On September 9th, 1988, this cheesecake popped out of the oven looking as all cheesecakes tend to. I was a blank slate, ready to be garnished and sweetened however my upbringing would see fit. Would I be graced with blueberries? Strawberries? Raspberries? A chocolate pattern, perhaps? No one knew at that time what would become of this little cheesecake, other than that he would follow the same basic path that all cheesecakes do. They're baked, and then they are eaten. It was up to me to decide what I would do along that path to being digested by the universe.
I grew up in a rather musical household. Neither of my parents were musicians, but they both had a large appreciation for music of all kinds. It was actually split between my parents. My mother had the widest taste ranging from jazz and classical to the tiniest sub-genre of rock your standard pigeonholing fruitcake would try to create. My dad on the other hand was mostly a southern rock and country kinda guy, which was something my mom didn't listen to often but appreciated nonetheless. As the years went by I was lucky enough to be exposed to music from all generations past, including what was at the time considered "modern".
Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, Billie Holiday, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd, Travis Tritt, Elvis, The Rolling Stones, Stone Temple Pilots, BB King, Django Reinhardt, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Offspring, Johnny Lang, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Brooks & Dunn, Beethoven, Everclear, Steely Dan, ZZ Top, The Allman Brothers, Chopin, The Tubes, Roxy Music, System of a Down, Etta James, Metallica, AC/DC, KMFDM, Susan Tedeschi, The Grateful Dead, and countless others were artists I was exposed to at a very young age and gained an appreciation for. Not just the bands themselves, but for their respective sounds, influences, and impact on the music world as a whole. But one band stuck out to me the most as a child growing up. A band that my family would soon identify as "My Band".
That band was The Beatles.
After I first heard their early material (Love Me Do, Please Please Me, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, etc) I confiscated my parents' tape collection of their work and held it in my room. I listened to it nonstop as I was taken aback by the power of the overly cheery love songs, spiced up with the occasional downer such as Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby. Then I discovered the weirder side of The Beatles, with Yellow Submarine being my jump off point into the darker, psychedelic side of the band.
I have fond memories of taking my Talkboy out with me to the park in the summer and swinging on the swings, with tracks like Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds fueling unusual twists in my imagination. Somehow the vibes were always right, and after years of this the smell of grass and the view of the old park (which has since changed quite a bit) have become associated with good times, and The Beatles. My aunts and uncles and grandparents and cousins all got to hear about my own case of beatlemania. My friends thought I was quite strange for having The Beatles as my favorite band, but I couldn't imagine someone not liking their music. It had become fairly ingrained in my very DNA, that the music of The Beatles would never leave me until the day I die.
September 9th, 1999. The Dreamcast is released in the United States. At the time, I was still fairly behind in the game world. I had a SNES with a massive library of games, and an N64 which was purchased a year before that. But how my mouth dropped in awe at the look of launch title Dreamcast games like Sonic Adventure. It looked so much better than my N64 or my friends' Playstations. And every game I saw made me want a Dreamcast more and more. But I couldn't convince my parents to allow me to get a third console, so something had to go.
I remained stubborn on this, until an issue of EGM came to my doorstep that contained details on a great new game called "Phantasy Star Online". From the moment I set my eyes upon the first screenshot of the game, to reading about the class system and the loot details I was hooked. After the game came out, I read each review I could find and drooled over the extremely positive marks it got. I decided it was time to get a Dreamcast. Unfortunately, my SNES and the entire library of games had to go in order to get it. But I was fine with this, and not but a year or two after getting my Dreamcast would I step into the emulation world so I think things turned out alright after all.
PSO was just the jumping point for my Dreamcast adventures. Jet Grind Radio, Skies of Arcadia, Grandia 2, Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, Ikaruga, Outtrigger, Illbleed, Shenmue... So many radical new worlds and ideas to explore. I played my Dreamcast more often than I did my N64, and the Dreamcast quickly became my favorite system of all time. My room was covered in demo discs from the Dreamcast Magazine and printouts of drop charts and maps and strategies from PSO-World. Unfortunately for me, the Dreamcast would die an early death at the hands of the Playstation 2 and Sega's own fanatical thinking and experimentation. Even with Seganet, the world just wasn't ready for the Dream Machine.
September 9th, 2009. The Beatles: Rock Band will be released, making a huge jump for the legacy of "My Band". It is an outstanding tribute to a band that has changed the face of music for an uncountable amount of people. I am happy to say that I am one of them. Along with the release of the Stereo/Mono remasters, and the rumor of The Beatles finally joining iTunes, The Beatles are inescapable right now. Recently, every day is just ever so slightly rose tinted for me by the fact that The Beatles are back in a big way. And the thought occurs to me: What luck I have to have so many things fall in to place like this.
I also turn 21 on that day. I will have made my final step into "adulthood", achieving the last hurdle of being able to legally drink. It is a landmark day for many a person, but for me it won't just be a day about the booze. To this day, I still listen to The Beatles. Their albums are on my laptop, my desktop, my iPod, my external hard drive. To this day, my Dreamcast sits proudly in my room. I boot it up every once in a while to play the classics the way they were 10 years ago. I own Xbox Live versions of Ikaruga and Rez, Gamecube versions of Skies of Arcadia, PSO and Ikaruga, and Jet Set Radio Future. And I play them to this day. I am still an active member over at PSO-World, ever since I first signed up there back in late summer 2003.
Music is still a huge part of my life. I listen to a wide variety of artists and genres, and always look out for a new and different sound. In my spare time I write album reviews for albums that are able to inspire me to write something about them. My love of music brought me to love the Rock Band series of games. I was exposed to it by a friend who took me with him to perform vocals during the Rock Band Tour that went around the country in 2007. I currently own Rock Band 2 for the Xbox 360 and an insane amount of DLC. And now "My Band" is being brought to a format that I love, to a system that owes a lot to the ground the Dreamcast broke. Some people may be a little tired of being stuck in a rut where a lot of things haven't changed since they were kids.