The Song of Your Life Part 2

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I wrote a blog a while back about how a song can lock you into a moment and become etched in your mind (part one is here). I decided to take a walk down memory lane for another batch.


1992-1994 – Nirvana’s Nevermind Album

On three separate occasions, this CD was playing in my car when I got into a fender bender during the above years. Now, in fairness, this is when I was aged 16-18, so the odds of being a little distracted here or there while driving is a bit higher being a teenager. Still, those 3 times were the only times I had any incidents while driving. Now all of these were straight-up fender taps, I was stopped and hit the gas just enough to get going, and the car in front of me had decided not to move. We got out of our cars, surveyed the damage (there was none) and all three people said “don’t worry about it”, and we went about our business.

But I realized that Nevermind was on while I was driving, which I thought was a bit of an odd coincidence, so I instituted a moratorium on playing that album in my car for at least 4 or 5 years.

You can never be too safe.

The kicker was that Chad Shonk was in the car with me for at least 2 of the accidents (I can’t remember if he was there for the third or not), but I never thought to ban Chad from riding with me!

Image by jodeng from Pixabay

1995-1999 – Van Halen – Right Now

My parents moved away to Virginia right after my senior year of high school, and since I was destined to attend Georgia Tech, I would only be visiting during the various quarter breaks. From downtown Atlanta to my parent’s new house was approximately 8 hours of driving. For those who have never done the trip, it is a lot of trees broken up by the occasional interstate exit. As time went on, I had gotten pretty efficient about my stops, which I tried to limit to one just north of Charlotte. I would fill up on gas, use the bathroom, and grab food all at the same exit in the hopes of shaving a little bit of time off the trip itself.

The other key to this trip was my cd player. With a single disc player mounted under my dash, I kept my big book of CDs on the seat beside me and when one was done, I moved onto the next one becoming very proficient in the art of changing them using only one hand.

No matter what mix of albums I was going through, I always had to grab my double-disc of Van Halen’s Right Now, Right Here Live album. Something about that entire “concert” put me in the right mood for my solitary journey, and something about the title song has always made me think about how we need to take a little time to reflect on where we are in the moment. 8 hour trips let you do that all too well, and so it was the perfect companion song for that.

1992 – Ministry – N.W.O.

What I like to refer to as my musical awakening happened when Lollapalooza came to Atlanta. Obviously, I’d been listening to Nirvana, but the wide array of Grunge and Alternative music which was bursting on the scene was still a little out of my grasp. So when my Kroger co-worker invited me to go to the concert with her, I jumped at the opportunity to do something new and different.

The trip itself occurred prior to having cell phones with GPS to get you to the correct place, so we only had a brief set of instructions… and being 16, we completely missed our exit and continued on until we were well south of the city. This all meant we showed up later and missed most of Pearl Jam’s set. However, we settled in on the lawn and proceeded to listen to The Jesus and Mary Chain, Soundgarden, and Ice Cube.

The sun was beginning to set when Ministry hit the stage. And I must admit, I’m not 100% on what song they opened the set with (though the internet tells me they opened with N.W.O. a fair bit, so it’s a safe guess), I do remember what occurred in those next seconds. I’d never been to a metal concert at this point, so when the entire lawn morphed into a gigantic mosh pit, I was a bit concerned. Rebecca wasn’t and jumped right in while I stood off to the side holding our stuff.

Ever since, N.W.O. conjures that same image of thousands of screaming fans just going nuts… and painted the blueprint for many, many concert nights to follow.


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Top Eleven Albums – Part 2

So last month there was a bunch of Facebook posts to talk about your favorite albums, but not actually give any reasons… just post something and leave it like that. But as I said in part 1, context is key.



The Police – Message in a Box

This is a cheat and it isn’t one at the same time. This is a full collection of all their albums. But when I received this box set for Christmas I was 14 or 15 and I only had Synchronicity. But I also knew that I loved any songs by the band which came on the radio. For some reason, I asked for this thing which might have been $40 or $50 on that basis alone. And when I think about it, I probably only really knew about 5 or 6 songs of theirs.

So I got this full thing of like 78 songs which ran the gambit of their entire career. And like most things, I probably listened to it all once and then skipped to my favorite songs.

But as time went on, I started listening to the other songs. And I found ones that I never knew existed. Driven to Tears is a punch to the gut every time. The Bed’s Too Big Without You speaks to me anytime my wife and I are apart for too long. I Burn For You.

Deeper cuts for me.

So it is a Christmas gift, but more than that it is a gift where as I got older, it showed me different faces to the music. And while that might happen with any album, when it is an entire catalogue, it makes it to the point where you appreciate the band all the better.


