Illustration for article titled Chronicles of a White Kid: Painfully Awkward Youth

As previously stated, my childhood consisted of an odd mix of music. It became incredibly more tame as I got older. From about sixth grade until sophomore year of high school, I boxed myself into this terrible trend of safe, unimaginative alt rock, and the standards that I inherited from my parent's collections, plus whatever bullshit I thought was important.


Both of my parents were born and raised in the New York/New Jersey-area suburbs, but they each had a rather distinct musical taste. My mother was characterized by the 60s-80s pop charts: The Beatles, Springsteen, Billy Joel, Simon and Garfunkel; you get it. My dad, on the other hand, was a HUGE country and southern rock guy (which also explains his infatuation with NASCAR, also passed on to me), making him this odd, displaced redneck-ish man, who most certainly rocked a mullet in my formative years.


I will always remember the car rides to my grandparent's house during the summers when I had school off and still couldn't be trusted with a house key of my own, so I'd be dropped off each day while my parents went to work. The mornings and late afternoons with my dad had very particular playlists: Garth Brooks, Sawyer Brown and Skynyrd. Then, I'd walk into the house and my grandma would be playing old show tunes until she would nod off for her midday naps while my grandpa would be off at work. That's when I'd throw the radio on to whatever caught my ear that week, which was usually something from the local classic rock stations (shout to Paul and Young Ron, on 105.9, for warping my idea of what morning radio shows should really sound like).

This manifested itself into a very closeted variation of taste that made myself believe I "grew out" of hip-hop music, and into some more "intelligent" listening. Enter: me believing that everything from the 60s and 70s was the be-all-end-all of rock music. Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Eagles (ugh...). All those bands had me reeling at the idea that music was so much more in the decades that preceded me, and I bought into this idea at school when most of my friends believed in the same ideal.


Now, this isn't to say that those bands aren't great, but I was under the impression that those were the only bands that mattered. What's most tragic about the whole thing, is that there were bands contemporary to my growing up that we (my friends and I) thought were defining our generation as the classics of that time. First and foremost in that line of thinking: Linkin Park.

Linkin. Fucking. Park. What a time we lived in, where bands could get away with pretty shitty musicianship and vocals by adding in a DJ and a bassist who wore his studio headphones all the damn time. Hybrid Theory and Meteora spoke to me, and countless others, for some reason. I still can't figure out why now that I look back on it, but we felt as if this was the sound of our time and it was in the same realm of mind-shattering creativeness that Roger Waters and Robert Plant were pioneering in their heyday.


Couple all of this with the fact that I was so anti-rap at the time that I shunned riding the bus to school if I forgot my CD player to drown out the noise that was being pumped through it on any given day. I convinced myself that my favorite bands were the only ones that could ever possibly produce a record worth listening to, even at the expense of wearing the same stained Pink Floyd shirt to school three out of five days a week.

This went on for a solid five or six years, which is literally a quarter of my life spent on being completely oblivious to sound and smell.


Your Playlist for Part II:

Linkin Park - From the Inside

Reel Big Fish - Suckers

Garth Brooks - Standing Outside the Fire

Billy Joel - Vienna

Steppenwolf - Magic Carpet Ride

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