Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Musical rewind

So, I had this grand idea: a cd with 30 songs, one from each year of my life.

It would be a fabulously eclectic mix, chronicling my life through songs! Only... well, obviously I don't remember much about music from the first few years, and then the songs that were influential later in life weren't necessarily from the year in which I was being influenced, and then you run into the problem where 1987 had so many great songs released that year I can't figure out which to pick! It's a conundrum.

So, I'm working on a list that will allow me to put the important songs in, leaving room for years I don't remember, and still putting the songs of important years in their place, while still paying attention to the years that they're from. So, here we go!

  • 1980-"Another One Bites the Dust" - Queen. The #1 song the day I was born, according to the internet. I was obviously too busy crying, eating and being fawned over to remember.
  • 1981-"De Do Do Do, De Da Da" - The Police. Maybe the only song of the year I could accurately sing along to and still one I enjoy
  • 1982-"Maneater" - Hall & Oates. I chose this one mostly because my mom tells the story about me swearing that the lyrics were "Man heater." Personally, I like "Higher Love" better as "Iron Lung" but I doubt Steve Winwood would agree.
  • 1983-"Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" - Eurythmics. Ok, who doesn't love Annie Lennox? While I don't particularly remember this song from '83, it's been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember, so I'm gonna go with it.
  • 1984-"Owner of a Lonely Heart" - Yes. That's a "brother band"--as in things I listened to because my brother did. I still remember the time I called him to say, "What's that song that goes 'doo-doot, doo-doot, doo-doot, doo-doot, doo-doot, doo-doot, doo-doot, doo-doot'?" But that's not this song. That's "I've seen all good people"
  • 1985- "Money For Nothing" - Dire Straits. Not just because it was #1 on my birthday, but also because I remember loving the video, and honestly thinking they were talking about free chickens. It didn't seem any more or less confusing than any of the other song lyrics I knew, so...
  • 1986-"True Colors" - Cyndi Lauper, because I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. My cousin Aaron would call me "little Cyndi" which I thought was awesome, because I thought he was awesome, too.
  • 1987- Ok, not that 7 was a particularly momentous age, but a lot of great songs were about that year. Joshua Tree in particular, but again, U2 didn't really start making an impact in my life until 1996, so I'm gonna go with "Dance Little Sister" by Terrance Trent d'Arby. Again, a brother band, and this album is probably still one of my favorites of all time. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, call me. I'll fix it.
  • 1988-"Father Figure" - George Michael. My family was driving from Navato, CA out to my grandma's house in Stockton, and this song was playing. I was sitting in the backseat with my brother, and at the lyric "Anything you ask for, that's what I'll be," I remember thinking "What if I want a hot fudge sundae?" It seemed a valid question at the time.
  • 1989-"Straight Up"-Paula Abdul. Another one of the few tapes that I bought with my allowance money. I knew all the words to all the songs. Try not to be surprised.
Alright, so I'm missing a lot of cultural icons here that did impact my youth. No Madonna, even though I totally wanted to wear lace skirts with short leggings. Thankfully my mom didn't let me do that, though I wasn't appreciative at the time. Tiffany & Debbie Gibson were my other musical role models... No Michael Jackson, though I did have one of his tapes too. And there are about 1,000 other great songs from the 80s that I just love that aren't here, because I couldn't fit them in. A-Ha, Culture Club, New Order...This is harder than it looks.

