My courtship with recorded music occurred in two phases. The first was dominated by Elvis Presley. For reasons I can’t quite fathom, I latched on to Elvis when I saw a television ad for an Elvis calendar when I was five years old. I may have caught a bit of one of his movies some weekend afternoon as well. Whatever the exact catalyst, I asked for (and received) an Elvis record for my 6th or 7th birthday. If memory serves, the opening track was called “That’s All Right” and to say that it lit me up would be an understatement. What had been a strange curiosity became a full-on obsession.
Many a weekend my dad took me to a store in Penn Hills called Grants to buy a different Elvis “single.” “Hound Dog.” “Don’t Be Cruel.” “Return to Sender.” I’d rush home after school every day to rock on the edge of my bed and sing along with Elvis. Thanks to Elvis, I got my first guitar and thanks to Elvis, a desire to perform began to stir in me.
Cut to 9th grade. I shared a room with my older brother who was on a slightly different music-loving path, one I eventually caught up to. The record that sealed my conversion was Crosby, Stills & Nash – that first one where they are sitting on a couch on a front porch, I think. My previous Elvis obsession transferred directly onto “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” which became, in a way, my first class in songwriting. Damn. That song. The way it shifted from movement to movement. The exhilarating poetry of the lyrics. The tight yet soaring harmonies. The transcendence of the final shift. I was never the same.
That road splintered into dozens, hundreds, thousands more. CSN led to Neil Young who led to Jackson Brown who led back to David Crosby who steered me on over to Joni Mitchell. Brennan (my brother) didn’t love Bruce Springsteen, but he did (thankfully) get into “Nebraska,” so that secured that chunk of my inspiration-foundation. I inhaled all those records, all of that music, through my ears and my pores and directly into my bloodstream. It was my everything.
And that is what this song is paying homage to!