GETTING MORE TALE #761: Gimme Some Reggae!
Like many things, I was first exposed to reggae music as a child. And like many things I was exposed to as a child, Catholic school did not approve!
It was grade six, the same year I discovered Quiet Riot and Van Halen. The ironic thing was first hearing reggae in class. There was a film we were watching, the details of which are now lost. Most likely religious in nature. The music might not even have been specifically reggae. It was Caribbean music of some sort, and I remember steel drums, but what I remember most was the teacher’s comment. A few kids mentioned that they liked the music in the film (I was one). The teacher responded, “The music was fine, but that kind of music is usually about drugs.”
She kind of put a wet blanket over it. I felt deflated.
At home, I asked my mom if this was true. “Some is,” she said. “Some.” The door was left wide open. My mom was good to me.
The following school year, MuchMusic debuted on Canadian television. It began as a pay TV channel, but we had it as part of a package including movie and sports channels. We had to talk our parents into getting it, but the fact that there was a package with sports made it easier. My mom could watch more Blue Jays, at least when my sister and I weren’t hogging the TV with music videos.
In 1984, MuchMusic played music videos and nothing but. Now it’s the opposite. In 1984, there weren’t many music videos to choose from. There are two specific videos that I remember Much playing in regular rotation right from the beginning. They were “Voodoo Chile” by Jimi Hendrix and “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley. I didn’t care for Jimi (way too advanced for my age) but I loved Marley. “Buffalo Soldier” clearly had nothing to do with drugs. And that hair! I couldn’t figure out dreadlocks. What were they? How did they do make them? Dreadlocks looked cool, in an alien way. Novel and interesting. My sister and I loved watching Bob Marley videos on Much. He was one of the few artists we actually agreed on. I hated her Corey Hart and she hated my W.A.S.P.!
She and I were always in tune with each other on reggae. There are no other genres of music that we agree so much on. In the 90s, we rocked it to Inner Circle. Like everyone else on the planet, we discovered them via Cops. My dad watched Cops a lot! He loved that stupid show and it became a Saturday night ritual. We’d play a game where we’d point out any time a male was not wearing a shirt. When “Bad Boys” came on at the beginning, my sister would hit that floor and dance! And she did the same at Bob Schipper’s wedding, where she requested the DJ play that song. We tore up the floor for that song, and avoided dancing completely otherwise. Some may forget this, but Inner Circle had more than just one hit. “Sweat” is actually a way better song than “Bad Boys”.
She had the cassette single for “Bad Boys” and in the summer at the cottage, we’d be cruising with my old buddy Peter in his car. She always wanted him to blast her tape of “Bad Boys” any time we were stopped at a red light on the main drag.
I didn’t buy any Bob Marley until I was in my 20s. Until that point, I adopted a pretty strict “metal only” policy to my music collecting. There were few exceptions. Kim Mitchell wasn’t metal, but he’s still firmly in the rock camp, occupying a quirky Zappa-esque corner to himself. The kind of thing that some more adventuring metal heads were into. The 1990s forced me to loosen my “metal only” policy. When I began at the Record Store, I befriended Aaron and acquired my first Marley album from him. It was the deluxe edition of Catch A Fire. Go big or go home.
There was a kid at work, Matty K, who was way, way, way into reggae and all the associated activities. He was whiter than white, but damn he sure knew his rap and reggae. I began to enjoy Snoop Dogg because of him. At night before closing the store, he always liked to play one of DMX’s prayers. Ironically, of course. It is reggae music that I always think of when I think of Matty K. Listening to Marley and Peter Tosh at the store. One of the few things we agreed on musically.
When I need something lighter, particularly for summer drives, I have a lot of genres to choose from. Marley’s One Love compilation usually does the job. I find it palatable to just about any passenger. It raises the spirits and raises the roof!