Music is so important to me. It probably is to everyone. I have clear memories of musical awakenings--when you discover a perfect song or a band that you want to do nothing except play their songs on repeat until the record skips from constant use or the tape disintegrates (I am dating myself here). You know what I mean. The song whose lyrics spoke to you--the ones that could have been written by you. How did they know? Has someone else felt the depths of teenage angst like I feel? Is that what it means to be human? Is this what make me part of the universe?
|Peter, Paul and Mary|
I was healed once of a fever by that hi-fi. I had been very ill and I heard Blinded by the Light by Manfred Mann's Earth Band on the radio and I walked towards the hi-fi and laid my hand on the speaker right when the music does that bit that sounds like a roller coaster where it goes dun nun nun nun nun nun dooooOOOOOooo and just as he sang the line the calliope crashed to the ground I felt my fever break. Suddenly the achy-ness was less and I felt like I was getting better. I genuinely to this day feel that the song did it.
|The Cowsills in their groovy matching gear|
|As Casey said, "keep your feet on the ground, but keep reaching for the stars"|
I bought my first 45 record with my own money from the mall and it was Le Freak by Chic. It was the Sixth grade and the song was hugely popular. I loved the infectious call of AwwwWWWW Freak Out! and spent much of that year discoing madly in my bedroom. You can watch the video here:
But I remember when 45 records were not enough. All the cool kids had this new thing called a cassette tape. You might even be able to get a small portable player for your cassette tape! You could make mix tapes for your friends You could wait patiently by the radio for your favourite song to come on and then squeal when the opening notes started and you quickly fumbled to press PLAY. Consequently, all your favourite songs had a loud click-clack noise of you pressing PLAY followed by a DJ annoyingly talking over the beginning of the song, but you could record the song yourself! Stick it to the Man!
I still bought albums on vinyl. Mostly in the early 80's record shops still had just records. Then I would tape them by putting my portable boom box up close to the turntable speakers resulting in a very inferior recording. Anyone else remember doing this?
|the first Violent Femmes|
All through high school I was still buying music on vinyl and on cassette and religiously watching MTV. There was this influx of New Wave music that really moved me. It was perfect for an angst ridden teenager like myself (is there any other kind?) and I was consumed with it.
When I was at LC and had grown from an angst ridden teen to an angst ridden young adult, I used to love to come home for weekends or holidays and watch 120 Minutes on MTV with my Mum and teach her about all the cool alternative bands that I loved. It was a good time for us--a time where we connected rather than clashed and I would teasingly quiz her about songs and we would stay up late and listen and talk. Those were good times.
For me, every song or artist has an association--a time, a place, an event. Every song transports me back. In many ways my musical tastes are still stuck in the 1980's. I think the years when we go through puberty are the years that define us--they sear the music into our brains. We *need* the music to help us cope with growing up and it defines how we feel about life. All of our first stirring of sexual awakenings happen with a soundtrack. I started being awakened to the power of music in the late 1970's which accounts for my penchant for disco.
I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourite music in an A-Z format. With the advent of MTV, some songs are intrinsically linked to their video, others are not. Many I did not even know had a video because they came to me via a mix tape that a friend or boyfriend made me. Let me just say, I have a *lot* of favourite songs (hence why we are going alphabetically to spread them out), but I also listened to a lot of strange and interesting stuff as a teenager. I often knew the less popular/unknown songs by a famous artist because i bothered to buy the whole album/cassette and listened and fell in love with what didn't make the radio.
I hope you will discover (or maybe rediscover) a favourite song or artist from the playlist that I am planning. But be warned:
*There will be synthesizers (it was the 80's after all)
*There will be sad songs (I have a lot of Goth/dark wave influences)
*There will be exuberant but unintelligible singing
*There will be lots of songs alluding to nuclear war (I had a real fear of the Cold War and began my political activism through these songs)
*There will be songs/videos that tell a story (I am a sucker for these)
*There will be earworms
Are you ready? Then strap yourselves in and turn your speakers up.
What are your musical influences?