I don't really know any Prince songs. I mean, I've heard some Prince songs, like Purple Rain, and Party like it's 1999 (I think that was the name). I haven't been deliberately avoiding Prince or anything, I watched his super bowl half time show a few years back, and I've caught the occasional song on the radio, but when my wife brought up some song about a Corvette awhile back, and I had no idea what she was talking about, she was shocked, obviously.
I was raised in a church environment where as far as I can remember, we were only allowed to listen to "Christian Music," or I suppose classical, and the like. My dad is a band director, after all. I remember when I got into rock music at the end of Jr. High. I mean, I was practically in high school when I started listening to rock, and that was the likes of Audio Adrenaline, D.C. Talk, The Supertones. Along with others, they were all marketed to kids and their moms in the Christian bookstores as "The Christian version of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones," or whatever. If you weren't raised in that world, you're probably saying, "who?" Your blank is exactly my experience in nearly every conversation about pop or rock music that wanders back into the 90s or earlier.
The 90s are when I started poking my head out of the Christian music bubble. Weezer's Blue Album was big for me. As was Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream, and since I'm confessing, I wore the crap out of that one Hootie and the Blowfish record. Those were all records I had to borrow though. My parents would not have approved of me spending my money on those, so when I bought records, I bought Jesus Freak instead of (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (Though I did borrow that one from a friend for awhile and couldn't turn it off). My other initiation point was through the mix tapes my friend would make for me. I'd fall asleep to Paranoid Android, and Marilyn Manson's cover of Sweet Dreams (are Made of This), and wake up in the middle of the night to Wonderwall. All little glimmers of light to a kid starved for something out there in a musical universe so vast he couldn't even begin to imagine it.
So here I am, 36 years old, born and raised in the United States, making rock, pop, and country music for all of my adult life, and I know nothing about Prince. He's not the only one. My knowledge of Bowie, Springsteen, Dylan? All pretty embarrassingly sparse. I suppose once I escaped the musical bubble, I emerged midstream and just floated on. I know Radiohead, Ryan Adams, Coldplay, Wilco, Kings of Leon, Arcade Fire, etc... And, while I definitely spent serious amounts of time with the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Petty, and some others, there's so much that should be basic knowledge to music fans of my age, that are instead just blank spots in my consciousness.
What to do? Well, if you know me, you know I'm excessively analytical. I often spend more time planning what to do than actually doing it. So of course, I'm going to involve a map. There's this pretty sweet one, and unless a reader recommends something better, that's where I'll start. I figure I'll start in the genre I've been claiming as my own - Folk Rock, and work my way out. And since they are thought of as the originators of the genre, it only makes sense to start on The Byrds, right? Here's where you can help. I don't want to spend April planning out how to get to know The Byrds. If you, the reader are willing, I would love to hear your suggestions for movies, books, or other stories about them. I'd love to hear if you have a favorite Byrds' song, or album. If you don't really know the Byrds either, feel free to get in on this. My goal is to write here periodically with updates on my own favorites, or interesting things I've picked up. Maybe at the end of the month we'll see if this has affected my song-writing at all, and meanwhile, those of you that already know it all can have the pleasure of chuckling to yourself as a man-child "discovers" art that's been around for 50 years.
That's all. What'ya got? Hit me with your favorite Byrds-related stuff. Maybe I can finally fill in some of these really glaring blank spots in my musical genealogy.