I was 13 years old in 1978 and life was pretty simple back then. Like many kids in suburban NY, my parents gave me a weekly allowance to earn for doing household chores. In return for taking out the garbage 3x per week, mowing the lawn every weekend and being at my parents beck and call for cheap labor, I was given $20 each week to spend as I pleased.

What pleased me back then was buying pizza and soda after school with my friends on our daily walks to the local record stores, the local arcade at Nathan’s Famous and to buy baseball cards which I had been collecting for years. If there was ever money left over at the end of a week, I’d buy a record.

Even though I liked music at that time, it hadn’t yet taken over my life as one of my main interests. That was still baseball cards, followed by my friends and girls, though I wasn’t having much luck with them at that age.

By the middle of 1978 I had a small number of albums including Boston’s debut which is the first album I ever bought, Queen’s News of the World and Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell.

After spending a day at my friend Ira’s house trading baseball cards and playing video games, I went home to sort the cards I had traded for. That’s part of the collecting experience. You look at what you have, you sort it, you store it and display it.

As I was busy sorting and reading the backs of baseball cards, I heard the DJ at the radio station WNEW-FM 102.7 say “I want to be a blue collar man, do you want to be a blue collar man”? I had no idea what a blue collar man was, but as the opening organ to Blue Collar Man by Styx started playing, that didn’t matter. For the next 4 minutes and 5 seconds in fact, nothing mattered. Except that song.

I don’t know exactly why, but hearing Blue Collar Man for the first time felt like being swept away, as if some force pulled me in toward it and I had no control over where I was going. And I didn’t care. I knew I was going some place amazing.

The organ played by Dennis DeYoung, Tommy Shaw’s vocals, JY’s guitar solo, the drums, the lyrics, the chorus. It all grabbed me and all I could think of when the song ended was that I needed to get the album Blue Collar Man was on. That’s what I did the very next day. And the music fanatic that I became, and remain to this day was born.

My life as a teenager changed dramatically in the immediate aftermath of becoming a music fanatic. Baseball cards quickly faded from my interest, and my friend Ira faded from my life with . The friends I had quickly changed. Gone were baseball card collectors and kids who liked to spend their days after school at the local park playing basketball. They were replaced by fellow music fans who liked spending their afternoons listening to music, playing video games, smoking and getting high.

Within a month of hearing Blue Collar Man for the first time, I had bought 3 older Styx albums after discovering they had already made a lot of music and had been around since 1972. That introduced me to the idea of looking backward musically, which I hope to expand on in the future. I bought more albums of course by other bands including the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and the mighty Led Zeppelin to name a few. I saw my first concert late that year at the Nassau Coliseum. It was a Styx concert, of course.

It’s amazing how hearing one song can change a life.

Categorized in: