Thursday, April 19, 2012

Music and Memories

This is slightly different than Postman's music post... but this memory kept coming into my head whenever I tried to think of a song to write about. So here it is.
I was 13, or somewhere close to that awkward, gangly, just-drifting-into-self-awareness age, and my music repertoire seemed to consist of Amy Grant, Hill Song, the Barlow Girls- in other words, soft and appropriate girly Christian singers.
I don't want to blame my mother. I am not saying that at all. And we did have lots of Beatles, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison drifting through the house. It's just, I don't know, I wasn't allowed to listen to the Spice Girls, N*SYNC, etc. I wasn't even allowed to listen to the radio, except the Christian station. I thought that rock and roll was evil. Corruptive.

But, when I was 13 or so, I did a lot of babysitting for my parents. And as a reward, every once in a while, my mom would take me to the Christian music store and let me pick out a CD.
This one time, the time I'm talking about, I was browsing the store. I found a CD with a bright pink cover, and it drew my eye. I pulled it off the shelf- Relient K. I had no idea who they were, what it was, but I took it over to the CD player and popped it in.
it was-
so dirty-
So very, very, unlike anything I'd ever heard before.
After the first few seconds of drums and insane guitar this sweet boy's voice was sing/speaking so quickly I couldn't understand the lyrics.
I stood there, mesmerized by the bass and the utter energy that came through the headphones and flooded my body. It made me feel angry a bit, passionate, like I wanted to run around and break things; shake my head and stomp my feet. It was as if They knew exactly how a confused, angsty teenager felt, and had put it into music and were commiserating with me. I couldn't get enough. I skipped through all the songs, listening to the first 30 seconds of each, and I was in love. Whoever these guys were, I had to hear more. Every day. All the time.
I knew my mother would never buy the CD for me. But I asked her anyways, and even made her listen to the first track, and she shook her head and took off the headphones after the first few seconds. Her brow wrinkled and she looked disappointedly at me-
Honey, I am not buying you this. Are you sure you don't want the new Jacqi Velasquez tape? Or that Point of Grace CD instead? What about this Rebecca St. James, she sounds good. I'll get you that instead.

I argued a bit. Probably whined. But she didn't buy me the CD.
I thought about them for a long time afterwards. Everything I listened to was too slow, too flat, too booooor-ing. Something I had heard on that Relient K CD had awoken something inside me, and it wasn't going away. I felt trapped, stifled, misunderstood. Unhappy for no apparent reason.

Christmas morning we were unwrapping our stockings, and I found the tell-tale perfectly square, flat shape of a CD. As I was unwrapping it, I spotted something hot pink. My heart sped up, and I ripped off the paper. There it was.  For some reason unknown to me even to this day, my conservative protective mother had changed her mind and bought me this punk rock boy singer's CD.

And so began my love affair with Relient K, the first punk-rock band I had ever heard. I got my brother and sister addicted too, and I swear they are the band that opened all 3 of us up to secular music and an entire exciting new world we didn't know had existed. My mother too gradually became way more liberal, and guess what- last Tuesday she even came to the Coldplay concert with me. Progress, friends, progress.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Music Obsession

Lana Del Ray is like ADELE for troubled, wrong-side-of-the-tracks, "bad" girls with major daddy issues and only slight drug problems. Who normally love hip hop and punk and ripped jeans but who have enough money from their parent's divorce to go to every show in town. 6 months after first hearing her and I am still obsessed without not really knowing why...

It's grungy and gritty and shiny and trashy but completely unlike Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. Her songs are dark, sad, and you can almost hear her putting on a brave front to cover her vulnerability as thick as the pancake make-up on her face. The sound has got that rare underlying thread of truth to it, buried deep in an effort to be mainstream, but still- there is talent there. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Well Wishers

I think it's kind of sick and twisted. At least, it makes me feel wrong in some way, and I can't figure it out yet whether it actually it wrong, or if it's just societies morals. But he makes such darn good playlists! Seriously, le Terrible has an incredible talent for putting together a list of uncommon songs that flows and is interesting; so good in fact that even though I hate his guts I can't stop listening to them. And my family can't either. Even my father thinks he has great taste in music and plays his "Waterloo Sunset" playlist (created circa 2008) on repeat while he's cooking. And my sister D, who disliked him from the very beginning 5 years ago, will put on a list of his songs from 2010 at a party.

Every time I would go travelling he would make me a playlist (or 4). And I would listen to them over and over and over again, while on a train, or an airplane, or trying to sleep in a hostel. They made me feel safe, like I was in a movie and could deal with any problems that came my way.
But it feels wrong to listen to his music and get such pleasure out of it when it is tied to him so indelibly. Some part of me wants to ask him for a new playlist for my upcoming trip, but how could I use someone like that, especially when I refuse to even acknowledge his presence in the halls or on the street? I am not superstitious, but those playlists seem to have brought me luck and safety when I am vulnerable and alone on the other side of the planet, and I feel uncertain about embarking abroad again without one on my ipod to listen to while waiting to catch a flight in a foreign airport. It's such a contrast to how he himself makes me feel, which is angry, anxious, and sad.  It's like HE is out to get me, but his music makes me free. Sigh.