Columns, Rocko's Travels

Rocko’s Travels – Time Travel

Do you know these days, when you don’t like to listen to new music and you just want to have something to rely on? Something that gives you good feelings and lets you think of better times? Yeah, I know how that sounds and to be completely honest, somehow, it is exactly how it sounds. “Happy Pills” aren’t enough sometimes and you need to create your own “Happy Home”.

Music can be very helpful to me and I think to a lot of other people as well. As I said, with the right music, there is some kind of security, it gives you a good feeling. I will give you some excamples, tell you some stories I connect to some songs, or the feeling they give me. That’s also the reason why I call this episode now “Time Travel”. Most of the music I listened to recently is from the 90s or early 00s or even much older and most of the songs aren’t some undergroundy Metal stuff, but some of the cheesiest and poppiest songs, you can think of. Of course, there are some things that let you foresee the way I went from there, including my love for cowbells you suckers. But while I listened to these songs full of memories, I started to think about all the differences in the way we get familiar with music today, and how we build up our taste of music. I would like to share with you my way of getting into music. And I’m interested in yours. I would be happy, if you share it with us and the other readers and followers.

Let’s start with my oldest memory concerning music, the one maybe responsible for my musical taste and explains the cowbell stuff. It was in the late 80s. There where two mix tapes from my dad. Both of them where full of Rock music from the late 60s, 70s and early 80s. I listened to these tapes since I was able to handle the tape deck on my own. So I started to listen to Jethro Tull, Ram Jam, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, but also The Dubliners and The Pogues. On one tape there where some songs from Queen and David Bowie as well. My dad put them on their, because these where bands my mother likes/liked. So while playing with my Lego Ian Anderson told me the story of “Aqualung” and I heard the “Locomotive Breath“, I got familiar with “Black Betty“, I knew why there was “Smoke on the Water” and what it means to feel “Paranoid“. And I tried to sing along with the songs, even if I don’t know any word in English back then. But that didn’t matter. Even today I think I don’t know some of the lyrics completely, because there are still these fragments in my head, where I follow my own personal misheard lyrics. So these mix tapes are my first memory, when I think of music I like, music I love and music that means something to me.

Later on, I started to grab some of the CDs my parents already had. There where a lot of cheesy compilations called Kuschelrock with lovesongs and ballads. I didn’t know the number now, but I remember the cover…it was number 6 from 1992. Some of the songs from these compilation are still songs I like to listen to today, such as “To Be With You” by Mr. Big, “Why” by Annie Lennox or “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” by George Michael & Elton John.

And then there was christmas 1994 and I got one of my first own CDs. It was the Bravo Hits – Best of 1994. Bravo is THE german youth-mag, started in 1956 already. Since 1992 they released some compilations with music for teeangers. The Best Of from 1994 was separated into two parts, disc one featured the most electric music and some HipHop. During that time the whole Eurodance-scene started and it was a big time for the Rave-scene, so you found songs like Marusha‘s “Over The Rainbow”, “Tears Don’t Lie” by Mark’Oh and also the first single by ScooterHyper, Hyper” or the Rednex with “Cotton Eye Joe” on it. Mark Wahlberg was Marky Mark back in 1994 and was featured in a song called “United”. Usually I would say, that the second disc with the Rock songs should be more important to me, but while writing this and read across the song list, I think it’s the compilation in it’s whole. “Saturday Night” by Whigfield was one of the songs you can’t get away from. Six years later, roundabout 2000, I started a basic course in dancing, yeah, that’s stuff you did back than and “Saturday Night” was an absolute standard for a Discofox… and it is still in 2019, as I get to know during the party of a big Dancing Convention in the hotel I work at. Fear of the Dark, no, I’m feared that somebody starts this song…but in the end, I think there still would be a little smile on my face. But don’t f***’n tell it to anybody.

