These are not 10 songs I like. I have thousands of songs that I like so it would kinda be an impossible task to pinpoint only 10. Instead I would very much like to talk about 10 songs that shaped my personality in my formative childhood and early teenage years. Music that influenced my choices as an artist, as a man, as a friend. Looking back I fathom that I would be a much different person had these songs not crossed my path. When I get inspired by such a song I don't just listen to it, it becomes my soundtrack for a while, I live it, breathe it, dwell on its energy. I get excited like a teenage girl then I dissect it like a scientist and finally overdose on it like a junkie until it mingles with my DNA. This way we'll never be apart. It always sits quietly in the background only to surface at random listenings triggering emotions and memories associated with that whole period of my life. My little Proust-esque madeleines. My roots. My stories.
1. Modern Talking | Cheri, Cheri Lady
I must have been four or five and this song (along with other MT tunes) had a massive impact on me. Oddly enough it happened to be a negative one. I hated it! I can't really tell why. It's kind of ridiculous to even attempt an explanation giving the young age. It must have been something along the lines of that Disco energy. Those falsetto voices. That androgynous image that creeped the shit out of me. Why was this important? Because it showed me what it is that I don't like. So my first exposure to Music kind of started off the wrong foot. I remember covering my ears every time I would hear any MT. And back in those days that meant a lot of times. And by the way: I still don't like them... Don't hate them, but fuck 'em!...
2. Trio De Santa Cruz | Yo Vendo Unos Ojos Negros (Chilean Traditional Folk Song Cover)
Diving deep back to the pre-1989 times. Communism. Ceauşescu. You get the whole spiel... People had a lot of problems but somehow they had a lot of friends. That includes my parents. And what do friends do on their spare time? They party! Western Music (especially Rock) was on The Blacklist, but on the market there was an infusion of Latin-American Music on vinyls. Hugely appropriate for parties. When my parents' group of friends would gather to have a good time they would listen for hours and hours of Cuban and Central & South American Music (tolerated by the censors perhaps due to the strong pro-Socialist movements in the respective countries at the time - Cuba was flat-out communist). Not only that, but after listening and dancing they would pick up the guitars and play the songs themselves. Oh, that was a lot of fun! I was fascinated by the rhythms, by that passion, by the sound of that mysterious Spanish language. There were a lot of songs, but this particular one was the big hit. I loved it when the drunk grown-ups would harmonize on it. Then one day I got ambitious and I tried to sing it myself. This is the first recollection of me singing. First tune I ever cared for. I must have been 7 or 8. If you know my band it would be pretty redundant to say that I still love Latin Music. Oh, and I have all those vinyl discs right in my day-room. They're mine now.
3. The Beatles | A Taste Of Honey (Lenny Welch Cover)
My father got it on a Bulgarian-pirated contraband vinyl. I was shocked to find out that there's other Music out there other than Muzică Uşoară, Latin and Disco. I loved the vocal harmonies and it must have been the first time I've ever heard a distorted guitar tone. Beautiful tune covered by Lennon & McCartney. I learnt it by heart and would hum it all day long. Had no idea what the lyrics meant, but couldn't care less at that point. I was 9.
4. AC/DC | Have A Drink On Me
The Revolution of 1989 brought certain degrees of Freedom. For all I cared it meant that we could listen to whatever the fuck we wanted. I remember those first days in January. Those first Musical Videos on National Television (TVR), Lambada, Alice Cooper's House Of Fire, MC Hammer, etc. I kinda dug all of it. Until I stumbled upon an album that electro-schocked my brain circuits and gave me an instant addiction: AC/DC's Back In Black. I had never listened to anything even remotely close to that sort of energy. It happened on my 10th birthday. Me and my friends from School listened to that record for hours, head-banging and air-playing drums & guitars. This particular song hit me harder than anything else on that record. I felt like flying. Like being an unstoppable Force of Nature. That song would make me immune to anything bad. It would make me invincible. Our little freak-out on AC/DC is very well documented on a VHS tape. It's amazing to see that moment after all these years. Why was this important? That Music united all of us friends who participated in that distorted-guitar ritual. That became Our Music. The rest of the World could listen to any DJ Bobo they liked. We were the Rock 'N' Roll guys. 22 years later we're all still friends. Each and every one of those little fuckers who were at that party.
5. Pink Floyd | Vera
Yeah, I know: the whole The Wall album is a masterpiece. I agree. I discovered it among my father's tapes and I abused it until I ruined the magnetic tape. However, this song is so underrated. The emotion in it made me cry. I don't remember doing that previously while listening to any other song. But this one... Oh, Lord Almighty... Broke me into pieces even if I couldn't understand a goddamn lyric. That voice. That Acoustic guitar. That violin. It was the most beautiful Music piece I had ever heard. And then the explosion and Bring the boys back home... I'd better stop before I turn completely pathetically - sentimental. Why was this important? Because it made me want to play the Guitar. For real. I had to play that song. I had to!
