i don’t remember exactly when my relationship with music began, because i’m pretty sure it began before i can remember. i really like to attribute that early music consciousness to my mom.
i ALWAYS remember listening to music when i was young — singing in the car, dancing along to our record player(!), blaring my stereo angrily when i was mad. i might be the one who introduces her to bands these days, but when i was in high school, my mom was always ahead of the power curve. my friends thought she was cool because she listened to the same music they did. she liked the foo fighters and soundgarden before i did. etcetera.
i think she probably had better taste in music than i did when i was younger, because you know, i was blinded by what was wildly popular. so, what follows are some of the highlights of my music fan history, in honor of mother’s day. i think she’ll remember all these pretty well.
wham!, “wake me up before you go-go” (1984)
cyndi lauper, “time after time” (1984)
in 1984, i was three years old. (all year. my birthday is january 1.) these are the first two songs i can actually remember knowing the words to — i actually have memories of singing along in the car. and i don’t remember EXACTLY when this happened (not in 1984 i guess) but cyndi lauper’s she’s so unusual was definitely the first cassette tape i owned. we bought it at the target right by our house.
tiffany, “i think we’re alone now” (1987)
do you guys remember these things called pocket rockers? little fisher-price personal stereos. THEY WERE SO COOL. i had one. i had almost all the little miniature 8-track tapes. it was my favorite thing ever. i probably could have picked the bangles “walk like an egyptian” or “manic monday” here, but that tiffany song was i think my favorite. pocket rockers. man, those were the best.
paula abdul, “opposites attract” (1989)
forever your girl was the best album of the late 1980s and that is not debatable. i had a large poster of paula abdul in my bedroom. she was my idol. i used to talk to it. every single song on this album is amazing but i featured this one because the music video is paula dancing with an animated cat by the name of mc skat kat, who according to his wikipedia page had a solo album in 1991 and falls under the genre of “hip hop.” so. as i was saying. not debatable.
new kids on the block, “you got it (the right stuff)” (1990)
new kids on the block were the boy band that started it all. as a nine year old girl, it makes complete sense that this is the music i would be listening to. i remember a LOT of dancing around the living room to the songs on step by step. goooood times.
fun fact: i will be attending the nkotb / 98 degrees / boyz ii men concert on june 28. i am in no way ashamed of this. i mean, please. that is so much nostalgic awesomeness.
counting crows, “mr. jones” (1993)
my fandom of counting crows was probably around the time i started appreciating “better” music. august and everything after will always be one of my all-time favorite albums. i don’t remember when counting crows stopped being my favorite band, but as i believe i’ve said before, it probably coincided with me replacing them with matchbox twenty a few years later. that said, the fact that august holds up as an album for me even today says a lot for my budding good taste in music back then.
mariah carey, “fantasy” (1995)
this song just holds up. pretty sure nobody had more hits than mariah back then. i used to habitually watch mtv’s top 20 countdown on friday nights, and i’m pretty sure a mariah song of one sort or another was always number one around these years. dreamlover. fantasy. always be my baby. one sweet day. they all hold up, actually.
matchbox twenty, “push” (1997)
oh man. “push” started a revolution for me. matchbox twenty was, until maybe a year or so ago, my favorite band. “push” was the song i would play loudly in my room when i was angry. still is. (it works REALLY well for that, by the way — just go listen again. go ahead, i’ll wait.)
which is why when you hear me say i’m having a “matchbox day” it usually means I’m in a bad mood. not always, but usually. that said, i’ve seen these guys live 6 or so times. they were the first concert i went to without my parents, right before my senior year of high school. amazing live band, with a criminally under-appreciated catalog of music (up until their newest album, which no offense, i did not care for much).
backstreet boys, “i want it that way” (1999)
the musical obsession of my life. not even kidding how much i loved the backstreet boys. i memorized every word to every song, every dance move in every music video, set my vcr for every interview and appearance they did on tv. when the into the millennium tour did not come through san diego, my sister and i were crushed, so i tricked our parents into taking us on a “family vacation” to las vegas so we could see them at the mgm grand garden arena. the highlight of my 18 year old life was on October 16, 1999, when we ran into a.j. mclean rushing through the food court at the mgm surrounded by several large security guards a couple hours before the show, and he touched our hands.
oh yes…that happened.
* * *
let’s fast forward a little over 10 years later. in 2010, when i wanted to go to austin city limits music festival and didn’t have anyone to go with, i sent my mom the lineup, pointing out friday’s bands.
i remember her saying this: “blues traveler, spoon, broken bells AND the strokes? we HAVE to go to that.” so we did.
just my little way of saying that my mom was cooler than yours back in the day, and still is.