Last night, I was driving around with a friend and we switched from Christmas tunes to some of our favorite old music; The Smiths, The Cure, The Pogues, The Jesus and Mary Chain, R.E.M., New Order, Siouxie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, The Violent Femmes, The Clash and Public Image Limited. She asked me to stop when we came to New Order’s Temptation on my iPod, which I probably hadn’t listened to in over ten or fifteen years. I joked that I would never remember the words, but as the techno beats hit my speakers, my voice found comfort in their old lyrics and I was once again transfixed to 1990, remembering every word.
For me, music is like a scrapbook, reminding me of certain periods of my life and always weaving bittersweet memories through the words and notes of each song. Whenever I hear Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Judy Collins, The Grateful Dead, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin, I am reminded of my childhood where their liberating songs found a resting place in my mother’s home. At my father’s, it was Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Harry Chapin. 80’s Punk and Alternative is definitely the music of my teenage years and whenever I want to feel young again, I return to The Smiths and The Cure. In the last 20 years, I’ve listened to varied music and have learned to enjoy most of it, especially country. I’ve also learned to not turn my nose up to or refuse to listen to music I don’t know or understand, because I may find something I enjoy in music I don’t yet know.
My husband Alex has really helped me to appreciate the great electronic dance music DJ’s of our generation and how the entire resurgence of music festivals built around these DJ’s is once again a liberating time for our youth, much like the late 60’s and 70’s. Ahhhh…the times they are a’changin!
My mother stopped listening to some of her favorite music over time. Just when I learned to really appreciate Bob Dylan and Judy Collins, she’d ask me turn it down. When I asked her why she didn’t like to listen to it anymore, she’d reply that it made her sad and that she didn’t want to be reminded of certain times in her life, especially her drinking career, when she listened to that music most. In her later years, she was more drawn to Janet Jackson, Garbage, Bob Marley, Madonna and the Barenaked Ladies. She hated country and said it was “twangy” and never appreciated Patti LaBelle stating that she thought she shouted more than sang. Although I totally disagree, it shows that people can introduce you to music but you don’t have to necessarily love it. She would have loved Lady Gaga, of that I’m sure.
While driving around, I was reminded of so many musical periods of my life, especially the first time that I learned that to know all of the words to a song shows pure fandom. I was about 13 and my cousin Caroline was 16. She watched me a lot one summer when my dad had to work all day. We would drive around and I was mesmerized by her diet of one Hostess ding-dong and about 100 Diet Cokes, resulting in the perfect, tanned body. (I do not endorse nor recommend this diet, but it apparently worked wonders for Caroline!) What I was most intrigued by was that she knew every word of Janet Jackson’s Control album. She would play the tape on both sides, all day long, uttering every word perfectly. I was entranced. She was so cool! Actually, she still is pretty cool!
It wasn’t until the other night, dancing and singing in my car, when R.E.M.’s It’s the End of the World As We Know It came on, and I knew every word, that I realized, just like my cousin, how really cool I am too! cool Some things never change but music helps us realize who we really are deep down under all our beauty and flaws!
I’m just proud of myself for still knowing all of the words. If you don’t know the song, I posted my favorite performance of it below. If you know the words…try and keep up! I dare ya!
*Let me know what songs impacted periods of your life in my comments below!