Nirvana – Nevermind

Like so many people of my age, this album fundamentally changed how you listened to music. In many ways it is the true line of demarcation. There is certainly a time Before Nevermind and an After Nevermind stamp. But weirdly, I more remember when I first heard Smells Like Teen Spirit. It was at one of our High School Basketball games where it was played during the shoot-around just before the game. As much as I watched MTV, I didn’t know what this song was, but instantly liked it.

Later, I realized the irony of that moment with the Cheerleaders and the stands and all of that. Everything the song was sort of railing against, and here it was being played without any other regard.

And I had no idea what it was, but I was instantly drawn to the sound. I needed to know more. I needed to hear more.

The other part that I think about is when Chad Shonk had a BBS (Bulletin Board) and to test it out, we would chat across the computers through our modems (this feels like the stone ages now). But sometimes you weren’t sure if you were connected, so he would write:




And I would respond with:

How low?

Pantera – Far Beyond Driven

With Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power, I didn’t have those albums until Egg Embry made me a pair of tape copies. This was at the time when I would have just gotten a CD player in the car and so tapes weren’t going to get listened to all that often. Yet, I listened just enough to know I liked Pantera.

This album sealed that for me.

However, as much as the album told me how much of a metalhead I might have been, it was going to the concert for this tour that sealed it for me. It was at Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta and we managed to get like 13th row. Strange as that sounds to have seats for a Pantera show, it is a Top 5 show for me.

Alice in Chains – Dirt

I found out about Alice in Chains from the Singles Soundtrack (which would/should be in my top 20 for influential albums). Where Nirvana and Pearl Jam were the darlings of the magazines and MTV, Alice in Chains felt like it was still a secret (even though it was not). They felt more metal than any of the Grunge bands. And listening to this was the first time I’d really heard a concept album. It took you on a full story from beginning to end, made the agony of that downward spiral into drugs and death… you felt the pain.

Weirdly, I don’t know if I have a specific story for this. I remember it being a major soundtrack of my teenage life even if I never dabbled in drugs or alcohol, this was as good a reason why I stayed away.

Deftones – Around the Fur

It was another soundtrack that introduced me to the Deftones: The Crow 2. They had one song on there and were the standout track for me. I searched them out (back when you needed to go to record stores for such things) and found their first album and fell in love with the band.

This was the soundtrack of my 1997 and 1998. It accompanied me on many a road trip. It was a comfort when I needed to rage at the world and, probably, more importantly, was one of those albums that all my friends loved. Which, especially when you are younger, helps create an even stronger bond with the music.

Pearl Jam – Ten

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, Pearl Jam has been mentioned. Heck, if you’ve ever met me and we talk about favorite bands, I don’t hesitate to claim them as mine.

As to stories, Chad left his copy of Ten at my house and I had it for a few days when he asked for it back. I hadn’t listened to it at all. For some reason, without hearing any of their music, I was convinced I didn’t like them. But, seeing as I needed to bring the disc into school the next day, I played it.

And then I played it again.

And then I got out a blank tape and copied it onto it.

With most albums, the first listen is rarely a “fell in love with it”. I normally find a couple of things I like and as I continue through, I like it more and more. But Ten was different. It spoke to me through the music and lyrics and the actual construction of the songs on the album. I fell in love with the non-hits like Deep and Garden to the point that I may love those songs as much as any hit they’ve ever put out.

And when Release comes to an end, and we slowly fade to what was the intro… my journey becomes complete.


John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at


A Thought for every Thursday – Is Reincarnation Pointless?

Welcome to A Thought for Every Thursday.

Every Thursday we’ll pose a question (or several) regarding a specific current event, a modern moral issue, or a philosophical conundrum. Instead of answering it ourselves, we look to you for the resolution.

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For the next few weeks, we’re going to approach a few deeper-than-normal topics.

Science. Religion. Meaning of life type stuff.

Today’s topic is reincarnation, and whether or not such a concept is even possible:



It’s a prime tenet of the Hindu religion, and is referred to peripherally by several other faiths.

The idea:

Every human and animal has a soul.

Upon death of the body, the soul can inhabit a new body, thus beginning life anew.

Let’s imagine for a moment reincarnation is absolute fact.

Now suppose, due to some universal cataclysm, all life were permanently extinguished. It’s entirely possible, even if it happens many, many years from today.

If all the souls in existence were suddenly rendered homeless (no bodies to inhabit) would they simply wander the universe for eternity?

And would that make the entire reincarnation concept pointless?

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Past A Thought for Every Thursday entries are right here.

If you like these kinds of questions, try these on for size.

If you prefer something gentler, go here.

See you next Thursday!

J Edward Neill