Edition #4 – The Rolling Stones Had Me Expelled From Class At 8 Years Old

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Excerpt from Alex’s SFCC exclusive blog. Read the full version here

I always had a very particular relationship with my father, to say the least. We rarely got along, nor were we on the same page about most of every possible subject… except for music. You see, I grew up in a “radio always on” type of family – from my mother being into Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and everything rock n roll, to my father who was into Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, CCR, Neil Young, Bowie, the Stones, Pink Floyd and everything having a blues influence in their sound. My first ever real father-and-son conversation came up when I was around 8 years old and told my parents at dinner that my teacher told us that the most amazing band in the music history was The Monkees and played us one of their albums in class. My father almost choked over his meat pie “WHAT?!? She said WHAT?!?” He looked at me and said: “Ok, come with me…. NOW!!!”

So, in the middle of dinner (I thought I would be punished for whatever reason), a big man took his son to the living room of their tiny little apartment to show him everything he needed to know about life. “The Rolling Stones and the nature of true rock music”. All that, as if I wasn’t a “different” kind of kid already. My father figured it was time for me to musically become a man. The years of innocence were over. No more “mom’s rock n roll fun songs”. It was time to drop the childhood curtain for me to see the world as it is. Some people have a fishing trip story, a first beer moment, an initiation to the reasons why you should like and hate whatever team from whatever sport, an introduction to literature, philosophy, poetry, beaux-art… even faith! But for my father, taking the time to explain what he believed was the most important thing could be summed up into “The Rolling Stones”.

Therefore, to show me the true nature of life, my father got what used to be a hidden collection of vinyl records from his personal favorite artists – from 7’ singles to gold collector editions. He took the time to explain the difference between an assembled part of good-looking people working in studio with engineers and producers (a.k.a The Monkees) from a band consisting of friends who grow into hating each other but who somehow understand – or not – that the sum of their parts would always be greater than what they would be able to create once on their own (here comes The Beatles according to my father). He told me that such pure energy drives the real artists to be way better than they can be when they are alone, that it’s not about the machine (I would only learn what it meant years later when I started to believe I was an artist, but that’s another story!) He added that music is about passion and what burns inside. It’s about the raw emotions, the deepest of all feelings.

My father must have played me records for what felt like hours, explaining the nature of sounds and the sensations it should translate to the people listening. He talked Sabbath, CCR, King Crimson, Pink Floyd (the Syd Barrett era), and Zeppelin (a lot…!) I learned he hated the likes of Elvis, to the point that it started an argument with my mother who, from the kitchen, told him to tone down about Elvis and even pushed the Beatles VS the Stones button saying the fab-four were way ahead of Jagger & Richards. My father escalated the argument by saying that Chuck Berry was the king of Rock N Roll, that Johnny Cash was the real and legitimate heartfelt outlaw, that Elvis was an untalented puppet created to have little girls cry, and so on. Just another epic family moment…! Than he explained that music isn’t about breaking stuff like The Who, but about breaking the rules and the institutions that govern them. Again, I’m about 8 years old, and my mother, still in the kitchen, is laughing and saying “You’ll regret telling him those things when he’ll be 14”. Turns out she was right, but sooner than she would have believed it!

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