I must have been 11 years old. A time when I really started to relate to music in a passionate way. The cool older brother neighbor was filling me with megawatt infused doses of various classic rock favorites; Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Rush, etc. (to this day, Aerosmith - Toys in the Attic is still one of my favorite records). Piano lessons had been offered and accepted and I was slowly working my way through the basic classical repertoire of the day. On the side, however, I began to learn pop tunes; music that really inspired me to play. The evolution of my own personal musical discovery had begun. One day, our babysitter, she must have been 15 years old, was watching my brother and I. I sat down to practice my lessons, soon got bored, and then broke into the Styx tune, Babe. She who was previously ignoring my efforts suddenly rushed over in a fit of excitement, seemingly all hot and bothered, and began to fawn over my playing. She was just so excited and made me play the tune a couple more times. What was this all about? To me, this was Beatles stuff. I was a rock star. I was so cool. Or so that is how I saw it. She was a 15 year old girl. I was 11. Nonetheless, it was an epiphany. In an instant I understood the power of music and it's ability to move others, the listener, and hence, the audience (and how to pick up chicks. I met my wife at one of my gigs). I learned that music is not just a solitary experience during performance. It is about connecting and inciting emotion from the listener. I learned that the music lives beyond my own personal borders.
Fast forward 3 years and I get a call to join the neighborhood punk band. By this time I was a budding bassist and had yet to play with any other musicians. I had no idea what to expect. Punk rock was not even on my radar screen. I show up at the first rehearsal, the guitarist leads me through the chord progressions (all original material which was cool), a count of four and we were off. Something about that afternoon, the Summer air, the hormones, dumb luck, whatever, we clicked. The music was loud and forceful. It was sheer power, pure energy, summarized as raw expression. I can still feel the drums kicking down my back. The bass vibrations were intoxicating. The presence of sound was utterly and completely rocking my previously ordered sensibilities. I had never FELT the music like this before. I did not want it to end. The foundation had been laid and I was ready to run.
To this day, I think, on a subconscious level, I still draw upon these two experiences when I play (albeit, in a much more mature/developed manner), and try to recreate each one, again and again.