by Caren Crane
I think we all have a soundtrack to our lives. The music that runs through our heads as we work, play, grocery shop, order Chinese take-out or seduce our significant other. Sometimes the style of the music changes, but overall everyone has music that is theirs. My soundtrack is indie rock 'n roll or, if you prefer, alternative rock.
From the time I was old enough to form musical preferences I liked music that was different, emotional and highly danceable. Early on, I listened to plenty of my mother's music: Rolling Stones, The Who, Neil Diamond, Elton John, Bread, The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival. And also my father's: Arlo Guthrie, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Johnny Cash, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Three Dog Night. As a preteen, I was seriously influenced by my oldest sister's taste in music: Heart, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Renaissance, Al Stewart, Jefferson Airplane/Starship, Allman Brothers Band, Steve Miller Band.
And yet, for all that rich musical exposure, my first concert ever was...The Village People. But that was sort of accidental. My mother's friend worked for a radio station and got us tickets. I remember halfway enjoying it immensely and halfway being mortified to be seen there. I'm happy to say my first real concert (of my own choosing, without parental supervision) was AC/DC when I was 14. I'm still not sure how I pulled that one off, to tell you the truth. I think I went with my next older sisters' friends or something. It was awesome! That AC/DC show during the amazing Back In Black tour gave me a lifelong fondness for live music, smoke-laden venues and seriously loud, rocking party bands.
Then I discovered New Wave. When I started college, I enjoyed Men At Work, Culture Club, Duran Duran, and Prince as much as anyone else. But there were different tiers of "New Wave" music hitting the scene. Some of my personal faves: Thomas Dolby, Elvis Costello, The Clash, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Depeche Mode, Oingo Boingo, Level 42, Yaz, Adam Ant and, of course, The Police. The early 80s were a time when music was seriously fun.
Eventually, all that cool music spawned my exploration into darker, more emotive, more "real" music than we were spoon-fed on commercial radio. Some of my post-punk raves: Joy Division/New Order, The Smiths, The Violent Femmes, U2, The Cure, Pixies, R.E.M. (I'm seeing them again in June!), Smithereens, Sonic Youth and my beloved XTC. I reveled in the angst and darkness - it totally went with my punk hair!
Then I had children.
Fast forward through the 90s - a decade I barely remember thanks to the last two children, birthed a mere 18 months apart. The 90s was a time of interchangeable pop and rap with a few high points: Nirvana, The Breeders, Stone Temple Pilots, The Offspring, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis, Weezer, Soundgarden, Beck, The Cranberries. Somehow, I didn't miss all the music (though I have almost no memories of 1993 - 1996), but it's mostly because younger sister kept burning me CDs (well, okay, she made me TAPES, since it was back in the day), merciful soul she is! Those grunge and hard rock people were carrying on the angsty banner all through my lost decade.
These days, my husband rolls his eyes and asks me when I'm going to stop listening to college radio. I understand his frustration, but I like what I like. As I get older, the bands I like get smaller and less well-known, but they are still fun and lots of times full of angst. Lately, I've flirted with The Killers, Guster (most fun live band ever!), The Decemberists (okay, they're also great live), Spoon (seeing them in a couple of weeks!), Franz Ferdinand, Queens Of the Stone Age, Of Montreal, My Brightest Diamond, Les Savy Fav, Kasabian, Iron & Wine, Ima Robot, Hot Hot Heat, The Fiery Furnaces. I just found British Sea Power - new obsession (who are playing in Chapel Hill in May!).
Over the years, I've adored the sex-and-cigarettes rock of Aerosmith and the manic Cape Breton fiddling of Natalie MacMaster. I have run the gamut from the sea shanties of Great Big Sea to the big band stylings of gypsy-punk of Gogol Bordello. Though my tastes are fairly eclectic, I find that whatever I enjoy turns out to be the odd, the quirky, the not-quite-mainstream time and again. My personal, ever-changing soundtrack reflects a lifetime spent holding singular opinions, being a bit "different", taking the road less traveled and making what are generally held to be unpopular choices. My life and my music - just the way I like 'em! *g*
So, what kind of music plays on the soundtrack of your life? What do you think your music says about you and the life you lead? Remember, we love everything from ABBA to Mozart in the Lair, so even your Eddie Rabbit penchant is safe in our hands! *g*