Pop Kulcher

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My Life Was Saved By Rock & Roll:
A Pop Kulcher Audiobiography

Artist Song Buy
Ennio Morricone  The Good, The Bad & The Ugly [1966]  buy on itunes
The Carpenters  Hurting Each Other [1972]  buy on itunes
Paul & Linda McCartney  Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey [1971]  buy on itunes
The Osmonds  Crazy Horses [1972]  buy on itunes
C.W. McCall  Convoy [1975]  buy on itunes
Bay City Rollers  Rock & Roll Love Letter [1976]  buy on itunes
Sweet  Fox On The Run [1974]  buy on itunes
Joe Walsh  Meadows [1973]  buy on itunes
The Who  Baba O'Riley [1971]  buy on itunes
The Clash  London Calling [1979]  buy on itunes
Pink Floyd  Run Like Hell [1979]  buy on itunes
Genesis  Harlequin [1971]  buy on itunes
Squeeze  Mumbo Jumbo [1981]  buy on itunes
Violent Femmes  Kiss Off [1983]  buy on itunes
R.E.M.  Don't Go Back To) Rockville [1984]  buy on itunes
Camper Van Beethoven  Take The Skinheads Bowling [1985]  buy on itunes
Grateful Dead  Franklin's Tower [live 1975]  buy on itunes
The Connells  Scotty's Lament [1987]  buy on itunes
House Of Love  Christine [1988]  buy on itunes
Pavement  In The Mouth A Desert [1992]  buy on itunes
Yo La Tengo  Sugarcube [1997]  buy on itunes
Neutral Milk Hotel  King Of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 2-3 [1998]  buy on itunes

Comment:

Here, at last... my rock & roll confession. The songs and artists that shaped my musical life. Warts and all.

Anyone else have the guts to share their audiobiographies?

KEY:

1) I'm always jealous of people who grew up with a killer rock & roll record collection in the house. Me, I had to discover what was out there all by myself, with no help from my folks. My dad's collection, such as it was, consisted primarily of movie soundtracks and instrumental pop - Henry Mancini, Herb Alpert, etc. And, sure, these days Ennio Morricone has all sorts of musical cred, but I was born in the midst of the British Invasion, and it's hard to be excited (in hindsight) that while other kids were growing up listening to the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, and the Who, I had a bunch of Spaghetti Western themes playing at home.

2) The other thing that I had to grow up listening to - icky adult contemporary. Can I still hum the entire Carpenters catalog, some 30+ years later? You bet your ass. I appreciate there's some kitsch value to this music nowadays (ditto Burt Bacharach), but subjecting a six-year-old to "Sing" is simply cruel and inhumane.

3) During my formative years, Paul & Linda McCartney's Ram was the only rock album (actually, 8-track tape) we had in the house. I'm pretty sure my parents got it by accident, maybe forgot to send in the check for the 8-track-tape-of-the-month club or something. To this day, it remains one of my favorite albums, not necessarily on the merits - though I do believe that, artistically, it's underrated - but because for several years it was the only thing in the house I really liked. Particularly this song, which I would demand they play repeatedly on road trips (though, being an 8-track tape, you had to wait for the "program" to end before you could rewind. Hated those things!

4) Terrible, terrible album. The neatly-scrubbed Mormon boys go Led Zeppelin, particularly on this title track, which was a faux-metal pro-environment song of sorts, I think. However, it was also the first album I bought (not counting children's albums), based entirely on the fact that the Osmonds had a Saturday-morning cartoon at the time. (At the same time, my brother bought a Jackson 5 album for the same reason - and, yeah, he got the better deal.)

5) It sounds crazy, but I probably owe my lifelong love affair with rock & roll to "Convoy," a cheesy country-ish novelty track playing off the 1975 cb radio craze. My dad was big into cb's at the time, and heard about the song, so we had the radio on the Top 40 station waiting to hear this lame song. Which was fine with me, because it meant, for the first time in my life, that there was real rock & roll playing in the house. Sure, mid-70's Top 40 wasn't exactly the height of rock's artistry - we're talking the era of Captain & Tenille, not Hendrix here. But still, the cat was out of the bag, and I was hooked. Got an AM transistor radio for my birthday, and the rest was history.

6) Ok, fine, once I started getting into Top 40, I didn't exactly have the best taste. The Bay City Rollers were probably my favorite. But, hey, when you're 9 years old and there's no other music in the house, you can do worse.

