Which song changed your outlook on music / sound?

After my last thread (Popular / Hit songs with bad mixing) - some emotions ran high. Therefore, I thought I would go with a positive question. Which song rocked your world? That is, which song, when you heard it changed the way you listened to music or sound in general?

I’ll go first. Mid 80’s, me as a pre teenager got a present from my favourite uncle of a cheap Walkman clone that had an FM Radio built in. We didn’t actually have a stereo in the house, just mono tape recorders. So, every night I would pretend to sleep and listen to an hour or so of Capital Radio London which had some amazing DJ’s at night. This one DJ called Richard Allinson would present the night time program and would play “Number one this week in 19…” and then would proceed to play the number one hit from that year.

One of the first nights I decided to listen to the radio happened to be the week that Bohemian Rhapsody was number one. I’d never heard this song, or even heard of it. And there I was, listening to stereo sound for the first time in my life, when the “mama mia” section comes on… Good heavens. I think it melted parts of my brain. I think I was actually frightened while I was listening to it, because it woke up parts of my brain I didn’t know I had! I can remember the next day just asking my dad - why are there different sounds in each ear, and was the radio broken on my walkman… I must have sounded hilarious. That was the day that music actually started to move me, and I think the day I became obsessed with it!


Adam & the Ants single - Kings of the wild frontier.

I was 10 years old, well aware of contemporary pop but already getting intrigued by “other” music via my folks (Simon & Garfunkel, Carpenters etc) but this blew my mind. The tribal rhythm (two drummers!) the art-punk hint of aggression - but still pop really. It was my first indication of the possibilities beyond conventional sounds,song structures etc.

A few years later, Killing Joke offered a big dollop of serious dissonance into the mix and off I went on my real explorations :grin:


That is a great story!!

I have a Bo Rhap story that is not quite the same, but the song has deep meaning for me for other reasons. The following is from the eulogy I delivered at my Mother’s funeral in May of 2013.

"Mom loved music. For me personally, this was something we shared together on a very intimate level. From the time I was very young and just starting to get deeply into music, she would take the time to sit with me and listen to songs and sometimes whole albums of music that I found compelling. Never mind that it was as far from her regular tastes as possible, she would give it a full and attentive listen, because she could see that the music, and her listening to it, meant a lot to me. Later, after I’d developed my ability to play guitar and our “guitar sessions” got going when family got together… her deep enjoyment of our playing and singing was yet another strong reinforcement of the profound bond she shared with me.

“There is one day I’ll always remember of us listening to music together. It was early 1976, and I was almost sixteen. I was very taken with the new album by the band Queen called A Night at the Opera, which contained the now-classic Bohemian Rhapsody. “Mom,” I said, “you’ve GOT to listen to this song.” I put on the vinyl album, cranked it up loud, and we sat and listened. “Mama, just killed a man… put my gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he’s dead. Mama, life had just begun, but now I’ve gone and thrown it all away. Mama, didn’t mean to make you cry, if I’m not back again this time tomorrow, carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters…” I looked over at her, and there were tears rolling down her face. This was the one time in all my life I saw her cry, not when Dad died, not when her aunts Chris or Rose died, but listening with me to Bohemian Rhapsody.”

So yeah, Bo Rhap was formative for me too.

Two other songs totally galvanized me: “I Feel Fine” by the Beatles, which I first heard in 1966, and “Black Dog” by Led Zep, which I first heard in '71. The former was what put guitar into my consciousness for the first time, and the latter was what made me say “I have GOT to learn to play the guitar!”

In terms of just pure sound, the things that changed my way of thinking were “Original Master” vinyl records produced by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. These included Waiting for Columbus, Little Feat’s legendary live album; American Beauty by the Grateful Dead (one of only two Dead albums I ever owned); and Abraxas by Santana. My turntable and stereo in those days (late 1970s) was pretty good, although not audiophile high-end, but the difference in sound from these records was just astonishing. They were what started my journey of serious audio appreciation.


@Firedance - Good lord! That really takes me back! There is something really unique about that sound, from early 80’s in England. Those drums are fantastic!

Oh, Killing Joke… What a band!

1 Like

You sir are a damn audio pervert!


I’ll try to not write an auto-biography here, but it’s an appealing topic! As a kid I was listening to Top 40 on the radio as I didn’t know much better (even though my dad had been a jazz musician in college … I was named after Stan Kenton). When Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” made it onto the radio, I was blown away! Around the same time, a friend played me his brother’s vinyl of AC Killer, the song “Be My Lover”. Another aha moment. It took a few more years for me to get it though, when I got turned on to the local Rock radio station and heard KISS “Rock and Roll all Night”. After that was the Bo Rhap awakening. My tastes progressively got into harder Rock as it emerged. Judas Priest’s “Victim of Changes” (Sad Wings of Destiny) was huge, and a bit later “Delivering the Goods” (Hell Bent for Leather). Then it was Van Halen and “Eruption”. EVH probably influenced me a lot more than Jimi Hendrix.

