I was so excited when I saw the topic for this week’s Hump Day Hmmm. I have wanted to start a “Soundtrack of My Life” meme for a while, and since Julie’s roundtable topic fit, I decided to write for it instead. Unfortunately, I realized that my life in music cannot be contained in one post. I’m not sure when the other installments will come along, but today I offer you Childhood and Early Adolescence.
Music has power. It creates moods. It takes us back to a specific place in our memories. It heals people. It wounds people. It lifts our hearts up to the eternal. For me, music can be a way of returning to my roots, of remembering the people and experiences that have shaped me, of reminding me of lessons I have learned, and of taking me back to raw, real emotion when I feel that my senses are dulled.
My first memories of music come from my father, and his influence on my musical taste and experiences will weave this narrative together. More than anything else, music provides a way for me to stay connected with my Daddy. My first musical memories are of him rocking me in the chair in my parents’ bedroom, singing “Hush Little Baby.” Not too long after that, he moved on to old hymns. I had forgotten some of these memories until I had children of my own and began singing the same songs to them.
Hush, little baby, don’t say a word. Daddy’s gonna buy you a mockingbird…
Not content to leave my musical education at that, my father soon introduced his version of the classics. I’m pretty sure I knew the words to “The Boxer” long before I had any idea who Simon and Garfunkel were, and I knew tons of Beatles songs before I knew anything of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Though my Dad tried to teach me to appreciate Bob Dylan, I used to tell him to turn off that “man who can’t sing right.” Appreciating Dylan’s unique style would have to wait until I was older, but Simon and Garfunkel were a good start.
…still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest…
Some of my clearest memories of childhood and beyond center around concerts. I still remember a school night in first grade, getting dressed in my 1980’s fruit print shorts and shirt with matching pineapple earrings, rocking with my dad and brother under the speakers at a super-loud John Cougar Mellencamp concert, coming home way past my bedtime only to be thrown into the tub while my mom scrubbed off that sweet-smelling smoke. I wonder what would have happened if I had gone to my small town elementary school smelling like pot the next day?
...Oh, but ain't that America, for you and me. Ain't that America, somethin' to see baby…
Not to be undone, my brother also worked his magic on my musical tastes, making sure I learned to enjoy Prince and Duran Duran. I think I still have a few of those singles (in record form, mind you) stored at my mother’s house.
But somewhere along the way, I became a preteen girl, with preteen girl friends and terrible musical taste. Oh, how I wish I could leave this part out, but it is part of my story. It started out innocently enough, Michael Jackson and “Thriller” were all the rage. Prince was still in style, and I had their posters on my bedroom wall. But then THEY came along. If you were raised in the late 80’s and early 90’s, you know about whom I am speaking. New Kids On The Block. Yep, I loved them. I collected trading cards, went to concerts, stalked them in their hotel, and got a picture of Joey, my crush. Perhaps this awkward, cringing feeling that I have as I write that confession is appropriate. After all, this was the defining music of my preteen years, a time we almost all look back on and cringe as we think of the poor, awkward people that we were. Thankfully, this is not the end of my life in music. Keep “hangin’ tough,” and we’ll get to the good parts. Somewhere along the way, I realized that my parents and their music were much better to listen to than my friends.