What is a band that has gotten me through some tough times?
I’m not really a music person. My parents weren’t big into music so as a kid, I didn’t really listen to the radio until I got into high school. For the most part, music is useful when it’s catchy and shallow so that you can dance without paying any attention to it. There are very few songs that speak to me, and even fewer bands that have ever affected my life in any capacity. These are those exceptions:
Toad The Wet Sprocket’s “Fear” and Nine Inch Nails’s “Pretty Hate Machine” were two albums that seemed to speak to my soul when I first heard them at the age of 14. I never found another TTWS album to be nearly as good as their first studio one, but Trent Reznor’s love ballads convinced me to track down every single “Halo” album that he’d ever created. To this day, I have to avoid rolling my eyes at people who discovered NIN with “Closer”, because his earlier music was rawer and more evocative than anything he’s done since.
As I grew older, I found myself drawn to emotionally damaged musicians like Sinead O’Connor. Her sophomore album still gives me chills. Even young artists who are able to tell stories of love lost and broken hearts touch a chord with me – both of Taylor Swift’s albums are on constant replay in my house. I think that as a romantic, I identify with the female protagonists in many of these scenarios.
But out of these bands that have affected me, a list that includes U2, Billy Joel, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Cyndi Lauper, there is only one that I would say really affected me to any great degree. I heard his first album when I was 8 years old, and I’ve purchased every album he’s made to this date. I saw him in concert for the first time this summer, and it was everything I could possibly imagine, and more. His imagination, intelligence, creativity, and approachability has inspired me on many occasions. My respect for his ability to perform his craft without lowering his standards or opening himself up to the lowest common denominator increases every time I hear his music.
I’m talking, of course, about “Weird Al” Yankovic. Lest you think I’m joking, I’ll assure you that I’m completely serious. The man is a lyrical genius – it takes tremendous skill to be able to create parodies across so many disparate genres while also creating original songs that “feel” like songs you know and love. He never fails to make me laugh, and I don’t think I stopped smiling for hours after seeing him perform live.