Oh, was this supposed be only [U]one[/U] song that changed my outlook? Oops. :blush:


I love Black Dog! Killer Zeppelin tune!

1 Like

Eddie is unrivaled. Those first 4 or 5 Van Halen records were epic. Each member of that band had their own unique sound.

1 Like

@Chordwainer - sorry to hear about your mother - but that story just illustrates I think why we are all striving to make music sound the way it should. My parents wouldn’t let me listen to “English” music when I was younger (I’m Indian by descent), so I grew up listening purely to classical indian and cinema music. When I finally got into my own music (Duran Duran(!)) they were horrified. To have your mother listening to music that you liked as a way of sharing something with you… that’s just beautiful man.


It can be more than one song! I broke up with a girlfriend when I was 15 or so - broke my heart. Went to the local library to get a cassette of music as EVERYTHING I owned reminded me of her. So, I went browsing through the cassettes looking for a cool cover, and there’s VH written in cool chromey lettering. It was rewound to the start of side 2, so I popped it into my walkman for the walk home. I didn’t want to waste the battery rewinding it to the start of side 1, so started on side 2. First song = Light up the Sky. I literally was just stood still on the road and just listened to that song. I was 100% rock after that. A few months later I had traded my classical guitar for an electric!


[quote=“madpsychot, post:9, topic:882”]
sorry to hear about your mother … that’s just beautiful man.[/quote]

Thank you sir! Don’t be sorry. My Mom lived to 90 years of age, and had a full, rich, rewarding life. Her final years were spent living with my eldest sister and her husband in the hills above Santa Barbara, California, for my money the absolute best climate on Earth, and the view out her bedroom french doors was of rolling hills down to the Pacific Ocean. Breathtaking sunsets just about every night. She was cared for lovingly by her own family in her final time, and lived to see all her children grow to be successful. We should all be so lucky. I was able to be with her for part of her last days, and we left nothing unsaid, and nothing unfelt. I wrote her a song when we knew she was dying, and got to play her my recording of it on my last visit, and she loved it. Her funeral was a celebration of her life, and there was more laughter than tears during the eulogy I delivered on behalf of all my family (I was the only one to speak during the ceremony). My special relationship with both of my parents is just one of the VERY many ways I have been a lucky, lucky man all my life.

And I treasure beyond words the fact that both of my parents and I shared the bond of music. One of my greatest accomplishments was to get my Dad to stop listening to elevator music and muzak in the mid-1970s and start listening to much tastier fare. He became a huge fan of Chet Atkins, Mark Knopfler, Little Feat, Keith Jarrett, Diana Krall, Emmylou Harris, and many more. He and I also shared many musical memories together, of sitting quietly listening to album after album while working crossword puzzles and sharing snacks. You are quite right-- it is beautiful, and I think of those memories very, very often. I am so, so lucky.


I was working at an audio store, selling equipment. I was lucky that it was a high end shop, selling Marantz, Nakamichi, Crown and Klipsch to name a few. We were always looking for new and interesting music to demo the products abilities. The owner picked up the new Film and the BBs “Tricycle” album. The story on it was it was one of the first digitally recorded album and the second to be pressed to disc. It was suppose to be a direct to disc album (which means that they played the whole album side straight through with no over dubs).

Any who, we put the album on the best system we had at the time ( Marantz component system, Thorens turntable and Klipschorns) and turned it up. It was a moment I will never forget. The stunning realism and dynamics of that work is, to this day, a standard I use to check my work. If you have not hear it, get it.

1 Like

I had a similarish experience, in 1996 or thereabouts I went to the recently opened Euro Disney. I ended up at a showing of Michael Jackson’s Captain EO. The little screening room / cinema was kitted out with some beautiful speakers, in a kind of total immersion sound. During the film, Another Part of Me is played. When that song came on (which to be fair used to be one of my least favourite songs on Bad) I couldn’t believe my ears. I could hear each instrument, distinctly and perfectly. It was the first time I think I’d heard music the way the artist / producer intended it to be heard. Instantly changed my perception of sounds. To this day it’s the first song I play on a new system to test it out.

