Music of my Life (part 1)

8 August 2022 • Personal

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I was talking with a group of friends in our Discord this past weekend, and a great prompt came up. “Share 3 songs that you feel like summarize your musical preferences/your journey through discovering new styles of music.”

Y’all realize how hard it is to narrow that prompt down to just three songs? Cripes.

Anyway, I fulfilled the prompt, but a lot of us were talking about our honorable mentions. This led me down a rabbit hole of figuring out what were my personal defining songs from my life, and now… well, it turned into 3 blog posts.


Prior to high school, I listened to a ton of different stuff. My first 3 albums that I ever owned were (lol in advance) Spice Girls - Spice, Hanson - Middle of Nowhere, and the Mortal Kombat Annihilation soundtrack. I then dabbled with a lot of Creed and other Christian-adjacent bands as I learned to play drums, bass, and guitar over the years. But none of that was really what I considered “formative” - most of those bands I’d heard on the radio, or was convinced by my mom to buy the CDs. Mortal Kombat was an out of the blue album purchase for me - I’d played the video games in the arcades, but didn’t even see the movie until I was in my 20s. I was pretty much relying on other people’s suggestions of what music to listen to until 1999/2000, when I was 12-13.

Jr. High, High School, & Early College (1999 - 2007)

Around 99/2000, I finally started to break out of the shell of “listen to music my parents recommend”, and found things via friends that I really enjoyed. I’ve included a Spotify playlist of 12 songs from that time that I loved/continue to love today, and either where I can picture myself listening to the song, or why I love it so much. (I’m including a Spotify playlist here, but I’ll link every song on YouTube as well.)

Deftones - My Own Summer (Shove It) - My cousin Cory has always been a very gifted drummer and musician, and I looked up to him a lot. Always loved going over to his house as a kid and playing drums (he’s now got his Masters in Jazz Studies). I still remember him playing Rage Against The Machine and Deftones for me as a “check this out” sort of deal, and opening my eyes to a new world of music.

Linkin Park - Krwlng - I still remember throwing on Hybrid Theory for the first time on a way back from some church camp my friend and I went to, and being blown away. The emotion I felt from Chester’s vocals and the band’s instrumentation gripped me and changed my perception on a lot of things. While HT and Meteora continue to be amazing albums, Reanimation has some absolutely incredible remixes, and the harmonies on Krwlng make the original song 300% better.

Norma Jean - Creating Something Out Of Nothing, Only To Destroy It - There was a concert venue just down the street from where I grew up called The Reverb. It was a dimly lit bar on the 2nd floor above some Main Street businesses. I’d be down there nearly once a week, going to shows of my friend’s bands, or other bands that came through. We had a pretty robust straight-edge/hardcore scene (x319x), and I still remember how energetic and chaotic the Norma Jean show I went to was. An absolutely incredible memory.

Beloved - Death to Traitors - I latched on to Beloved as one of my favorite hardcore bands, simply because they brought more melodic structure to their music. They played a show at the local rec center that was a block from my house, and it was nuts seeing kids running all over, playing basketball or throwing a football, while this band set up in the corner and just absolutely ripped.

Anberlin - Ready Fuels - I don’t remember exactly how I discovered Anberlin, but this was their very first track off their first album, and it spawned a nearly 2 decades long infatuation with this band. I spent many an afternoon in my room playing along to this album on my guitar and bass.

Billy Music - Stereofoam - A band that came through my hometown and played a show, and then practically dropped off the face of the planet. I would love to get a group of friends together and cover this whole album top to bottom. Stereofoam is in my top 10 songs of all time.

Incubus - Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song) - My friend Steve LOVED Incubus. Their mainstream releases were all really good, but I fell in love with their super early stuff (Fungus Amongus and S.C.I.E.N.C.E.). This is a song we’d casually drop while playing pep band gigs (along with Are You In? from Morning View).

Thursday - War All The Time - Oh yeah, I definitely had an emo phase that I went through. I distinctly remember listening to this album while sitting at my desk waiting for 1st period Trig to start. This album, plus Full Collapse, were on frequent rotation for me.

Underoath - Down, Set, Go - Underoath is a band that I still continue to listen to on repeat to this day. Soaring melodies, heavy hitting riffs… this band had everything I wanted back in the day, and their music still resonates today. I moshed right alongside a bunch of youths when I saw them live a few years ago.

Mae - Suspension - One of those churchy-adjacent bands that I listened to a lot of, Mae’s music has always been this melodic punky vibe that I seem to click with. The main guitar riff was one that I still play to this day when I pick up a guitar.

Relient K - Devestation and Reform - Exact same as Suspension above, with the only difference being that I’m in the music video for this song.

MUTEMATH - Typical - My college girlfriend and I went to go see The Fray play at her college. Wasn’t a fan, but it was live music, so why not? MUTEMATH opened for them, and absolutely blew them out of the water. Such an incredible performance, I was completely hyped and energized. Bought the t-shirts, the CDs, everything. God, that was such a good show.

So there we have it. Music of my formative years, ages 12 to 20. Anything you love or vibe with? I’d love to hear about it.