  • 1990-"Step By Step" - New Kids On The Block. I went to a NKOTB birthday party that year. For my 10th birthday, my friends and I went horse back first TX birthday there. I really don't want to waste a space with this song, but I can't deny that NKOTB was a big part of my life at that age.
  • 1991-"(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" - Bryan Adams. So, I really liked the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie, and I remember my brother took me with him and some friends to see it at the Dollar Theatre, and that meant that I was marginally cooler than everyone else.
  • 1992-"Under the Bridge" - Red Hot Chili Peppers. Another song that is always linked to the music video in my head. My brother would listen to this cd after school before Mom & Dad got home...
  • 1993-"Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" - TLC. So, after we moved to Illinois, I met Kristie Gill and she introduced me to a lot of fun, crazy music. Including TLC, and Onyx and Dr. Dre... she was a pasty white girl with glasses, just like me, only she was better at dancing. Also, Blind Melon's "No Rain" should be here too, because I am the little bee girl, but in terms of musical development, Kristie opened lots of doors for me, so I think she deserves mention.
  • 1994-"Stay (I Missed You)" - Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories. Well, I was a whiny 13 yr old girl who couldn't get a date, so... um... yeah.
  • 1995-"Kiss from a Rose" - Seal. So, the first movie soundtrack that I remember buying for myself was Batman Forever, where I found the first U2 song that I knew was U2, and got introduced to a bunch of bands I'd never heard of but really seemed to like. It was the beginning of exploring music outside the radio, but only in baby steps. When Harry Met Sally is where I found Harry Connick Jr. and it's 99% of the reason I love days-of-the-week underpants.
  • 1996-"Desire" - U2 Ah... the summer of '96. I was taking Drivers Ed, and after class, I would walk to MBFJC's house, and we would watch Rattle & Hum or ZooTV... like every day. We were just discovering U2, and they became a fixture in our lives. This list could be 75% U2 if I let it.
  • 1997-"Firestarter" - Prodigy. I went to visit my grandparents and my mom's best friend Anne the summer I was 16, and we went to Lisa's Tea Treasures and some huge music store where I bought the Prodigy cd. It was... revelatory, at the time. I wasn't really into grunge, but at the end of high school, I was discovering techno.
  • 1998-"Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" - Green Day. The song of graduation, if only unofficially. It wasn't as overplayed as "My Heart Will Go On" but then again, what could be? They played it twice at prom... that's got to be some sort of serious DJ faux pas right there. Anyway, Green Day. Right. Moving on...
  • 1999- "Holland, 1945" - Neutral Milk Hotel. So, my college roommate was into way cooler music than me, and she played "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" for me, and I knew that I was hearing something special. It was my first real introduction to indie music. I started listening to college radio.
You know, it's really hard to pick songs that actually meant something at the time, and not just my favorites now. I mean, I got a great mix tape from an on-line friend that introduced me to Blur and Radiohead. I listened to that tape until it wore out driving to and from the Adler Pool the summer of '97. But just like I wasn't cool enough to be listening to The Unforgettable Fire when I was 4 (I did get it for my 16th birthday though...), I didn't REALLY start picking my music from something other than the radio until I was able to vote, so I discovered a wealth of music after the rest of the world had already moved on to much newer, cooler things. And I'm missing all sorts of musical moments, like when I thought the lyric in "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was Palomino not my libido. Lots of good songs and good bands aren't here either--Pearl Jam, Garbage, Tori Amos, Gavin Friday... all of which belong in this decade, but I only had 10 songs! It's so hard! I can't believe I didn't fit Depeche Mode in here anywhere...Alanis Morisette should be here, as should Dave Matthews, really, but I have a harder time pinning those down to specific moments. And trying not to duplicate any artist so as to get a wider range is really quite difficult for me.
  • 2000-"Electric Pink"- Promise Ring. Ah, KRNU. I wish I could go back, knowing what I know now, and do my college radio DJ days all over again. I'm at least 12x cooler now, and would appreciate it more. Anyway, New Years Eve & Day (if memory serves), KRNU did a top 100 countdown, and while this wasn't #1 (Do You Realize, by the Flaming Lips was), it was the song that stood out the most to me of those top 10. And it reminds me of Nick Kumpula.