1 Like

Thanks for sharing this with us!
I would find it very difficult to select one song in my formative years. But your story triggered something in me: my mother died in a car crash when I was 3. She was very musical, singer in a jazz band and such. I obviously inherited my feeling for music from her. I was lucky in getting a replacement mom about a year later, she really tried het best to be a perfect mother. But there was one thing she couldn’t do because she is about as musical as the rear end of a cow (Dutch saying or at least her saying - I can only concur…). So I guess my favourite song is the one I didn’t get to share with my mom.
There is a related story there too. There’s an Irish singer songwriter, probably not very well known in the States called Luca Bloom. He lost his father when he was 3 and wrote a song called “Man is in me”. For some reason het didn’t call it “The man is in me”, even though that is exactly what he sings in the refrain (maybe got lost in the printing). I loved the song from the first time I heard it but wasn’t paying much attention to the lyrics. Until I finally got it. He’s saying: I’ve lost my father, but he lives on in me. That probably hit me at a deeper level than any other song ever had. Of course I understood this intellectually (hey I’m a biologist) but only then did I really feel it. It was like she suddenly became a real part of my life again. Anyway that’s my interpretation of his song, and I soon wrote my version called “DNA mama” which has more or less the same message, here goes:

Ice on the road
The Land Rover turned over
Your life it just ended in a ditch by the road

You were so young
Much too young
I’m now far older than you were that day

I can’t remember what happened precisely
It’s a story of someone,
Somewhere, sometime far away

But your DNA mama is not just a concept
I feel the rhythm as you live on in me
You had these genes and made the best of it
Now it’s my turn, and my kids and so on

I don’t believe
There’s a god up in heaven
We’re only here for a while and that’s all

Yet there’s this feeling
This nagging feeling
That all is connected in some fundamental way

It was a song that made the connection
A song about someone
Somewhere, sometime far away


Great story Evert… very poignant. I am a big Luka Bloom fan! Love his simple style and that big fat chorus effect he puts on his acoustic. Nice to meet another who’s even heard of him… :smile:

I sense a paradox there …

I think fro me it was never a song, I was listening to records as young as I can remember form my parents record collection and my brother and I would fight over who got the headphones. We were listening to Beach Boys, Buddy Holly, early rock and roll. I always loved upbeat and good melodic types of songs. I guess when I heard AC/DC for the first time or really anything that had that heavier distorted guitar that the 50/60s were over for me. Then in 1984 I got to see Black Flag. That was it no turning back and I could never listen to regular radio ever again. It wasn’t a particular song for me it was the show, the energy, the chaos. I think we all know that 80’s punk rock was some of the worst music recording in history, yet it was bigger than that. The thing that made that great was that it didn’t matter about the recording as long as the songs were good. The Descendents are a huge part of my childhood and adult life. Every song is a story and lesson that I understood and as they grew so did I. Its pretty rare to find something like that in music, to travel with your entire life. Luckily the 90s gave way to better recordings in this scene and pushed the expectations of small studios to compete with the big ones.

1 Like

I’m actually with you there - sometimes the “sound” of different music is enough for you realise that you have been missing something in your musical soul! I remember staying up late during 92, when the BBC in England were broadcasting the Guitar Legends concerts from Seville. I had waited weeks to listen to Steve Vai, who I was obsessed with at the time. But onto the stage walked Joe Satriani, and he blasted his way through Satch Boogie, and instantly my life was complete. I can’t explain what it was, what sound captured me or what was going on, I think I just spent the next 10 years of my life studying the music of Satriani like a religion!

I remember that! I was living in Bristol, UK, at the time, doing my first postdoc. I didn’t catch but a little of it, and the one that I remember most was Robbie Robertson. I’d never seen him doing his own stuff, the only live performance of his I’d seen was the Last Waltz film about The Band. This was not long after his second solo album, Storyville, had come out, and the music was amazing. Robbie already couldn’t sing live for shit by then, but that didn’t matter to me…

Man, I had not thought about that memory in YEARS. Thanks for bringing that BBC thing up!

My pleasure! Checking it out, it was actually in 91 in preparation for the World Expo in 92. I remember catching that Steve Vai would be playing in Seville, and me trying to work out how I could get to Seville to see him. In the end I couldn’t afford it, so I was over the moon when the BBC would be broadcasting it late night. For anyone who’s interested, the Seville concerts were quite unique, because they were a mix of some of the greatest guitarists of the day playing on the same stage. 5 nights consisting of

Blues Night
Fusion Night
Experimental Night
Folk Rock Night
Hard Rock Night

A lot of these are on YouTube now, in glorious VHS quality with sound to match.

For the fusion night, there’s a version of Bolero by Larry Coryell that might just melt your ear drums…

1 Like