What’s the song you immediately associate with DnD?
Since I have a few of these to knock out tonight, I was doing a little mental pre-pro, considering what I was going to say to each (spoiler: most will go pretty quickly, which leaves me time to tear the hell into Moon Knight). When it came time to actually type this one, though, I blanked for a bit.
But I recovered! When it comes to DnD, I associate the majority of the library you’d get on an alternative/classic rock radio station during the late 90’s. That may seem oddly non-specific-specific, and there’s a reason!
The reason is KBER.
When I was growing up in Green River, I was unfortunately on the wrong side of town. Not the bad side of town, or the scary side of town–just the old side of town. I don’t mean old houses, I mean old people. Everyone was old! I had two friends within bike distance of my house, and our friendship was forged primarily out of proximity and necessity rather than having anything in common. One of us was wealthy, spoiled, and frail; one of us had boomtown money from his stepfather, loved NASCAR, and had the kind of house no one wanted to visit because his parents were weirdly strict and standoffish; one of us runs a blog where he talks about role-playing games and Natalie Portman. Not exactly the strongest of bonds!
The only, only upside to my location (until I hit my hermit who basically lived at the library stage) was that the geography of the canyon behind my house meant that I could get access to KBER. Everyone else had to make do with the local pop station, a bevvy of country stations–Wyoming, folks–and many, many religious stations. We didn’t even get the good NPR.
KBER’s website currently has a “hot chick of the week” on the front page, so it’s some classy stuff. I’m sure it was roughly as classy back in the day, but it was one precious breath of valuable media in a house where I didn’t have the internet for at least three years. I was introduced to a lot of music, from Zep and Metallica (Mandatory Metallica, no less, every Monday night!) to Creed (Creed was exciting when they first hit!) and Nickelback (Again, there was a time! They sounded like new Bush!). Don’t think of that as a look at quality so much as the bounds of the era that KBER covered; it’s where I got my Korn, my Days of the New, my Pantera…it was comprehensive. There was a morning show with off-color humor (which I would have happily replaced with more music, but it was where I got the Dicken’s Cider bit). There were DJs with names and personalities. There was cursing after the watershed and I heard Metallica’s “So What” for the first time and genuinely thought they were shitting on Utah, which was right in line with my sensibilities at the time.
So this was the music I listened to when I got into DnD. I listened to Zeppelin while leafing through the PHB, and thought I was hallucinating the first time I heard them mention Mordor and realized that people who were old and famous knew about fantasy stuff. More than anything else, though, I listened to the music for hours while reading, and memorizing, the Monstrous Manual. I’d mentioned before that when I started gaming with the group I’d play with through most of high school, I was a player who quickly became the DM. Specifically, though, it was because the DM was trying to throw some unexpected monsters at us for the end-of-adventure finale, and I was telling him what he was trying to make us fight by seeing where he was in the book from across the room. I emphasize that as though it’s a thing, because it was, at the time, for them. But I imagine many folks who might bump into this blog hop entry, especially if they were writing their own, are nodding and going “Well, obviously.” If you immersed yourself that deeply, that’s just a natural reaction.
But I’ll still hear songs, sometimes, and be back in my waterbed, the white-covered book in my hands, leafing through the pages. The immediate memory’s actually even more specific than that, as I always flash right to the Yellow Dragon. That thing blew my damn mind since–again, as previously mentioned–I got started with the ADnD MM. That meant I knew my chromatics cold, but to suddenly be faced with new chromatics blew me away. The new metallics I didn’t care about because screw them. The Deep Dragon seemed pointless to me, and the Brown didn’t count because it was wingless. I loved–and love–the Gem Dragons, especially the Amethyst with its breath weapon grenade. But the idea that there could be a new addition to the balanced pentagon that was the chromatics….the implications this had for Tiamat and her five heads…and the detail that the Yellow’s hunting methods had: this was heavy business, and rocked me to my core.
So “Stairway to Heaven?” Yellow Dragon. “Unforgiven” or (ugh) “Unforgiven II?” Yellow Dragon.
“My Own Prison?”