Music has always been a big part of my life even though I wasn’t born with talent as a musician myself. Unlike with writing, I have never been bothered by lacking this innate aptitude many others enjoy and I’ve taken up my lot in life as an enthusiastic fan. From an early age I was blessed to possess my very own compact turntable and I collected 45’s of my favorites so I could play them ad nauseum. My first favorite song ever was You Never Promised Me A Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson (remember Hee Haw!) and I think I made my family crazy playing it over and over and over until YMCA and then Funkytown took its place. By the time I was nine or ten, I graduated to full albums and collected everything by Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garret (my secret boyfriend), the Jacksons and the Osmonds (I liked Jimmy but he wasn’t a big star like his other siblings).
Of course I was highly influenced by my older siblings tastes so by my teen years I was turned on to a wider range of artists including Boston, The Eagles, The Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton (my older siblings) and The Clash, AC/DC, Yes, U2, The Kinks (my brother, Jeff who was two years older than me). I borrowed their albums and sometimes returned them with scratches, much to their dismay, which probably caused them to hide them on me. My dad was no fan of AC/DC and I recall an incident where he broke one of their albums over his knee due to unwholesome lyrics, I guess. It was the same album I brought to play at our catholic school’s sixth grade Christmas party and I was probably lucky there was no time to play it because I might have been expelled.
High School was a time I came into my own as far as musical tastes went. The early years were Loverboy (my first concert sans parents), The Little River Band, Journey, Tears for Fears, Culture Club and Prince. When I discovered Prince, everyone else took a back seat and I’d play and pause the albums (particularly 1999 and Purple Rain) on my cassette player while I’d write the lyrics in a notebook so I could sing along. Kids these days don’t know how good they have it with the internet as lyrics were not always included in the liner notes. One of my bucket list items was to see Prince in concert and luckily I crossed that off when he came to Boston and I made the six hour round trip trek to hear him from the top of the bleachers. It was a moment in time I’ll always cherish. It’s a good thing my dad didn’t take note of his lyrics as I’d have a lot more broken albums on my hands.
I started to learn about heartbreak as I moved onto college and there would be playlists to recover from these season of life events. Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive was the gold standard of breakup songs along with Nothing Compares 2 U, Missing You by John Waite and anything by Natalie Merchant and Alanis Morissette. My last really hurtful breakup was in 1997 and I spent hours driving around listening to Chris Isaak’s Forever Blue (my newest favorite artist after seeing him on a Friends episode) until I was out of tears. Listening to his live rendition of his iconic song Wicked Game (also a good break up song) was the background music of my impromptu engagement in 2002. It was my very first Chris Isaak show, another bucket list event and special memory.
There are many, many other musicians I enjoy and when a song I haven’t heard in years pops up on the random selection feature of my iTunes library, I am often pulled back into the past to relive a time when I played them over and over, the times vivid once again, both good and bad.