Erik Peterson just died recently. I doubt he's known to many who may read this, but he was a great musician, most well known for Mischief Brew, and died earlier this month at age 38. I very rarely feel any personal loss with the knowledge of a performers death, but Erik Peterson and his music played such a role in my teen years, that as I've been non-stop listening to Mischief Brew for the past week, I'm reminded of how important it was to me at that time.
I'm not sure if I've ever related to music as much as I did as a teenager - maybe that's true for everyone? I used to listen to what can be loosely described as the folk-punk genre (a lot of Mischief Brew). But once I started working and cohabitation with people with different music preferences and started primarily using mainstream streaming programs for music, I realized that I never listen to what I used to love so much. Sure, I still blast World Inferno Friendship Society into my ears as I run and can't help but smile when an Against Me! song pops it's way into a shuffled lineup, but those aren't the tunes that I'm listening to regularly, they're saved for nostalgic purposes.
Since hearing the news of Erik Peterson's death I haven't been able to stop listening to those old lyrics that still so often seem to read my mind. I'm instantly brought back to a summer night in Boston, in a local folk-activist musician's backyard. Surrounded by people holding hands and smiling, we watched Erik Peterson play his guitar and sing, sitting on an old picnic table. I remember sitting on the ground playing with his pugs as a tin went around collecting what money we could offer him to help get him back to Philadelphia.
I can't say for sure if I would relate to this style of music so strongly if I hadn't connected with it at such a formative time in my life, but it is nice to go back to it now and still get the same sense of comfort in knowing that I am not alone in a lot of my frustration. It's a nice reminder of why every once in a while I come across a silk-screened "folk the system" patch that I just can't get myself to part with.