Autism Music Opinion

Music that Rocked My World: A Damn-Near Autism-Free Journey

What pop music changed your world…?

Autistic. Or not.

Are there pop songs…

A few pop songs…

That surprised you… showed you what Music could really do…?

Here are some of mine. Not a single Beatles. Not a single Rolling Stones… nary a single Dylan, Sinatra, Cole Porter…

Giants stand on the shoulders of lesser mortals. It’s hard to be surprised by giants.

Here are my musical surprises. In the order I encountered them as an ignorant youth.

  • 1965 Simon & Garfunkel’s acoustic-electric “Sounds of Silence” taught me rock lyrics could be about ideas. (I was 12. Only Dylan that I knew was “Blowin in the Wind.” Didn’t do it for me. Just another sweet, sentimental Hallmark card you pass by in the drugstore…)
    • And, because of my verbal processing difficulties and misunderstanding the lyrics, hearing Simon’s words opened my heart to the first hint that surrealism could explode the world as I knew it. Like Ryan O’Neal in Barry Lyndon… I overlooked Garfunkel’s voice…

  • 1966 Folkways Anthology of Folk Music (6 album set). I was 13 and bought myself my first guitar… promptly began lessons at the local musical store. Cuz far as I knew, rule-following young autist that I was…THAT’s how ya learnt music. Lol.
    • My parents, very concerned I was too involved in popular “folk-rock”… already fueled by rebellion and the first hints of drug usage…, gave me the multi-disk Folkways collection. Lesley Riddle’s “John Henry” promptly learned me that Segovia really only had the vaguest notion of the sounds a guitar could make…

  • 1967, after listening to my father’s rages against rock n roll since at least 1956, I checked out Benny Goodman’s 1937 instrumental of “Sing Sing Sing.” The wild abandon raised the hair on the back of my neck.… I learned musical experience had NOTHING to do with musical style… mebbe the biggest surprise of my musical life.

  • 1967 Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale”…. It’s weird. It is NOT my favorite pop song of all time… But. It IS the most important.
    • Like Warhol’s soup can, it destroyed my entire cognitive map of “serious” art… Rock orchestration, Bkack Gospel vibe, Bach-influenced counterpoint, apparently surreal lyrics… image after floating image resonating with my religious upbringing, classical reading, fascination with counterpoint…
    • I experienced it as a soaring anthem to the crumbling Enlightenment culture…
    • From which I have never fully recovered.

  • 1968 Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” & “Long Black Veil” taught me the power of real folk music to tell stories and express dark feelings. (Didn’t know Barbry Allen, the Weavers, the Carter Family, Woody….)

  • 1968 Dr. John (Mac Rebbenack) came to me in the wee hours of a summer night in my Westchester basement via “underground” radio WNEW… that played some pretty bizarre shit after midnight. But nothing like “I Walk on Guilded Splinters.” The sacred, the evil, the drone… the drone… the DRONE.
    • Like a worm at the back of my brain I knew something had HAPPENED that night.. but it itched for decades back there before I understood. Remarkably badly engineered… with basic flaws throughout… it’s genius.

  • 1971 Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Rain Coat” taught me pop music could hold adult, darkly complex feelings. I first heard “Suzanne” the summer of 1967. Fell in love with the crass, rebellious celebration of Jesus. Pursued Cohen… through his poetry, Buffy Ste-Marie’s “God is Alive,” his two novels… But nothing, nothing prepared me for the nuance…

  • 1976 Sex Pistols “Anarchy in the UK” taught me sometimes you could do all the above AND make people FEEL without really “knowing how” to play or write, you know, Music…

  • 1982 Prince’s “1999” taught me you could do all the above AND make someone’s ass wiggle. While casually exploring music theory… Prince blew my mind regularly from this point forward. The ONLY artist I list twice… but I could easily have listed a half dozen times. But they say you never recover from the first time…

  • 1984 Prince’s “When the Dove’s Cry” taught me you can accomplish ALL the above. AND kill the bass player. I believe the only TRIPLE PLATINUM hit in history where the kick drum provides the only bass. Accompanied by surreal imagery… Fuck music theory.

  • 1986 I discovered Irma Thomas’s “Time Is on My Side” by way of the soundtrack to “The Big Easy” and my subsequent adventures in NOLA artists. Taught where Rock n Roll REALLY came from. And it weren’t white boys in spandex…

  • 1989 Etta James “Feel Like Breakin Up Somebody’s Home” taught me the power of the Forbidden in the Blues… and ALL its step children…

  • 1991 Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” taught me you could do a LOT of what Leonard Cohen did… and kill the sentimentality.… Btw, best video of the rock era…

  • And finally… 2012 Kimmie Deckard-Knapp’s Trailer Trash taught me you’re never too old to be a pretend rock star. And sometimes convince a SMALL room you are….

Never been the same since.


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By johnnyprofane1

Live. Laff. Love. Rebel...

Pretend Rock Star... Cuz it's ALL cosplay.

I have no credentials to offer. At least none that matter anymore to me.

So I offer my life.

It's all I have to give.



#ActuallyAutistic #AllAutistics #AutisticElder #AutisticSurvivor #AutisticJoy #Neurodiverse #Neurodivergent

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