Soundtrack of My Life: Professor David Schmitz

Adam Heymann

It is a gift for any music lover to live around New York City. A hub of musical innovation, New York City has been an incubator for great jazz at Blue Note Jazz Club, while punk and new wave made their reputations in CBGB and disco and dance music became popular in clubs like Studio 54 and the Paradise Garage. Huntington, Long Islander Robert Allen Skotheim Chair of History David Schmitz lived his early years less than an hour away from this developing music scene.

“I had seen a lot of the [punk] bands on Long Island and New York City, and I remember the first time I saw ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ live,” said Schmitz.

Because of these diverse experiences as a youth, Schmitz developed an appreciation for most music. Unlike many of his peers, he does not shun the ’70s and ’80s as times of musical degradation and degeneracy.

“There are genres I like more than others,” said Schmitz. “I am not of the opinion that the ’70s was this musical wasteland. I think there’s actually a whole lot of good music from that time. The ’70s gets disrespected because rock and roll fragments so much.”

As the professor of the History and Sociology of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Schmitz has an outlet to demonstrate the musical knowledge and experience he had in his life. The class also exposes him to many of the scenes and bands he didn’t know as a youth, while simultaneously forcing him to keep up with current mainstream music. As a result, Schmitz is much more aware of modern youth culture than many of his colleagues of similar age.

As a diverse music listener, The Pioneer asked Schmitz, “What’s the soundtrack of your life?”:

First Album

“I can’t be a hundred percent sure. It was either Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Paul Revere and the Raider’s Greatest Hits. What did it cost, a dollar 99?”

Last Song I Listened To

“The last song I listened to was George Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue.'”

Music I Listen to These Days

“I probably listen to a lot of music because I’m considering whether to listen to it in class. What I mostly listen to is either classical music to grade and work by, but when I’m listening just to listen to music or just to have it on, it’s mostly classic rock.”

Karaoke Song

“If I had to do a karaoke song, I’d do [Bon Jovi’s] ‘Living on a Prayer.'”

The Greatest Song Ever

“There’s a whole list, but Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run’ would certainly be at the top.”

CD collection

“My CD collection at home ranges. If I was to look right now I know there’s a CD of Celtic music in there. There’s also a CD by The Eagles in there right now. There’s also a CD by Adele, Live in London in there. There’s a Seals and Croft, I was sampling some of that for class and that goes way back. And there’s a Coldplay CD in there.”