I can’t believe that I haven’t written a single blog post about music to file under my so-called “general malaise of irrelevant topics” that “I trust you’ll enjoy.” To quote myself. [For those out there just itching to read about my version of Chilean life, don’t worry. I have a blog brewing on my experience in Graduate studies in good ol’ Chilsters due up next.]
Now, I’m not about to proclaim that I’m anywhere near being a music guru and I am certainly no Rob Gordon (John Cusack’s character in “High Fidelity,” which, by the way, if you haven’t seen it, get off this blog and go watch it immediately. You’ll thank me later.) With that disclaimer in full effect, I can attest that music has always been central to my life and many times, I find that I can remember certain periods in my life just by the music that’s playing. Also, depending on the type of music, I can even remember the point in time, historically speaking, in which it was released (or at least, was popular to me.) A great example of that was Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” album which was released in 1984, when I was a wee tyke of 7. I remember the MTV Music Video Awards when she did that risque song on stage. Pure art.
The first song I’d like to highlight from my past is one from ABBA. Man, did my mom LOVE that group and I can’t begin to tell you HOW MANY TIMES, I heard this song:
My mom obsessed doesn’t begin to cover it.
As I grew up (in the 80s, mind you), cheesy 80s love songs were released by the multitude. Elton John, Air Supply, Chicago, Stevie Wonder, Atlantic Star, Billy Ocean, Lionel Richie and many, many more flood my early 80s memories and none more so than this one:
I actually owned this cassette and played this song on repeat, just as my mom had done with ABBA. Obviously, I learned it from her. Play, Repeat.
My most significant music memories during the late 80s were related to Poison, George Micheal’s “Faith” album, Madonna, Guns n’ Roses, Bon Jovi (“Wanted Dead or Alive” poignantly stands out in my mind), and of course New Kids on the Block. (Don’t ask me what one had to do with the other as it made perfect sense to me to like all of the above at the same time. ) The late 80s also weaved in some Paula Abdul…
…and this particular song was quite popular when I was in 7th(ish) grade because the popular radio station back then, X-100, had a DJ named “Super Snake” and as you can imagine he was in his 7th Heaven with this particular song and as such, he played it constantly. Naturally I danced to it like mad in my room and watched the video incessantly. And for all my younger peeps out there, yes, Paula had a career before American Idol even became a pilot being pitched to Fox.
Believe it or not, it was also around this time that an 8th grade friend of mine introduced me to N.W.A. and I was so moved by the sheer naughtiness of the lyrics that I immediately went out and bought myself their “Straight Outta Compton” album (on cassette, of course) and I’ve since then been a fan of that particular release.
Then the early 90s hit and it seems to me that his was the time when Rap and Hip & Hop were beginning to inch their way from the city streets to middle-class suburbia and beyond. Bel Biv DeVoe were immensely popular in the early 90s and as horny little 8th grade kids attending school dances, we were all about “freaking” to this song …
and need I remind you all of this song, which came out during my 8th grade year (1990-1991)…
As you can see, and as I recall, during this time, the good came with the bad. Boys II Men came out during this time and they made singing a Capella pretty damn awesome and not to mention, popular. But the bad came with the likes of Right Said Fred and their “I’m Too Sexy” which seemed to take the country, and definitely my high school, by storm.
But how can we even mention the early 90s without highlighting the two most important music genres to come out of that decade: Grunge / Alternative Rock and Gangster Rap. Loves and loves!
Anyone who remotely knows me, knows that I have an affinity to all things Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Tupack Shakur. Frankly, with musical geniuses such as these, how can one not? As I mentioned, I had dabbled in some of Dr. Dre’s earlier work with N.W.A. but his collaboration with the likes of Snoop Dogg seriously blows my rap-inclined mind.
On the other side of this coin lies the influence of grunge music on my life at the time. I can’t say that I was fully anti-establishment and it’s not like I threw my school work out the window and blew the joint to go out and buy Doc Martens. I was never a big fan of Alice In Chains but particularly enjoyed Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana and did my part in wearing cut off shorts with thermals underneath, v-neck tshirts, flannel shirts and in sum, look like a total mess.
By the time I graduated high school, the gangster rap genre had evolved a bit to include the likes of Coolio…
…and also included the fun-loving Naughty By Nature.
When I started college, alternative rock was in all its glory: Bush, Butthole Surfers, Weezer, STP, Sonic Youth, Beck, PJ Harvey and the like were our cups of tea.
But nothing (and no one) takes me back to the early days of college like this group:
A simple message really … life IS too short, so love the one you’ve got.
College progressed, great songs were released: “A Long December” by the Counting Crows, “Love Rollercoaster” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Criminal” by Fiona Apple and of course, Dave Matthews Band became wildly popular. All of the above marked me in some way but two of the songs that stand out the most from those days in the late 90s are ones that were actually released DECADES before …
And every time, these songs take me back to driving on the California roads, dancing (or grooving) in the car with my best friends, sun overhead and our hair blowing.
The remainder of college contained music from Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, Smashmouth, Ricky Martin, Destiny’s Child, TLC, Blink 182 to name just a very few that I was particular keen on. Grunge and even Alternative Rock had subsided and with the likes of Eminem, a funnier version of Gangster Rap emerged…
And from then on, I of course became a fan of the Dr. Dre protégé!
Sigh. This felt good. I like looking at snapshots in time via music that touched me in some way. There is SO MUCH MORE too! “Son of a Preacher Man” was a huge deal for us after the movie “Pulp Fiction” came out and in fact, that whole soundtrack was a must-have at our college parties. Then there’s the music associated with the ex boyfriends, whether my own or that of my best friend’s (we each made the other listen to music relevant to our romantic relationships.) And I feel like I hardly touched on the pop music scene that exploded with the inception of “Hit Me One More Time” by Britney Spears. But honestly, who has the time for all that? I could on and you could go on reading and we’d both get nowhere relevant to the now.
But now that I think about it … if I was able to spark a little something in you, a memory, an “I remember that song!” exclamation of some sort … or better yet, if I motivated you to go back and dig up some old tunes anywhere, even via You Tube, I feel immensely satisfied as I feel I’ve done this world some service. Again, by no means do I claim to be a musical genius and I’m quite aware that you are much more likely to have further, more elaborate insight on the music of our generation.
I hope you share it with me and others. Sharing music and living music, whatever strikes your fancy, is a-ok with me. To conclude, I’ll circle back to the beginning and leave you with one last song from ABBA that really quite sums it up. At least for me.
[p.s. These You Tube videos seriously crack me up. Especially the first ABBA video with the snowman!]