As you know, I am an editor for a Dark Culture magazine. A lot of people find it odd (but cool), and wonder how a pharmacist living in suburbia, USA ended up doing what I do. How did I even discover this music? It’s not a simple answer, and there was definitely a progression in my musical tastes over the years, which leads me to this post. I asked myself, “How did I get here?” I can break it down in a series of albums that actually changed my musical preferences, and I would be interested to see others do the same. Again, these aren’t albums that were just amazing, because there are plenty of those, but were actually life changing. Big difference.
Ozzy Ozbourne — Diary of Madman
My musical journey began at the tender age of ten. The year was 1982, and I was just introduced into the world of Dungeons & Dragons. The kid who taught me to play was four years my senior, and I idolized him. He was literally the coolest person I have ever met. On the night I created my first D & D character (an assassin if you are interested), Guy, which was his name, played two cassettes over and over again. They were “Diary of a Madman” and “Blizzard of Oz” by the iconic Ozzy Ozbourne. Suddenly, a whole new world of music was available to me. It was my first realization that there was more to music than what was played on the radio.
Although I would spend the next six years of my life being a die hard Ozzy fan, I do not have any of his songs on my playlists today. Tastes change. It is funny to me to see his songs played in car commercials these days. I remember being a young Catholic school student, and the nuns telling me I was going to burn in Hell for listening to his satanic music. Times change too. One further comment I have to make about Ozzy Ozbourne…my first day of second grade I noticed a kid with the letters O-Z-Z-Y written across his fingers. We instantly became friends because of it. Twenty two years later he would be the best man in my wedding, as I was the best man in his.
November’s Coming Fire — Samhain
The times were changing. Glam metal was becoming popular, and I have to say, it was not my thing. Bands like Bon Jovi and Poison dominated MTV, and I tolerated it at best. There were those exceptions like Guns N Roses and Metallica that I still loved, but I needed something more out of my music. Then it happened…a new friend introduced me to the works of Glenn Danzig. At the time, he had just released his first solo album, but was more known for his work with the Misfits. It was his in-between band Samhain that really caught my attention.
For me, Glenn Danzig represented a music much darker than I was used to. I mean sure, Metallica was heavy and dark, but Danzig was a different animal. If you are a fan, you know what I mean. I would spend the next decade of my life being the biggest Danzig fan I knew. I loved everything he did, and listened to his various works constantly. My favorite album out of his vast collection is “November’s Coming Fire” by his least known group Samhain. It is a perfect blend of that Misfit’s punk style growing into his eventual metal sound. I still consider it one of the greatest CDs of all time, and yes…it is on my iPhone playlist.
Jagged Little Pill — Alanis Morissette
In my lifetime, I have never heard a song that so instantly affected me like “You Oughta Know” did. From the very first listen, I said, “This is probably the greatest song ever written.” I meant it. The song was so edgy, so real, and I think almost anyone could relate to what Alanis was singing about. There was so much personal anguish and emotion put into that song, and it made me realize how emotionally deep music could be.
“Jagged Little Pill” is one of those truly great albums front to back. For me, it’s a top three CD of all-time, if not number one. Songs like “Forgiven” and “Right Through You” further cemented my belief that Alanis represented something different than what was currently available. She spoke from the heart, spoke out about topics few would tackle, and did it bluntly in a language people could relate to. By the time her second CD, “Supposed Former Infatuation Junky,” was released in 1998, a lifetime love of testosterone driven metal and punk music was conquered by the female voice of Alanis Morissette. Suddenly, artists like Sophie B. Hawkins, Tori Amos, and Paula Cole started to dominate my mix tapes. Alanis is still one of my favorite artists today.
If I may indulge you with one song off of “Jagged Little Pill”, it would be “Forgiven”. It is a perfect example of everything I have stated about Alanis Morissette in this blog. I am choosing this song only because I am assuming everyone is familiar with “You Oughta Know”. If not, I suggest jumping over to YouTube real quick and giving it a listen.
Mira — Self-titled
The year was 2009, and Twilight was all the rage. I watched the first movie in the comfort of my living room, and was disgusted by it. I thought the entire series was a disgrace to the vampire genre, and was quickly trying to unravel everything Anne Rice had accomplished. True Blood was in it’s second season, and already moving towards the insanely ridiculous. I decided I needed to write my own vampire novel, and tell the story in a gritty urban Gothic way that I saw the genre in my mind. And so it began….
I searched for music that would reflect the images in my mind and would inspire me to write the novel I wished. I fell into the ethereal. Bands like This Mortal Coil and Dead Can Dance would keep me company night after night. There was no single band, however, I loved more than Mira. I often talk about “mood music”, and their self-titled album is the epitome of it my mind. They are so dark and melancholy. So different from what I previously listened to. So perfect. Although this CD was originally released in 2000, my discovery of it happened nine years later, and unfortunately, they had already disbanded. It’s still a staple on my playlists, and very few songs move me as much as “Blister” or this perfect gem…”Alone.”
Funhouse — P!nk
My musical tastes were rapidly changing, or should I say, solidifying. I began discovering so much music I have never heard before. Then again, there was P!nk. I know she is a Pop musician, but her CD “Funhouse” was so extremely dark in nature. I was a long time fan, but “Funhouse” changed me. No longer would I declare Alanis Morissette was my favorite musician. In fact, “Funhouse” was the greatest CD front to back I have heard since “Jagged Little Pill”. There was so much emotion and despair, coupled with a sense of liberation. Amazing.
“Sober,” to this day, remains my single favorite song of all time. “Please Don’t Leave Me” is right up there. “Ave Mary A” I can listen to over and over. This CD just blows me away. I don’t remember listening to many male musicians after this CD except for a song here and there. I understood the female voice appealed to me, and could deliver those haunting vocals I have always loved. I knew my friends would find it odd, but I deleted most of the male singers from my playlists. It was created for me after all, and reflected what I wanted to hear.
Flicker — Ayria
The final CD that I consider life-changing I discovered roughly around the same time as the last two. I downloaded the song “Disease” and fell in love. I don’t remember how I found the song, and I hadn’t heard much industrial before outside of Nine Inch Nails (who I liked), but this song was completely different. I delved into Ayria’s discography, but was still listening to Mira and “Funhouse” all of the time. I downloaded “Flicker,” and the transition to what I listen to now begun. Ayria hit a nerve, and filled a void in my psyche I didn’t know existed. It is her music that lead me to discovering artists like Ego Likeness, The Birthday Massacre, and Emilie Autumn, who are my favorites today.
I love Ayria’s upbeat songs, but it was the slower ones that got me on this CD. “Pink Dress”, “St. Edith”. and “Lovely Day” are probably my most played songs by Ayria. “My Revenge on the World” is right there to. If it wasn’t for Ayria, I might not be listening to what I do today. Then again, I may have eventually found it anyways. Who knows. Who cares. But these were the six CD’s that shaped my musical tastes.
I’ll leave you with one more song…one of my all time favorites, and rivals “Alone” by Mira as the single greatest melancholy song in my mind of all time…”Lovely Day” by Ayria.