How I Got Here: Greg Attonito, Play Date (The Who's "I Can't Explain")

 Greg Attonito

Greg Attonito

Greg Attonito wears many hats -- founding member and musician in the much-loved New Jersey-based punk band The Bouncing Souls, painter, and, with his wife Shanti Wintergate, part of the pop-punk kindie duo Play Date.  Play Date have a new Play Date album, We All Shine, coming out later this month, and in anticipation of that, both he and Wintergate have written entries for "How I Got Here," the series where kids musicians write about influential music.

Like Wintergate, Attonito writes below about a specific moment and song that played a big part in setting him down the path to becoming a musician.


“I canʼt explain” how I REALLY got here but I think if I have to choose a musical moment that played a big part in getting me to this moment... Iʼd have to go with the first time I really sang a song live with a rock band. The song was “I Canʼt Explain” by the Who.

 Greg Attonito in his dad's attic, 1988

Greg Attonito in his dad's attic, 1988

I was in high school hanging out at my friend Bryanʼs house watching him, Pete, and Sean practicing in their cover band, The Switch. They asked me if I wanted to try singing a song. I had heard them play “I Canʼt Explain” a few times before and I had the cassette so I knew enough of the words to have a go at it. I nervously grabbed the microphone as I heard those guitars and drums chopping out that intro riff... "Da DaDa Da DADA... I gotta feeling inside, I CANT EXPLAIN! Itʼs a certain kind, I CANʼT EXPLAIN! I feel hot and cold, I CANʼT EXPLAIN! Yeah, down in my soul but I Canʼt Explain!”

 The Who, "I Can't Explain" 45 cover

The Who, "I Can't Explain" 45 cover

WOW! What a feeling. I couldnʼt have put it into words at that moment but I had found a new form of expression that turned me upside down and inside out in the best way. Rock and Roll, baby! Not just LISTENING to rock and roll but becoming a part of the live beast that is rock and roll music. It was SO AWESOME! That was my first moment discovering an amazing language which gave me a deeper way of expressing myself. What a gift and what an opportunity! Performing and eventually writing music allowed me to access and share parts of myself that were totally incredible and I never knew existed. What a revelation!

When that first attempt at singing “I Canʼt Explain” ended, everybody was smiling. That moment was twenty-six years ago and I havenʼt stopped making music with those guys since. The feeling and positive experience we shared making music together eventually took us around the world and changed peopleʼs lives... Saved peopleʼs lives!! Including our own.

Itʼs not always easy to remember how important that “I Canʼt Explain” moment was for me. Its also not easy to remember it's really something special to have lots of opportunities to create that kind of moment for others.  Playing music for children and their families gives me those opportunities in a new and unexpected way all the time. I may lose sight of the potential magic, power and life changing possibilities of music but the sound and the feeling of hearing and performing good songs are constant reminders, and Iʼm so grateful.

 Greg Attonito performing at Riot Fest.  Photo credit: DT Kindler

Greg Attonito performing at Riot Fest.  Photo credit: DT Kindler

Photo credit: DT Kindler (Attonito at Riot Fest)