7) Another one of my faves from my pre-teen Top 40 days. I remember saving some money, and my dad took me to Sears, where the Sweet's catalog was on sale. I bought the Desolation Boulevard lp, which was the first thing I owned that my parents truly hated. And that, my friends, is when I learned the real power of rock & roll.

CONTINUED IN COMMENTS SECTION...
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Pop Kulcher
Date: 3/20/2007
KEY, CONTINUED:

8) The first concert I ever saw - Joe Walsh, 1978, 12th birthday present. My mother knew I liked the song "Life's Been Good" from the radio and bought the tickets - all four of `em. Meaning my parents stayed (but, thankfully, sat apart from me & my brother). Hundreds of concerts later, I still remember it as both the loudest show I've ever seen, and the show with the most pot being smoked. Or maybe it just felt that way because I knew my parents were about ten rows back. Cool show, though.

9) By 8th grade, I was getting pretty sick of Top 40 radio. Fortunately, the junior high had a listening room and a decent record collection, and I started spending free periods exploring bands I'd heard of but hadn't really listened to much. The first time I played Who's Next was probably the closest thing to a musical revelation I've ever had - holy shit, all this amazing music I'd never heard on the radio! (Time to toss the ol' AM radio and get a real stereo.) I spent the next few years soaking up 15 years of classic rock history. But for me, nothing else came close to the Who - not the Beatles, not the Stones. Maybe Floyd...

10) I'd love to say that the first time I heard the Clash it changed my life. But it didn't work that way. Since I was still working my way through ancient history when punk found its way into Midwestern suburbia, I wasn't quite ready for it. So while I had a general fondness for bands like the Clash, the Jam, and the Ramones, they didn't really blow me away. It was more of a gradual thing - as I grew gradually tired of classic rock, punk and new wave started to feel fresher and fresher. And the London Calling album became the one album that I turned to more and more, and still is today.

11) Yes, still in classic rock mode here. And Floyd was second only to the Who as my personal fave during the early teen years. I spent massive hunks of eight grade and freshman year with headphones on and The Wall in steady rotation. Plus the rest of their back catalog.

12) Before kicking the classic rock jones, I served my obligatory time in the prog world. Kinda stumbled into it, actually. When Genesis' Duke album came out in '80, I had a friend named Cecille, and we'd go to her house after school and listen to her sister's Genesis albums. While they were into the Collins stuff, it was the earlier, Peter Gabriel-era stuff that won me over. Got pretty into King Crimson at the time as well. By the end of high school, I'd started hitting the dregs of prog - Tull, ELP, etc. Definitely looking for something new.
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Pop Kulcher
Date: 3/20/2007
KEY, CONTINUED:
13) I first heard Squeeze junior year, when I went to visit my cousin at Ann Arbor. Listened to East Side Story a lot that weekend, and was totally blown away. Here was cool, fun, CURRENT music that somehow never got played on the radio. Gave me hope that there was a whole underground of new music waiting to be discovered, and that college was going to be this hotbed of people with cool taste in music. (Alas, when I got to college myself, it turned out everyone was listening to the same mainstream music - Dire Straits, Springsteen, Prince - and you had to dig pretty deep to find the indie/alternative scene.)

14) Senior year of high school was kind of a struggle. I had tired of classic rock and prog, and was spending a lot more time listening to the Clash, Jam, Talking Heads, Undertones, etc. But this was before "alternative" radio, and it was tough to find new non-mainstream music out in the `burbs. Plus, in the pre-Internet days, if you did hear about something interesting, you pretty much had to plop down $7.98 for a new lp and take a chance on it. Fortunately, I had a couple friends who turned me on to stuff you couldn't hear on the radio. The Violent Femmes' first album in particular was one of those shared discoveries that gave me hope for the rock & roll future.

15) If the Who were the band that turned me on to all the music that had come before, it was R.E.M. that turned me on to everything yet to come. If Squeeze was the promise that there was great new music outside the mainstream, R.E.M. was the fulfillment of that promise. Once I heard them freshman year of college, the floodgates opened. The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Husker Du, everything else that was going on with college radio - it all followed from R.E.M. Murmur and Reckoning, the 2 albums out at the time, remain timeless to me. Nothing else comes close.

16) Joined the college radio station freshman year, and a musical world opened up. Hard to pick any one song to sum up the college radio years, but this is as good as any - the sort of thing that reminded me that there was fresh, fun music that (seemingly) nobody else knew about. (Sonic Youth's "Catholic Block" is a close second, I suppose.)

