What It’s Like to Be Me: In the Beginning Pt 8, The Beat of My Own Drum

My mom always told me I came out looking for a party, born with a surplus of energy. According to the stories I’ve been told, baby me was lit from the second I awoke until 8pm exactly, at which point I would fall asleep wherever I happened to be: the stairs, the hearth in front of the fireplace, in the recliner at Darrell and Sue’s house. Until the hour my internal clock expired, I was a wild and crazy kid.

I was also an odd child. If anyone had explored my childhood musical preferences, they’d have found me out of step with normal kids. My earliest musical memories were listening to The Righteous Brothers, Phil Collins, Chicago, Amy Grant, and The Beach Boys. I marched to the beat of my own drum, even if that drum was off beat or in an unconventional time signature. The first song I can remember being my favorite was Peter Cetera’s “Glory of Love” because it was featured in The Karate Kid Part II. That’s not a typical indulgence for a seven year old but I insisted on being my own person, as weird as it sometimes was. In fourth grade, when all the girls in my class were obsessed with George Michael, I couldn’t stand him. When Kris Kross became wildly popular during my seventh grade year, I was annoyed by them because they were the same age as me. I didn’t like Silverchair for the same reason I couldn’t stand Kris Kross.

Regardless of what artists and bands I enjoyed, I always related my life to the music I listened to – telling my own story through the melodies and rhymes of my favorite performers. From the moment my brother introduced me to glam metal in the 80s, through hearing Alice in Chains during a middle school math class, to falling in love with hip-hop in the late 90s, these songs have given me a voice I would not have found anywhere else. They helped me find my own drum beat so I could march.

dc Talk: “I Luv Rap Music
Rap music wasn’t played in my home growing up. My dad had a strong distaste for it. I was raised with a bias against hip-hop until this song changed everything. You can read the story of how that happened HERE.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: “My Oh My
Benjamin Haggerty (AKA Maklemore) is a few years younger than me. With both of us growing up in the Seattle area around the same time, one of the most influential non-musical voices in his life happens to have been monumental in mine too: “Around every spring, when the winter thawed we’d huddle around the radio, twist the broken knob. 710 AM, no KJR. Dave Niehaus' voice would echo throughout the yard.” Macklemore talks about his relationship with his dad and baseball in this tribute to Niehaus and it reminds me of my father’s love for the game and our devotion to Niehaus and the Mariners. “We’d listen to the M’s in the kitchen, and if mom wasn’t trippin. ‘Come on Dad just one more inning.’ Voice went ‘pump pump’ through the system, ‘break out the rye bread it’s grand salami time.’” That “grand salami” phrase was Niehaus’ way of describing a grand slam. Often, when the M’s were on TV, my dad would mute the television and tune the radio to KJR to listen to color commentary from Niehaus. His voice is unforgettable and etched in my brain, an echo of simpler times.

1 Giant Leap featuring Maxi Jazz, & Robbie Williams: “My Culture
In this collaboration with experimental British DJs, Maxi Jazz and Robbie Williams sing about lessons they learned from their fathers and the challenges they faced. While accepting the negative aspects of how they were raised, they both recognize the positive. Maxi Jazz raps about his distant dad “I wished he would hold me a little more than he did, but he told me my culture and how to live positive.” Meanwhile, it was Williams’ verse that reminded me of myself and my dreams to be a writer. “I'm the one who landed the pop star's job. I'm the one who you told look, don't touch. I'm the kid who wouldn't amount too much. I believe in the senses that I sound, I have always been too loud, won't you help me drown it out? And when I feel what I'm feeling is so real, I'm a massive spinnin' wheel, always digging in my heels. Now I got the faith.”

Mike Doughty: “The Idiot Kings
Life isn’t easy. Growing up sucks. Doughty gets this. He sings how he “could be condemned to Hell for every sin but littering.” That’s the musing to which anyone with a self-deprecating sense of humor could relate. Like me. He also admit an awkwardness around women that reminds me of the blunderings of my high school and young adult years. “I've seen half a zillion girls and haven't spoken to a single one of them.” Despite the recognition that he’s been playing cool for far too long, this song has a delightful and optimistic bend. Even on our worst days, it’s better to accept things are they way they are and declare it to be good.

Social Club featuring Chris Durso: “Viva La Misfit
This song was released log after I grew up, got married, had kids, started a career, and divorced. So it doesn’t bring me back to my childhood. However, if the adult me could play a song to help the youthful version of me, this would be it. The kid who was once bullied relentlessly needed to hear these words: The truth is, the reason why they're threatening you, the reason why they're lying to you, the reason why they're spending their time on you is because they're scared of you. It's because they know who you are, they know why you were created, they know that you have a plan for your life.” I know my purpose in this world much better these days, I often wish someone would have shared this message with me when I was younger.

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