  • 2001-"The Swiss Army Romance" - Dashboard Confessional. This is an Andrew song. Actually the whole album, of which this is the title track, reminds me of Andrew, as does Ben Kweller, Death Cab for Cutie, the Anniversary, Kind of Like Spitting... oh so many good bands he introduced me to. We went to a lot of concerts together.
  • 2002-"Mrs You & Me" - Smoking Popes. This is a Tarlowski song. We were friends briefly, and he made me one glorious mix tape, that happened to be a cd, and it was so great. Smoking Popes and the Faint. I remember we were sitting in his basement while he chose the songs... it was the end of a very weird day for me. I played DDR (so very very badly) for the first time that day. There should be Alkaline Trio here too, but this song is so delightful, I had to put it on here.
  • 2003-"Calling You" - Blue October. So, I moved to Texas, and got my first job working for a friend at his haunted house in Allen. This song came on the radio nearly every time I made the drive up there. Then, Karen (from NE) & I went to see Blue October at... the Gypsy Tea Room, I think... with my new friend Dan.
  • 2004-"The New Year"-Death Cab for Cutie. Shortly after I moved to TX, Andrew moved to UT, and he sent me a copy of Transatlanticism, because he's awesome like that. I was working retail at the time, and this song was on the pre-recorded 90 minutes of music that was piped through the speakers. It was sort of my sanity check.
  • 2005-"The Skater" - Leahy So I started dating this Irish musician, and on May 1st, 2005 we got engaged. Leahy is one of the few bands that we both love, and we've seen them live twice now.
  • 2006-"Only Alive" - Jars of Clay. When I married that Irish musician guy, we danced to this song at our wedding. My friend Paula really got me hooked on Jars of Clay, so I have her to thank for that.
  • 2007-"Chasing Cars" - Snow Patrol. Ok, the very first song on my iPod was an acoustic cover of this song by my husband. It's one of the many incredibly romantic things he's done for me over the years. (He even did the parts, so he's harmonizing with himself... he's so awesome)
  • 2008-"Dark Blue" - Jack's Mannequin. So the best thing to come out of reading the Twilight saga was music. In the very back of the books, Stephenie Meyer put this list of music she was listening to while she was writing. I looked at the list, and thought--hey, I like most of those bands. So I looked up the rest of them, and as it turns out... they don't suck. This little song makes me smile from ear to ear.
  • 2009-"Please Don't Leave Me" - Pink. Part of being married is learning how to passionately disagree without becoming ugly, hateful, hurtful, vindictive, petty and mean. I was listening to this song on the drive home from work one day after failing to do that, thinking just how much I still had to learn about how to be a wife and a better human. While I don't recommend taking relationship advice from the radio, I do love the way the music we choose to listen to is the soundtrack to real life.
  • 2010-"Gravity" - Nico Vega. The afore-mentioned friend Dan has made me many mixed cds. The latest one I got this year, and it was full of amazing gems, as per usual. I don't know what it is about this song that makes me love it so much, but I do.
So there you have it. A bizarre mix of pop culture & obscure songs. It's not comprehensive in any way. So many of my favorite songs aren't featured. Some of these songs I don't even really like that much anymore... but at the time... oh at the time they were essential. So, no use hiding from the past. Here's a cross-section of my life through music.



beylit said...

This fascinates me as I am so incredibly not a musically driven person. I mean I love music but I am so not an audiophile. Yet I have ALWAYS had audiophile friends. I suppose in a way I do not need to be because my friends do it for me.

Anonymous said...

a-ha's one big hit would have been in direct conflict with Dire Straits "Money For Nothing" on your list, so I can understand them falling by the wayside. Unless, of course, you know more than just "Take On Me" - in which case, you've earned about a million Cool Points in my book. They were my Teenage Crush Band, way back in the day...

Shannon H. said...

I love your brain and the way you write and think. The fact that you burned this CD for your party favor is the coolest thing ever.

This had to be hard to do! Thank you for sharing this with us. Love, love, love this. And I love you.

Linnea said...

And because I fail at math, the cds I burned only have 30 songs, which for 30 years seems right, until you account that there's a year 0, so there are actually 31 songs...

oh well, no one really wanted to listen to New Kids on the Block anyway...

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