17) Bit of a diversion here. I'd always dismissed the Dead, and realize that most indie rock types still do. But I can't deny that there were those sunny afternoons in college when we'd kick back with a little. er, refreshments. and play live Dead tapes out on the lawn. Saw my first Dead show at the Meadowlands in '87, with many more to follow up through `94. No excuses - I can still use a fix of live Dead now and then, and it would be dishonest to slight this contribution to my rock & roll life.
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Pop Kulcher
Date: 3/20/2007
KEY, CONCLUDED:
18) Still a great reminder of the later college years. These jangle-popsters from North Carolina were a virtual house band for us, playing regular shows before heading into NYC. Nice guys, great music, and fond memories of a lot of late nights of live music.

19) The law school years ('88-'91) coincided with a bit of a down period for rock, at least for me. Or maybe it was just the mixed downer of (a) being in law school and (b) being apart from my college girlfriend. Sure, plenty of great bands, but nothing revelatory. While the bands from my college days continued to release decent music, about the only thing new that I spent much time with was the batch of shoegazers and Manchester acid-house neo-psyche bands coming out of the UK. And while bands like the Stone Roses made a more lasting impression, and a lot of the genre feels kinda inconsequential and dated, this song seems to sum up the general vibe of what I was listening to during this period in my life.

20) Pavement were the third (and likely final) band that I considered truly revelatory. After moving to San Francisco following law school, I saw the music scene seeming to improve. But seeing Pavement live (opening for Sonic Youth) was one of those rare holy shit! moments. I thought I had been keeping up with the scene, but here was one of the coolest bands I'd ever heard, and I'd never even heard of `em `til that night. Proving once and for all that there is always something new and cool around the corner if you're lucky enough to find it. (Ran out to buy their album the morning after the show, and it's still a fave, one of those things that never grows tiresome.)

21) I'd heard their debut while I was still a college radio dj, and bought their albums during law school, but it was in the mid-90s that YLT really took off, moving from just another Velvets-inspired college radio band to a personal favorite (perhaps eclipsing Pavement). I still see `em live any chance I get, and I've probably listened to their albums more than anybody else over the past decade.

22) Finally, can't close the set without a nod to the whole Elephant 6 scene. Though indie bands like Pavement, YLT & Guided by Voices played a big part of my musical life in the 90s, the neo-popsters of the Elephant 6 collective (Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control, etc.) were one of my favorite discoveries of the era, probably the last "movement" of any sort that's really made a difference for me. NMH's second album was probably the last album that floored me on first listen, and which I listened to easily every day for a solid month. There have been great albums in the decade since, but few that have done as good a job at confirming the transformative power of rock & roll.
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hemizen
Date: 3/20/2007
Intensive work. I have posted a couple of autobiographical mixes; Faded Jaded Masqueraded and The Lake Street Tapes.
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Bear
Date: 3/20/2007
Great notes for lunchtime reading and some great music too. I really hope everyone shares as Pop challenges us... it'd be great to see everyone's ideas...
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Sean Lally
Date: 3/20/2007
Great job! The Who (and even moreso for me, the Kinks) made the transition from rock to punk so easy. Check out "my stupid youth" for a look at my formative years. Looks like guys our age (who became music snobs) have pretty similar stories. Funny.
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mahdishain
Date: 3/20/2007
i've got the guts to share though i am not sure i have the memory. fantastic mix!
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Mark Petruccelli
Date: 3/20/2007
Interesting, I'm 5 years older than you so alot of these bands (and even these particular tunes) had profound influence on me, but at a different stage of my life. 3,5,9-14,16 and 17 all speak to me. Great and ambitious (and intimidating) project. The notes are indeed a great read.
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jball1954
Date: 3/20/2007
This is awesome. The volumes 1 & 2 that I posted the other day is really my same concept (or half of it so far). "Meadows" is an awesome song and it probably ought to be somewhere on my top 100.
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DJ Karen Adams
Date: 3/20/2007
Fantastico! I thought about tackling this very task but didn't think anyone would care as to what shaped DJ Karen's musical life. I was wrong once before back in 1995. Could there be interest?
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communist_daughter
Date: 3/20/2007
There's a video of the Osmonds performing Crazy Horses on youtube.com somewhere. Every time I hear that song, it gets stuck in my head. It's AWFUL, but it's still damn catchy.
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p the swede
Date: 3/20/2007
great idea, great liner notes and a cool mix
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gobi
Date: 3/20/2007
Fan-f*cking-tastic !Brilliant notes and a brilliant summary/self examination.<brI sense another project (that I'll probably never finish) coming on. Your honesty is astonishing - have you been through any therapy? . . . . I'm just learning this type of honesty through my (anti)drinking and smoking classes. Brilliant !
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Jmixtape
Date: 3/20/2007
This is totally awesome.I may have to steal your idea and do my own life.But I don't think the Village People and Iron Maiden would work on the same disc.I think it would mess with the space/time continuum(sp?)