6. Phoenix | Te Întreb Pe Tine, Soare...
It was the Summer of '92. I had seen the grand-return of the Romanian band Phoenix from Germany the previous year. Then my father bought me this double album called SymPhoenix. Lots of great songs. Amazing musicianship. Mind-blowing lyrics. But there was something else: Baniciu's voice. On that song: Baniciu's voice. Every Phoenix concert I attended for the next 10 years I was like: Oh, my God, Baniciu's voice!... Every time I meet Baniciu now (luckily we became friends) I still go: Oh, my God, Baniciu's voice!. When I'm 120 years old, I bet my life on it, when I hear a Phoenix song I'll be like: Oh, my God, Baniciu's voice!
7. Santana | Europa (Earth's Cry Heaven's Smile)
I don't even like the song that much. I like other Santana tunes way more. But it's such a vital song to me. It was the very first song I've ever played on a guitar. I was 12. It felt larger than Life. It showed me I could do it. That it isn't that hard. I played it at School and this girl from another classroom gave me her phone number. She said she loved it. And then she addressed a question that would change my life: Do you know any Guns N' Roses?... My first answer: Who the fuck are Guns N' Roses?. It didn't take very long to find out...
8. Guns N' Roses | Shotgun Blues
OK, I asked this friend/distant relative who I knew he was into Rock Music to make me a mixtape with Guns N' Roses. Couldn't impress that girl if I didn't know who they were. He did it. He said: I bought you a 90 min. casette. I recorded GN'R, but I still had some unused tape left so I recorded a couple of songs from this other new band. Didn't really care as long as GN'R were there. I inserted the tape in the player completely expecting some ballads (she said they were playing slow songs). First song on the tape was Shotgun Blues . My jaw dropped. This high-speed Punk-influenced flip-off song had the grittiest lyrics I had ever heard. At that point I was getting decent at English. First time I heard the F-word in a song. I was like "What the fuck? This is not a ballad!"... It had the energy of AC/DC, but it was rougher, meaner, meat & potatoes Rock 'N' Roll. Didn't see it coming. I loved GN'R. They were so rude and nasty. Love their ballads as well, but my take on them has always been as the band who plays that dirty Rock 'N' Roll. Anyways my first listening to tape happened in a car. It was me and my friend who brought it for me. The GN'R selection ended at some point. I was high on them! Couldn't imagine anything grittier and more befitting my personality. And then this other song starts. Remember? He had told me that he recorded a couple of more tune from this other new band. So this guitar riff starts and then an explosion of Anger. My Anger. And that voice. It sounded like it was my voice. Not my actual voice, but the voice inside of me. I couldn't fuckin' breathe! I mumbled a question: What is this? Who are these guys?... He said There's a new band popular in America. It has a cool name: Nirvana. This song is called: 'Smells Like Teen Spirit', but I don't know what the hell is that supposed to mean.
9. Nirvana | Smells Like Teen Spirit
Well, shit, I only had two songs and I needed to hear the whole record! My 12th birthday was coming up and I persuaded my father to get me a Walkman (explanation for kids: a prehistoric device known as a portable cassette player). He also got me two tapes: Nirvana - Nevermind and Black Sabbath - Dehumanizer. Needless to say how many gazillions of times I played those records. But no matter what else happened while listening to any other song, when SLTS came around I would wanna break stuff, I would release my frustrations out in the wide open, I would forget about tests, teachers, fair-weather friends and whiny little bitches at School and I would want to start a revolution or something. I was becoming a teenager. Funny thing. It is probably the only song in the world that STILL triggers in me the same emotions. If you wanna see me doing a one-man mosh pit just play me Teen Spirit!
10. Deep Purple | Soldier Of Fortune
My father used to sing it for me. It was beautiful. His guitar playing was also moving. I had wanted to hear the original for ages, but no one had it. There was no info on the album that included this song. Not a lot of people even knew about it at all as it was not among the most famous DP tunes. It wasn't even being sung by the most famous DP singer. But then one day I found it on a tape some friend lent me. It had a musical selection from various artists and this song was accidentally there. The last song on that tape. That voice made me feel things. That Bluesy crooning voice. That swagger. It did something to me that no other song did: it made me want to sing. My firsts attempts in that direction happened by practicing over and over this song only. It was like the World didn't have any other Music. I was obsessed with it. I needed to be good like that. I needed to play it and sing it right. I don't think I have ever succeeded. Not to my own standards. I'll never sing that song as beautifully haunting as David Coverdale. But people liked it. It was my exam song when I joined the Arts School. It was what I sang when I auditioned for my first band. It was the song that brought me my first awards at singing-contest festivals I attended for a while. It was the first song I really managed to arouse feelings in people. It was my song. And it will always be!