Throwback Music Memories
Something of a music aficionado/savant, my husband remembers hearing rock songs on the radio as early as age 6. I didn’t lose my musical virginity until about age 11, with the simultaneous purchase of the Journey “Escape” and Foreigner “4” albums. Today you can’t turn on the radio (AM/FM or Sirius) – at least in the Phoenix area – without being inundated with Journey, particularly “Don’t Stop Believing.” That song has moved from one of my lifetime favorites to my list of “I’d Be Happy to Never Hear It Again.”
John and I don’t watch a lot of network TV, but we have tuned in to the music contest shows, most notably The Voice, over the years since we’ve been together. I don’t have the technical music terms to describe why I like or don’t like particular songs or performances, but when I say “It’s too pointy” or “She really sounded off tonight,” John knows exactly what I mean and tells me I have a good ear for a non-musician.
The other night, The Voice featured a guest performance by Michael Bublé. He has a nice enough voice – God bless him and the people who enjoy him – but after the first verse, I think I might have been snoring. That old crooner style is the some of the most boring music I’ve ever heard. I’m no fan of hip-hop, but I’d take it any day over Bublé, Harry Connick, Jr., and even Seth McFarlane’s attempt to mimic Sinatra. Just days prior, I’d spent the weekend listening to a host of mostly local rock bands at an annual arts festival. (I snoozed through the Phoenix Ukulele Club’s version of “Frosty the Snowman” and other traditional carols.) The highlight for me was a punk version of the Christmas classic, “Feliz Navidad.”
This got me to wondering how much of my music taste is inherent – and how much of it was influenced by the happenstance of the music I was exposed to. I grew up in the ’80s when “alternative rock” was still a relatively new concept, and to this day I still prefer UK artists like U2, Sting, New Order, the Cranberries, and the Cure over almost any other kind of music. But maybe if I’d grown up in the ’40s, I’d have quite enjoyed that crooner stuff I find so distasteful today. Usually able to tune out commercials, I noticed yesterday that a particular investment bank is using a song from my youth in its newest TV spots – “One Thing Leads to Another,” by The Fixx – which means they’re definitely targeting people in my age range, and it’s working.
We went out to breakfast yesterday for my husband’s birthday, and as we were pulling into the driveway on our return, I heard the first few bars of one of my favorite ’80s songs, “Melt with You,” by Modern English. John turned the engine off and the music quickly died. “Awwww,” I whined, quietly.
“What?” he asked, concerned.
“It was ‘Melt with You.’ One of my favorites.”
“Well, I’m sure with the push of a button or two, you can hear it momentarily in the comfort of the house,” he chirped. “It’s not like you have to sit around with your cassette player ready, just waiting for it to come on. Kids Eric’s age would never believe what we used to do to get our music.”
I laughed so hard at that memory. If you’re older than, say, 45 and you grew up in an American city, you can probably relate. Fortunately, every radio station had DJs back then, and the good ones would announce the songs they planned to play next, so you’d have time to get your blank tape situated in the cassette deck, finger poised to press the RECORD button. Even so, every mix tape inevitably had a song that was missing the first bars or one with the idiot DJ talking over the music. Still, it was cheaper and more convenient that getting yourself to the record store and plunking down $7 or $8 for a cassette that held an album’s worth of music when all you wanted was the hit single.
I know nothing of my son’s taste in music. I feel like those old people we used to see in comic strips and sitcoms – the ones who complain about the music tastes of “those youngsters.” Here’s a screenshot of the MUSIC tab from Eric’s Facebook page.
Seriously, I’ve never heard of any of them. I know his dad and I share a preference for the Coffeehouse acoustic station on Sirius – and Eric makes fun of it every time the two of them drive together. One thing is sure: music tastes and formats change. I’m still grateful every day for being married to an incredibly talented musician who constantly brings music and song into our house – especially since we’re pretty much on the same page in terms of what we like.
Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, and consultant who coaches other authors to make and market exceptional books that change the world for the better. She is birthmother to Eric, who recently graduated from college and began his engineering career. Their adoption has been open for the better part of Eric’s life. She continues to toy with the idea that these posts will one day become a book. In the meantime, you can learn about the first book from her brand new publishing company, Panoply Publishing.