Music Appreciation #3: Joe Satriani

Guitarist extraordinaire Joe Satriani just released his newest album, Shockwave Supernova, and since the album arrived at my house on Friday, July 24, it has been receiving substantial airplay. My son and daughter are already well familiar with several songs, my son singing along with the melodies.

The other night my son and I were playing a game of Dominion (one of our favorites), and at one point he stopped in the middle of his turn and said, “Dad, aren’t you forgetting something?” At first I thought I had violated one of the game’s rules. “What?” I asked. “Joe Satriani,” he answered. (Meaning, play the new album already, Dad.) That was a special moment for me as a dad and as a long-time Joe Satriani fan.

My history with Joe Satriani’s music goes back decades to my sophomore year of high school, when in that glorious Minnesota autumn I purchased The Extremist. The album quickly became my go-to for background music when doing homework since there were no vocals to distract me. It was also the album my band and I learned to play. Or to put it more accurately, the album that turned our guitar player, Matt, into a serious guitar player.

I’ve seen Joe Satriani live three times, the first time when he was touring in support of his self-titled album (in Spring 1996). I saw him a second time on the G3 tour in 1997 with Steve Vai and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The last time I saw him was on the Engines of Creation tour in Spring 2000. It was during that third show when he played one of my favorite songs: “Love Thing.” This was also a time when I was pursuing a girl who would eventually become my wife, and this song became one we wanted played at our wedding dance two years later.

His music has served as the backdrop to the grading and the teaching prep I’ve done over 12 years teaching college English courses. His music has served as the backdrop for my countless hours of writing. His music has been the backdrop to countless drives, from the short jaunts to the multi-state excursions. His music has been some of the earliest music both of my children heard, and it has become some of their favorite music.

With each successive listen of Shockwave Supernova, I gain a deeper appreciation for the man whose music has been part of my life’s soundtrack for so many years.

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