Ahoy! I’m Manthan Shah and I’m back with another article.
Today, as of when I wrote this article (November 5th), is Bryan Adams’s 60th birthday. I’ve been a huge fan of his music, so I felt I’d write something about him.
Growing up in an Indian household, I primarily listened to Indian music. My parents had an old cassette player that played Gujarati prayers and folk songs. Sometimes the entire family came together and we had jam sessions that would last for hours! Of course, we played Indian music. Even though this music brought the whole family together, I still longed for something else.
My family wasn’t the kind of family to only like Indian music and considered everything else to be barbaric. My dad, in college, started listening to lots of rock music. One of the most popular Western artists was none other than Bryan Adams. In fact, he’s performed there 5 times, with the most recent show being back in November 2018.
From what I’ve been told, my first time listening to real Western music was while I was heading to California from Kansas City, Missouri (I was born in Missouri but moved to California while I was turning 3). A Bryan Adams song came on the radio and my dad cranked it up. I don’t remember my reaction to his music (I might’ve been half asleep for all I know). Little did I know that I would end up hearing Bryan’s raspy voice more often later on.
For most of my childhood, I listened to 96.5 KOIT, a nice Bay Area station that used to play lots of rock music and some pop hits. I used to be able to listen to a song and predict the title, but I didn’t really know who the artist was. Every time I heard a Bryan Adams song, I felt more attracted to that raspy voice. Finally, when I was in 4th grade and heading home from some extracurricular class, I tried out a feature on my mom’s new SUV’s radio system – stating the artist and the song. Turns out the song was Bryan Adams’s #1 (or #2) hit: “Summer of ‘69” (joke all you want about the title; it’s still an awesome song)!
I used to watch videos of his performances and I started dreaming of starting a band. I was enamored with the way Bryan could get the audience to sing along to every word of his songs. I was enthralled with how playing a single guitar riff could quickly excite the crowd; it was as if they were predicting the song before it happened!
In middle school, I hit my Bryan Adams phase. It got to the point of me singing his songs in the hallways while getting my books for all the classes I would have and randomly air guitaring (change a few words and I haven’t changed one bit). I wanted to grow up and become a guitarist while fronting my own band (even though percussion is my true calling). I borrowed a friend’s dad’s old guitar and went to my first guitar class. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to go to any more guitar classes because my schedule was all over the place. Eventually I returned that guitar. However, I still have a picture of me with that guitar.
Of course, that band never happened, but I found one of my inspirations for drumming – Mickey Curry, Bryan’s drummer. I found it awesome how he could hold down the beat perfectly while doing all sorts of fancy tricks and fills. His drum solos were really addicting to listen to, especially when he went all-out on the toms and cymbals. He was also a great, down-to-earth (I never met him but I’ve heard of people that met him).
Now, for those who are wondering – have I seen a show? Yes, I have! Back in July 2016 (if I remember right, it was July 9, 2016), Bryan Adams had a show at the Concord Pavilion. My dad and I went there and we had a blast! I got to see my (then) hero perform live! I even identified almost every single song just by listening to the first few notes! This was my first real Western music concert and I’ll never forget that show.
I started listening to Bryan’s newer material but I wasn’t as impressed with his newer albums – he just seemed to become more predictable with his songs. The lyrics seemed to lack any real meaning and were utterly bland. I also started listening to more punk rock, and I eventually stopped listening to Bryan Adams. From time to time, I would listen to some of his songs. While I enjoyed listening to his older material, I never found any charm in listening to his new stuff. It seemed that he became a shadow of his former self through that.
That being said, in the end, Bryan deserves credit where it’s due. His music was my introduction to “Western” music. I have the feeling that thanks to his music, I grew up with a rather unique music taste instead of the generic, boring pop music that’s dominating the airwaves. Bryan’s music was the start of my continuing musical journey from the aspiring rockstar who had a guitar for a few weeks to the eardrum-nuking drummer who’s now playing for a ska band. Happy Birthday, Mr. Adams. Thanks so much for shaping and influencing the music I grew up listening to!