When I was 12 years old in 1973, I bought my first phonograph record.  For those of you that are too young to remember, music back in those days was reproduced by engraving the song in grooves on a plastic disc which was then played on a phonograph player with a swing arm containing a needle placed in the outer groove to pick up, reproduce, and amplify the song over your speakers.  At the time, there were two sizes of discs, a 10-inch disc played at 78 rates per minute (rpm), containing entire albums, and a 7-inch disc played at 45 rpm’s which contained only one song, a single which was normally released to produce buzz for the rest of the album.  There was always a “B-side” song on these short discs, some throw-away song basically, that the record producers didn’t have much faith in but hoped might get more exposure by being linked to the hit song on the “A side.”  Anyway, all that history aside, the record I first bought was Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” from his album “Don’t Shoot me, I’m Only the Piano Player.”  Both the song and the album exemplified Elton John’s flamboyant personality, but the first time I heard this song, I was instantly hooked.  The astonishing sounds, the rhythm, and the lyrics all just left me in amazement.  I had never heard such music and couldn’t believe such sounds could be produced. 

Of course, I was young and didn’t have much experience of the world, but these were electrifying sounds that were coming out of so many artists and record companies, being played over the air on AM radio or the fledgling FM radio networks.  The experts always try to point to a single person or group to determine who was the progenitor or who shaped rock, pop, R&B, country, or whatever genre of music.  But if you trace back to these people, then there are influences on them that trace back further, and those influences had influences that trace back even further.  For instance, many rock bands today might name their influences as the old bands that broke out during the 60’s and 70’s such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc.  But if you have heard or read these bands’ attribution of influence, you would know that most or all of those early bands were influenced by the old blues players like Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, or B.B. King, etc. And in turn those old blues players would cite influences from gospel songs in African-American churches or the work songs that these people sang in the fields while working. 

Although no one is completely sure of the exact origin of the phrase, it has often been said that we “stand on the shoulders of giants.” Everything that we do and have in life is built upon something else that went before or something else someone invented or discovered.  We take what they have done and try to make it better or put our own unique imprint on it.  From these previous influences, forces, and people, we reap the benefits of so many modern comforts, the wisdom of history, etc.  All of us owe a debt to the influences and help that we have received.  Whether they were teachers, coaches, parents, pastors, friends, whomever, we all were shaped in some way by these people.  This is one of God’s biggest blessings to us, the people that have touched our lives and influenced us in whatever way small or large.  Each of us is a walking miracle of God’s creation with amazing capabilities given to us by our loving Lord. Each of us has so much to give, and we receive so much in return. So we should always be thankful for the people that God brings into our lives.


Who has been the most influential person on you?

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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