The Best of 1994 made me to start to collect the Bravo Compilation and there where lots of surprises. Bravo Hits 11 was my second one and if you take a look on the second disc, there are some tracks I still love today and listen regularly to: “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me” by U2 from the Batman Forever soundtrack for example. The musicvideo was awesome. “A Girl Like You” by Edwyn Collins, is a real awesome song as well and I never heard anything else by Mr. Collins, but I’m sure you know it. Then there was a Punk-cover of Michael Jackson’sBillie Jean” by the German Punk band The Bates. I loved this one. Another real special song was “Ist es Wichtig?” by Selig, another German Rock band. On the Bravo Hits 12 you just need to take a look at the first five songs of the second disc. I still love all of them today…YEAH, I LOVE Oasis’sWonderwall” and even today I love singing alone, wherever and whenever I can. I think with “Where The Wild Roses Grow” by Nick Cave feat. Kylie Minogue my love for some melancholic music started and this song brought me to darker songs and lyrics and made me looking for it. I still feel pity for people, who think this is a romantic love song. Pure idiots. Okay, somehow it is, but that’s more special interests… 😉

Then there where my teenage years. After school I went to my granny, got a lunch there and spent some time on my homework, until my grandpa drove me home, or one of my parents picked me up. My grandparents had one room with a bed for guest, there was desk to work and there was an old stereo with some left vinyl from my aunt. Okay, to be honest, there was lot of crap, but there was one I really liked to listen to and that was Westernhagen‘s Halleluja. Westernhagen is a German singer and musician, who played and still plays some bluesy Rock songs and I liked this special flavour a lot. Another vinyl was another of these Kuschelrock compilations, but I’m not sure which one it was exactly. This is where my interest for vinyl started. My parents had vinyl as well, but back then I was too young, and they followed the CD-way completley. Today my father is in there with YouTube and AmazonMusic as well 😉

So I got more and more into music with harder guitars and/or melancholic, dark lyrics, I started to search for it, I needed more! I started looking for harder music, for faster music, for darker music. And I slowly started to go my way…it wasn’t that simple because I liked playing basketball and sometimes, it didn’t fit together, as you can think of…but that’s a little later and more a problem of the early 00s, when I started wearing leathercoats and evil black band-shirts and sometimes even some gothic bondage mens skirts in school. And yeah, you can play basketball in them. But first I need to confess, that my first ever self-bought album was Haddaway‘s Haddaway – The Album you know…the one with “What is Love” and “Life“. Common, I was 10 or 11, I guess you also bought some albums you never talk about, don’t you?

Another compilation I really admired was the Crossing All Over. Number 7 was the first I bought in 1999 or something. Just have a look at the tracklist, isn’t it great? Rammstein, Manson, Clawfinger, Prodigy, Vivid, Faith No More…a lot of great bands. I used these compilations to find new bands, and tried to get their albums in the LOCAL LIBRARY, to create my own mixtapes, and guess what, it worked very well.

During the 90s ,another important part was, of course, VIVA and MTV with their videoclips and concerts. In another column I already mentioned the WDR Rockpalast. I recorded a lot of concerts on video from there. Although during “my years” all the modern stuff started and yeah, I had a lot of MP3 in these days, like everyone else and Napster was running all day and night…but I also liked the old ways of getting to my music, like record a tape from a radio show.

Today I feel very comfortable while listening to songs via my AmazonMusic App or Youtube. It started some weeks ago, another author I know posted a YouTube-Playlist on Facebook with 99 alternative songs from the 90s, when I started to think about this topic, how we get to our music today. These songs made me feel good, during some “not so nice” days. Special thanks to Psychorizon for that, but as I said, they start to make me think and somehow I realized that all these old songs I had a deeper connection to than the new songs I hear today, for example via AmazonMusic or Youtube. I think the missing story or the work you put in to find new bands and/or music is the difference. It is too easy somehow to get to millions and millions of new songs you never heard before. Of course on one hand, it’s just beautiful, but on the other…in most cases, even if I liked the music, I don’t come back to the new albums, when I like to hear music. Most of the time I listen to the old stuff. And right at the moment, I need this old music, the feelings connected to them to feel good and comfortable. The new Korn was fine with me, because, yeah, its Korn, they sound the same since the 90s and that was nice.

My question is, do you know moments and times like these, when you just look for some kind of a secure base and found it in music you love from better times, that let you think of other stuff and stories, then the ones your head is filled up with? I would really like to read some comments here. How do you like Bravo Hits or any other compilations from the 90s? These kind of compilations are dead today, aren’t they? Would you like to start sharing mix tapes again? Or do we just share playlists today? What is your story? What was your way into music?

Greetings Rocko F. (and we all need more cowbell)

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