Once More With Feeling

20 May

In making my best effort to let special people know who I am, I present to you my autobiography as told in music.  You can play along here if you’d like a soundtrack:

I’ve left out #somany important and good songs.  Sometimes one’s life is not best described in their ability to wave their musical taste wang about to show everyone its size and girth.  So I’ll just remind that it’s not ladylike to disclose such things to you.

I’ll warn you, I’m trying to keep it brief but we’ll see.  I’m not sorry at all though, song has been my story for my whole life.  I’ve been making mixes since I was 10, and so this makes sense.  I hope it does to you too.

Dyslexic Heart – Paul Westerberg 

This song is one of a few from the Singles soundtrack.  I can’t reiterate how my becoming actual me that exists today me started with this soundtrack.  I used to spend a lot of time hoping someone would read my mind.  (Okay still trying to fight this problem.) I laughed when I first heard this song because it’s the other side of the story.  This is the first of three straight up autobiographical songs about my adulthood found on that soundtrack.  By the way – it is my strong opinion that too many people my age spend too much time trying to play the rules of dating as lined out in the movie Swingers and not enough from the movie Singles.

I Love a Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbitt

Are there cooler songs to flex my “I grew up on Classic Country” muscles?  Yes definitely.  Are there lamer songs found in my mom’s stack of vinyl rather than my dad’s?  A quick survey of Paul Anka, the Carpenters, The Gaither Family Trio, and Olivia Newton John should answer that for you.  I pretty much wore the track out on my dad’s album for this song.  I would sing it to myself when I ran water for a bath, and when I was scared of a thunderstorm or tornado warning.  It’s also illustrative of what I require 50% of my music to be: upbeat, peppy, and wonderful.  And illustrative of how much joy the seeming “downer” things in life bring me.

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me – Culture Club

At the age of 10, I received my very first clock radio and the ability to listen to the rock and or roll music.  Consequently, I also bought my first pre-teen mag with free posters in it.  Boy George was one such poster on my wall.  I wanted to BE Boy George when I was 10.  (I didn’t understand gender or sexuality.  I did, however understand wanting colorful hair and the ability to wear makeup.)  So I would clip Pixie Tails into my hair and sing this song into my mirror.

When Doves Cry – Prince

It’s likely the grinding guitar line in this song that makes it on my pantheon list of all time favorites.  Don’t ask why 10 year-old me loved the story in it, I obviously didn’t get the gist of the story.  But yes, here it is, the reason why being given a radio at 10 years old would change my life.

I Want Your Sex – George Michael 

I’m not sure who I loved more when I was 10 years old: George Michael or Jonathan from NKOTB.  Have I mentioned I’ve never had much of an ability to sense if a man would be attracted to me?  (Hey at least George I had a chance with.) So this song defines my life because mom heard it playing while I was in my room reading and almost tore the radio out of the wall.  She banned me from current day music on the radio.  Even though I tried to convince her there was a church song on the radio:

Faith – George Michael 

It didn’t work.  And I was banished to the local oldies radio station.  (Let’s not forget that the 50s, 60s, and 70s yielded us some of the most sexual innuendo and drug reference ripe music in history.)  Like:

I Think We’re Alone Now – Tommy James & the Shondells

There’s nothing better than still being able to hear that song by Tiffany even though you’re banned from hearing it.  You know, about a secret tryst far away from the prying eyes of society.  I’m actually thankful for my forced listening to the rock & roll music that neither of my parents seemed to have attached to in their youth.  Without this time, I would probably have had a harder time attaching to it when I had more autonomy in my music choices later in life.

Thy Word – Amy Grant

My Grandma would send me Christian singers’ tapes for holidays and let me take them home when we visited her.  For the most part they were has been or locally popular artists.  (Did you know that Aileen Quinn, the movie Annie, became a Christian chanteuse in her teen years?)  I was especially attracted to female artists who became popular when they were teenagers.  At the same time began my indoctrination into conservative Evangelical Christianity via church camp.  This was a campfire song.  I actually still love Amy Grant because she describes her blazing a path into “crossover” music with “tits to the wind like a lady on a ship.”  There’s a certain amount of mad respect in my feminist heart for a woman who bore the brunt of accusation for ruining her first marriage when her ex remarried faster than she did.  (Implying to me that Vince Gill wasn’t the only other person in that relationship.)  Amy Grant and Sandi Patty getting divorced spurred my first questions against the conservative dogma with which I was raised.  (This is also one of the piano songs I can remember how to play to this day.)

Luv is a Verb – DC Talk 

I think it’s easiest to say that a good part of middle school is best described as a “parallel lifestyle.”  Nashville started churning out Christian groups with the right message to go along with that hip music.  DC Talk, graduates of Falwell’s Liberty University, proved themselves versatile to many styles of music.  This was during their rap/hip-hop phase.  They then had a grunge phase and a singer songwriter phase.  Because in Christian music the message is more important than the medium.  This song makes me giggle, and I apparently still know all of the words.

Beyond Belief – Petra

There were several hair bands in the Christian realm.  Petra was one of them.  I’m including them here because between Dc Talk and Petra, that’s 2/3 of my very first concert ever at Red Rocks.   (PS I was sad that they were only playing their praise and worship music and not any of their earlier actual rock.) There was good metal in the Christian musicverse, but I didn’t really find it or like it until later.  (Ooooh feel the foreshadowing!)

If I Ever Fall in Love – Shai 

I started having crushes on boys when I was in 4th grade.  By and large everything remained unrequited until I turned 19.  There are so many countless songs about someone not knowing you’re in love with them, or are about someone falling in love with their friend, and et cetera and so on.  This is one particular one that I would hum pretty often under my breath during the dramatic 6th-8th grade years.  And thus we march on into High School.

