Stu News and Photos

My name is Stu and I am here to share what I can.

I have always been into music. I was weened on big band vocalists like Rosemary Clooney and swing composers like Benny Goodman, along with the large amount of Sinatra that my Mother loves. It was great, but I was unaware of the notes.

As I got older, I listened to AM radio, lots of bubblegum. Again, I enjoyed it, but I had no idea why.

Then my older brother came back to live with us (I think this was when he was fulfilling a contract with Bell Labs). He is nine years older than me, and at the time I was probably 13 to his 22, although I might have been younger.

He *loves* music, and at the time he was around a lot, he would occasionally, good-naturedly, give me crap about the bubblegum I was listening to. I listened to him, but his words fell on deaf ears, as I didn't understand why it was a big deal.

Then, one day, all of that changed.

It was summer, I think, and it was early evening. Our mother had asked my bro to pick up the dry cleaning (possibly at the Browntown Shopping Center on route 516, possibly Peter's Cleaners - my memory is faded). I asked to tag along and brother Dave totally obliged. We had a really good relationship back then, not like now, as we're both grownups so we have much more to talk about and more mature in our thinking, but even back then he was cool with me, never treating me like an annoying little brother.

Anyway, we drove in Dave's station wagon, although I don't remember if the dash was on or off. I do remember that the radio worked and that Dave listened to WPLJ, to disk jockeys like Jimmy Fink, Carol Miller, and others.

When we got to the parking lot of the dry cleaners, a song came on, and Dave stopped, almost stopped breathing, that's how strong his concentration was. As the first few bars were still hanging in the air, he leaned over, past me, and locked my door. He said "That's it, I'm locking you in here until you listen to this entire song."

The song was "Sultans Of Swing" by Dire Straits.

At the time, I was bummed. Trapped in this station wagon, forced to listen to more of this music that I just couldn't wrap my head around.

But my brother knew what was what.

After I settled down and accepted my fate, I started to listen to the song. It's essentially a relatively simple song with a repeating guitar riff. However, Mark Knopfler, the guitarist in question, didn't just play the riff over and over like a robot. He played it slightly differently every time. That's the first thing I truly heard, and it thoroughly, deeply put in the hook. No question, my ears opened up 10-fold that day. By the end of the song, I distinctly remember wanting to hear it again.

And ever since that day, my ears have gotten larger and larger, music blessing me with its magical gifts. And I know that my life would have been completely different if it wasn't for that musical lecture my brother forced on me, the same way you introduce a child to a wonderful food by popping it into their mouth, so they have no choice but to fully taste it.

And ahhhh, the taste...


Barbara said...

Wow, I am going to have to listen to that song now. I've always liked it, I'm not sure I've ever heard it though.

Suldog said...

That's an excellent memory to share, Stu. My own "awakening" came with a listen to "Highway Star" by Deep Purple, aided by a bit of benign organic chemicals :-)

David said...

Stu, I am touched by this memory. You are such an excellent brother. How'd I get so lucky? -- Dave