Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 25: Queen’s Triumph of Restraint

Hard to believe that installment 25 of RNRHS has arrived.  Funny how some things seem to take on a life of their own.  This has been an exercise in self-indulgence, allowing me to spend time re-connecting with old friends, making new ones, and unearthing my musical memories.  I suppose that’s the advantage of having a blog, especially one with your name on it–you get to do whatever you want.  Tom Maxwell is the guinea pig for the Silver Edition, rounding out a trifecta of Chapel Hill music fabulousness over the last two weeks that also included Greg Humphreys and Jim Wilbur.  When I asked Tom to take part, his biggest concern was that there was no way to live up to Scott Carle.  I agree it’s quite an undertaking, Scott should probably just hijack my blog for himself.  Still, I defied Tom to be lame and he failed, and I have a sense that much like Scott Carle, Tom could have written about music (rock ‘n’ roll or not) and his youth for days. Last week I mentioned the urban legend of the long-gone R.E.M. t-shirt, but what I really want to see is the shirt Tom’s brother made for him.

Tom Maxwell

Mountain Heritage High School, Burnsville, NC, Class of ’83, Currently: Musician, Dad, Producer, Writer, Wine Sales Rep

Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: I haven’t really given it much thought, but the first two songs that come to mind are both by Queen: “We Will Rock You” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. They were, both for the band and the time, remarkably pared down productions. I had suffered through the excess of the 70s, hearing Boston (the dude harmonized with his own screams!) and other inscrutables like “Tonight’s The Night” and “Blinded By The Light” being overplayed on the big Charlotte FM station. Those Queen songs are great pop, accessible, and came as something of a relief. Also, each have only about 20 vocal tracks; a kind of triumph of restraint for that band.

Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: My brother Steve made me a Small Faces t-shirt, which I basically wore until it fell off.

Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: By high school I was completely in my own musical world. I was scouring the record store in Asheville to find a battered copy of “The Velvet Underground” or Parlaphone releases of Beatles records. I had no time for Def Leppard or whatever the fuck people were listening to. High school, for me, might as well have been a monastery. I was in band, and therefore permanently uncool. I didn’t smoke, drink or do drugs. I had only kissed one girl, once. My real musical crisis had occurred some years before, with Kiss. Never liked ’em, which put me decidedly out of step with the middle school crowd. I guess everyone in middle school feels that way anyway.

Best show or concert you saw in high school: Didn’t see show one until I got to Chapel Hill. See above. I redeemed myself by seeing the Flat Duo Jets open for The Woods a week or so after coming to college.

Optional bonus question: Best high school make-out song: See above. My first choice for make-out music now would be anything by Hariprasad Chaurasia.

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