Nothing Else Matters – Metallica

My life faced a significant shift in perspective and knowledge that started in late 8th grade and continues until now.  My family relocated to Durango, Co.  One of the important things to note about this geographic movement is that I now had more neighbors than just 1 close to my age.  And of my two closest girlfriends in high school, neither was very religious like my other friends were.   Both of them were/are Metallica fans.  I include this song because it’s the only love song that the boys sing, and also because my move to Durango signifies an opening of my mind that wouldn’t have happened had we stayed put in Longmont.

Black – Pearl Jam

One of the best things about discovering the Ten album is that I discovered this song.  It is the best song to split a list in  half.  I’m hoping this is halfway.  It’s one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs.  It should be known that one of the best uses for the perfect mix tape is for driving music.  And being 16 was a blast. (Except when you include Jackyll.  Please notice they are not included. Yes that’s an inside joke only understood by one person.  No I don’t care if that’s not you.)

I’m Going Slightly Mad – Queen

I was a theatre kid.  Theatre significantly split my mind wide open to new ideas and to very good people.  In high school, our theatre friends who were GLBT were very firmly closeted.  Most came out the year after they graduated. I still believed at this time that being gay was a sin and possibly a psychological condition.  I’m not proud of this strange view I had of people who I love very dearly, but it was there and took about 2 years into college to see scientific and relational evidence that what I had been taught was not true.

Farenheit – Five Iron Frenzy

Ska was a thing in the mid 90s.  The guys and girl in Five Iron are very dear to me. Though this isn’t my favorite song of theirs (see prior blogs), it definitely symbolizes my steps in the direction of true acceptance of all of my friends.  University in general was about teaching me how to be real and authentic in my relationships with people and also with my deity.

Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns – Mother Love Bone

At 19 years-old, I discovered grunge music more fully.  I also had my first honest to goodness real boyfriend.  And first kiss.  I’m pretty sure I was Chloe heading into that relationship and the narrator in the song walking away when it got scary.  It’s the kind that moves on, it’s the kind that leaves me alone. This song comes pretty close to best favorite song ever.

Flying Dutchman – Tori Amos

Directly after the above events, I met a very cool friend online.  We communicated with one another through mix tapes and he introduced me to Tori (which lead to me finding Neil Gaiman among other things) and to the Young Ones.  Among other things.  He’s still dear to me and I owe a lot of wonderful things to the Great Hoodoo.  I know this is probably blasphemy for him to think I’d say this, but if he left the Milky Way would indeed be dressed in black.

Stein’s Theme – Project 86

I promised metal earlier but none of it fit or made sense to where this thing seems to be leading.  I’ve just realized a lot of the music in this list has been brought to me through friendships with new and different people.  Project is no different.  Of course now in retrospect listening to one of my favorite songs by this band, I can see how it needed to fit very specifically into a life where I needed to scream (this band) and growl (other bands not listed here) and yell because it was the only way I was allowing myself to feel anything at the time.

Faded Away – Fatal Blast Whip

And be slightly creeped out by my music.  It should be noted that I wanted to list the song Mirror by lVl, but he unfortunately only exists on Spotify as a remixed ghost of himself.  So I guess I’ll just tap the bridge of my hip dark rimmed glasses and say you probably haven’t heard of him.  Fatal Blast Whip falls into the category of plonky electronic music that I really adore and that I will do just about any kind of work to.  If you read any of my blogs, they’re usually created with something crunchy like this.

All My Favorite People – Over the Rhine

In the same space of time that I needed to scream and growl and yell, I also needed a voice and music that would wrap me in a warm blanket and remind me that we’ll figure things out and make them alright.  There is not another band or songwriter out there writing exactly how I experience life other than this one. Linford and Karen regularly script exactly the things I was thinking.  And if I ever could take lessons to make my singing voice sound like someone’s it would be hers.

In a Sweater Poorly Knit – mewithoutyou

In the hot midwestern summer I once drove a car halfway across the country with one of my now dearest friends.  And we thought philosophically how modern and wonderful we were to listen to Aaron and his band.  She is now one of my closest and dearest friends and mewithoutyou will always be a band that I catch live as often as I can.

Secret of the Easy Yoke – Pedro the Lion

This song, though it belongs timelinewise up with Project 86, belongs here.  If I ever wrote a Dear John letter to organized in a building church, this would be it.  There was a moment when I realized I just didn’t want to go anymore.  And I’m still not sure what that means.

When I’m Small – Phantogram

This is the newest song on my list.  There are several bands introduced to me by various exes.  Sometimes it’s okay if the only thing left after a relationship is that you got the appreciation of a new band out of it.

High Low Middle – My Brightest Diamond

There was a time in my life when I had everything I ever wanted and had less than I’d ever had.  It was truly the best of times and the worst of times and this song embodies that.  (And also features one of my fave musical-type performers in the music video.)

Seasons – Chris Cornell

Likely I framed this little autobiography in this soundtrack because of recent events.  So be it.  But if there ever was a voice that moved me in crazy primal ways it was his.  And if there ever were lyrics describing a more perfect person for me than this:

If I should be short on words
And long on things to say
Could you crawl into my world
And take me worlds away

Then I’ve not heard them.  So there you have it.  Me.  In 25 songs that have been important to me in one way or another in the past 39 or so years.

Author’s Note: Man, am I glad I didn’t make this a Facebook post.  Copy/paste that meme.  Haha.  

Author’s additional script: It really is fascinating to me that these songs really do represent different people being introduced into, and thus changing my life.  I’m sure there’s an entire book in the idea that I’ve not actually grown on my own whatsoever.  




One Response to “Once More With Feeling”

  1. Lydia 05/22/2017 at 5:40 am #

    What a great post. Thanks for sharing it with us. I feel like we just took a stroll down memory lane together. 🙂

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