.
During my college years I discovered Nirvana. Okay, pretty much everybody did at the same time. I think I lost count of how many time I heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at parties and everywhere else for that matter. On a side note for this period, the coolest song played during a party was the Cin City Sex Mix of EMF’s “Unbelievable”. Oh my god, how that sounded in surround sound. I just wonder how that will sound if I ever get the Atmos receiver I’ve been drooling over. Grunge, alternative music etc. seem to have been my final moment of discovery. I am apparently locked into that era when I listen to music now. Like some bitter old man I scoff at and complain about anything new I hear.
I’ll always have that one minute and forty-six seconds before Marty goes off the rails though. I guess it’s an oldie where I come from.