Portrait of the Music Critic as a Young Man
Micah Welner

Oh man. When did my life become so complicated?

Not too many years ago, things were simple. I'd be up in my room, listening to Phish and getting serious headaches from incense. This would be followed by something from The White Album, or maybe Who's Next (of course with Baba O Riley on repeat, the rest of the record is way too un-Baba-O-Riley-like). With Weezer seemingly never coming back (and maybe they never should have), I was settling into my position as a Person Who Listens To Phish.

Much as I am reluctant to admit it now, I'm pretty sure I liked Phish's music enough to be one of "those people." I swear I never owned a Fisherman's hat, Birkenstocks or a Dave Matthews Band shirt. Although I did consider the Birkenstocks. Life was fine. I had some live show bootlegs. Not a lot, but enough to say I had some. And then something interesting happened.

The Talking Heads. Where did this band come from? Because I've never heard anything, ever, that I genuinely liked so much. I mean, fuck Billy Breathes, this Talking Heads was the genuine article, as far as I was concerned. So I got really into Talking Heads. Big deal? Maybe not from your cynical perspective, but at the time, yes. Because as far as I could see, not a single other person my age had ever heard them, or heard of them. This was COOL. I liked having a band that was my own. Who doesn't?

Who else out there once found a band that no one else knew about? You know who you are, and YOU LOVED IT. Admit it, when you discovered a band for the first time, it was magic, even if you found out later that (as with the Talking Heads) "everyone" likes them. For me, Talking Heads was just the beginning. They were my gateway to The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Television, The Buzzcocks and eventually The New York Dolls, T Rex and any other "now trendy to like cause it's old school" band. I liked the energy. It was a wake up call I needed. Shut the fuck up with the nonsense, Trey. Listen to THIIIIIIIIIIS!

I mean, sure, more people than I would have liked enjoyed these bands. But hey, there seemed to be some sort of organized mayhem to them. It's almost like this music had a - scene. Stage two in my musical education: it's about more than music.

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Photo from CBGB

July 2002

jay's head