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Entry date: 3-13-2022 - early music history for little tom - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Interlude in our Hillbilly Devilspeak story as it is a long one. I’d love to think some of you are fascinated, but I’m guessing only those of us who were in the band feel that way. I do want to talk about music, though, today.

As far back as when people in my life called me "Little Tom," I loved music from as far back as I can remember. My mom and dad are music fans and growing up, a lot the memories I have are associated with music. I have a few memories of the house we all shared on Encanto, just east of 43rd avenue and my parents (probably more my dad, but who knows) had a room set up just off the living room with their stereo in there. It had crazy 70’s wallpaper, too.

My dad would make compilation recordings on eight track tapes, and we would listen to them whenever we went on road trips. He is a big Doors fan, so I would tell people the Doors were my favorite band, too, growing up because we listened to them a lot. I have always liked singing along with Jim Morrison. Those guys certainly have a special place in my heart, and it is also a way I feel really connected with my dad.

Dad’s album collection was pretty awesome, as I think back on it. Other favorites of mine that he would encourage me to listen to or make sure he had some of their music on his mix tapes were ELO, Little River Band, and Hoyt Axton. There were times when each of those acts were my favorite. “The Diary of Horace Wimp” is still a song I love by ELO, although I’ve come to accept what a great band they were. During my early punk rock days, I probably would not have admitted I was a fan of theirs, but I was.

Little River Band has not aged as well, in my book, but certain songs still can take me back to being under 10 years old. It feels like we listened to Diamantina Cocktail and Sleeper Catcher a lot. It’s funny how that era of music is just ingrained in me. I don’t remember listening to a lot of Supertramp with my parents, but perhaps I did. I think my dad had at least one of their records. They were the biggest band in the world for a short time in the late 1970s, so who knows, but I love them. They are total comfort music for me. One of my favorite interviews ever was with Roger Hodgson of Supertramp. He was totally cool.

Hoyt Axton, who many of you may remember from his role as the dad in Gremlins, is a wonderful song writer. I particularly love his song, “Jealous Man.” I found a vinyl of his with that song on it a few years ago and I enjoy listening to it when I can. “You got the knife; I got the gun. C’mon boy we’re going to have a little fun. I’m a jealous man. I’d die for love, love, love. I don’t care what you’ve been told, my old lady ain’t yours to hold. That’s for me, sweet harmony. I’m a Jealous man.” Those are great lyrics.

Like most of us who were alive and had an ear for music, I was bitten by the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack bug. I’m pretty sure I was blissfully unaware of the BeeGees before then, but it was a fun record to listen to in the car on a drive. I especially liked Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth of Beethoven.” That was kind of my jam for a while, too.

The ultimate record, though, for me as a young dude was Harry Nilsson’s The Point. My dad had this on vinyl, and it was my absolute favorite. I know that record by heart and grew, as an adult, to love Nilsson’s work outside of this record, too. The Point tells the story of Oblio who was an outsider in his own land and even in his own home. The only friend he had was his dog, Arrow, and the story really resonated with me as an only child. I could get misty then, listening to and singing along with “Me and My Arrow” and I still can today.

I also love the song, “Thing About Your Troubles.” It’s gotten me through some tough times in my life. Nilsson really captured what it was like to feel like you are all alone on this record, even though it does end with a happy ending for Oblio. I’ve tried to share it with my own kids over the years, but it didn’t resonate with them the way it did with me. I wrote a piece about this a few years back and read it for an audience at Valley Bar. It was a lot of fun.

As I got a little older, I started paying more attention to the radio. I made a point to listen to the Dr. Demento show every Sunday night before I fell asleep. I don’t remember which station carried it here locally, maybe KUPD, but it was a lot of fun. I also fell in love with “My Sharona” by the Knack. This was the first 7” I ever bought for myself, at least one that didn’t come with a comic book. I had a few comic books that came with a 7” record you could listen to while you read the book. There was a GI Joe one, a Captain America, and one about werewolves.

I can clearly see the record section at Smitty’s on Cave Creek and Hatcher. I would look through the records and occasionally, my dad would let me pick one out. The first one I got was “My Sharona” as mentioned, and I got to go see them at the Arizona State Fair in 1979. It was my first real concert and I loved it. I was hooked. I remember being blown away by the scene there. I’m thankful my dad was a good sport about it. I’m guessing the Knack were not his idea of a good time.

From there, things got more interesting.

See you tomorrow.

I can be visually creative.

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