I don’t know how old I was when I fell in love with music, but I was young. I don’t remember a time when there was not music in my house. As a child I heard a lot of the Beatles and Beach Boys, Elvis and Neil Diamond. I remember driving on winter days with my Dad, heater cranked up, windows down rocking out to Roy Orbison. In second grade my favorite aunt took me to see the first concert I chose to go to on my own – The Stray Cats. I was certain at the young age of seven that I would grow up to marry Brian Setzer. I blame him for my undeniable attraction to musicians. It is clearly his fault that I grew up to marry a man who sings and plays guitar. I won’t even mention the fact that they both have killer hair and to die for eyes.
Almost every memory I have in life has a song or a band attached to it. I remember the Christmas I got my first bike whenever I hear “Surfin’ Safari” and the time I was brought home at 3 am by the police when I hear the Talking Heads. Violent Femmes remind me of dropping in on a half pipe on my hot pink Steve Caballero board, eating the ramp and bleeding all over my favorite Descendents t-shirt. “Jesus Saves” by Slayer reminds me of getting caught skipping school as a sophomore and Ministry brings me back to my senior prom. My life has always had it’s own soundtrack running behind the scenes.
My favorite music has always been fast, loud and angry. Even as a kid I couldn’t stomach pop music. I didn’t want to hear vapid lyrics about dancing and falling in love. I wanted substance. By the time I was a teenager I wanted to scream about social injustice and being marginalized. I was drawn to the music that expressed how I was feeling. I knew I was different from my peers by the time I was eight years old. I rode a motorcycle and performed daredevil tricks on my banana yellow Schwin. I wore muscle shirts and jeans instead of polos and cardigans like my classmates. My rejection of all things mainstream became more fierce as my teenage years approached. This is when I began my life long love affair with punk rock.
Punk has been compared to the mafia, in that once you are in, you are in for life. It’s not a genre or style, it’s something that seeps into your bones and becomes part of your very being. To me it is like a religion. Listening to Black Flag gives me the same sense of belonging as reading the Bible or listening to a lecture by the Dalai Lama. My places of worship are St. Andrew’s Hall and the Magic Stick watching Negative Approach or Refused. The difference is that you leave these holy grounds sweaty and possibly with a new t-shirt that smells vaguely like dirt and gasoline.
I spent quite a few years trying to be something that didn’t suit me. I will never do that again. I had forgotten for awhile that I am and will always be a punk rock kid deep down in my soul. I will never really fit in with the people around me and that is okay. I am who I am because somewhere long ago I became aware that being myself was more important than fitting in. Believing in myself has always been all I have ever needed. I don’t need anyone else’s approval.
I am watching my daughter learn these lessons today. She told her Dad yesterday that the kids in school think she is weird and they just look at her when she talks about the things she does at home, mouths agape. He told her that one day she will come to appreciate all of the things we do at home, from jamming to punk rock in the basement to sitting around creating art together. We are a little weird and there is nothing that’s going to change that. That’s okay. One day she is going to look back at our time together in the same way I look back at jumping on a motorcycle at three years old with my Dad and picking up a skateboard at thirteen. One day punk rock is going to seep into her bones too and she will remember the times we took her to the Warped tour and to see the Interrupters. I have no doubt that one day she is going to do great things and that starts with being herself no matter what anyone else thinks.