How Genesis Saved My Life

Three Sides Live.  This cassette tape kept me sane in 1981-82.

I was a troubled and angry young man at the time.  My stepfather was being transferred so the whole family was moving to Italy lock, stock and barrel.  We packed up quickly and rented out the house, got on a plane and left.

It was tough being in a completely new place and not being able to speak the language.  It’s funny how the absence of something, in this case language, increases your appetite for it.  We were thrilled to discovered that the local university played English/American movies for their English curriculum.  I’d love to discuss some of those incredibly inane movies but that’s another blog post.

Being that troubled young man I spent quite a bit of time, prior to our move, listening to cassettes.  Cassettes were my escape when the joys of familial participation weren’t enough to fulfill my angst ridden pre-teen attitude.

Since we moved so quickly I only took one of my favorite tapes with me, AC/DC’s “For Those About To Rock.  While that tape could be considered one of the best ever, it still only had 10 tracks on it.

I quickly needed more and the Italian pop scene was dominant at the time.  I wasn’t about to go down that route.

Cut to a few months into our stay and I was walking along the passaggiata (beach walkway) and saw an African man selling hand carved ebony figurines and cassette tapes.  Hungry for something new I ran home for some money.

Thankfully the guy was still hawking his wares so I dabbled through the tapes and found “Three Sides Live” and since I’m always one for a bargain I bought this double album cassette.

I couldn’t unwrap the cellophane quickly enough, forcing the small plastic box open so that I could devour it’s contents.  That same tape stayed with me for at least the next few years.  It was quite different than the American rock that I’d been accustomed to.

It wasn’t guitar heavy, but keyboard heavy.

It wasn’t about sex and drugs, it was about love, extinction and poverty.

It wasn’t a bunch of beer drinking buffoons smashing guitars, but about grown men telling stories with music.

So, with all the other changes taking place in my life at the time I was more open to understanding what I was listening to, and more importantly, changing my perceptions about who I was.

I listened to all 4 sides again and again not only because it was in English but because fueled my internal dialogue.  It inspired me to become a pianist and perceive myself as something more than I was before hearing it.  I discovered that anger wasn’t the only emotion deep inside me, but I was also sad, caring, hopeful…sounds weird, but it really made an impact.

Albums, Cassettes, and CD’s have had their day, but I still listen the Three Sides Live often.  Unfortunately the fourth “studio” side has been lost to me.  After some research I discovered that the fourth side contained different songs depending on where the cassette was released.  So, I’m still searching for my original cassette.

It’s funny looking back at that time in my life…I’m forty now and so far removed from that angry young man but these songs…these lessons take me back to a nice, comfortable place.

Just like they did back then.




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