Anyway....awesome mix.
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Siobhan
Date: 3/20/2007
This is brilliant. SUCH a good idea, and brimming with honesty and lovely reflections. I think everyone should be made to do this as an AotM initiation rite!
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Mesh
Date: 3/20/2007
Really nice stuff here, warts and all.
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anthony lombardi
Date: 3/20/2007
wow, just -- wow. i am speechless, i have no speech; just phenomenal. contendor for MOTW here, with strong competition from sammy's ava grace mix...
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ofthaltned
Date: 3/20/2007
That is a great idea. I just wrote the notes for one of my own, but something tells me that 25 songs, two of which are well over 15 minutes long, might add up to more than 80 minutes. Ahem. Concision has never been my greatest strength. Anyway, we do have the R.E.M. thing in common, that's for sure.
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French Connection
Date: 3/20/2007
Pauses(as his mind boggles just thinking of the time and effort involved with this mix) Great idea, great mix, have I the patience to take up the challenge though?)
PS Stone the crows! That's some Gobi confession there, will he ever be the same again!!!)
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Mixxer
Date: 3/20/2007
Fascinating! Everybody might think of making one of these. My hometown appears at track 15, since I used to live in Rockville (a medium sized town in Maryland that the song refers to).
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The Misfit
Date: 3/20/2007
Thanks for sharing this with us! I found this absolutely fascinating . . . and inspiring.
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windmillhdc
Date: 3/20/2007
A truely stunning mix. This is as interesting, acurate, and honest a description of the power of music over a persons life as could be written. Plus it comes with a soundtrack. MOTW!
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Saaf
Date: 3/20/2007
Enjoyed reading the notes. I think a lot of us have a similar history. Ram & East Side Story are two of my faves too.
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G-Sphere
Date: 3/21/2007
Wonderful story, notes, mix, etc.
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Yaminon
Date: 3/21/2007
Excellent, your notes are a pleasure to read and made me flash back to parallel episodes, including one involving the record bins at Sears. And I like how there's a happy ending (YLT, Elephant 6).
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Mike Eternity
Date: 3/21/2007
Wow. There are no words for this. You are the mix master.
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Rob Conroy
Date: 3/21/2007
Nice job, my friend. I'm tempted to come up with my own version of this someday and look forward to the next installments. I, too, was subjected to an unhealthy amount of Carpenters in my toddlertude.
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Moe
Date: 3/21/2007
Fantastic! A great read and some (mostly) extraordinary songs. The Ram album is also one of the first records I remember playing endlessly when I was a kid. I had no choice -- it was the only record I had! Anyway, thanks for this insightful look into your musical path. Long may it run.
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plushpig
Date: 3/23/2007
Looks like an enviably well-balanced & tasty musical upbringing to me
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Dead Man
Date: 3/23/2007
Very cool. Many of your comments resonated with me, particularly about Sweet, prog rock, the Clash, REM, the Connells, Yo La Tengo, Neutral Milk Hotel. I may choose a different song or group here or there, but I'm struck by how similar our musical experiences were.
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Little Spencer Boys
Date: 3/25/2007
I bow to you. I could not do this... I am unsure why I could not do this, but do this I could not do.
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Little Spencer Boys
Date: 3/25/2007
You know... Maybeeeee, just maybe we should all try a "Soundtrack to our life" compilation. I'll Ponder (and DJ Karen, yes I'd like to see your version).
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SteveRaglin
Date: 3/25/2007
Ditto, ditto, and ditto -- a telling collection and your comments are a great read!!
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quadb
Date: 3/27/2007
I haven't been on AOTM for a LONG LONG TIME, but I did come across this mix while reading your blog. It's fantastic, and I'm probably gonna have to attempt one of my own.
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buglady
Date: 2/28/2008
Oh man, this is great! Tracks 1-8 would have been exotic to me when I was a kid. I heard some Top 40 at friends' houses as a kid, but mostly it was classical, jazz, old C&W, 50s and 60s folk, and pop vocals. When we went for road trips I heard local radio stations play stuff like "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" and "Up, Up and Away". My favorite "mistake" recording my parents got (from their cassette club) was "Hey Jude, Hey Bing!" What was he thinking?!?! and I wish I'd witnessed their reactions the first time they listened to it!

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