Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Have You Heard

NPR is doing a recurring series where their young interns review classic albums they've never listened to before. I found it when I read this article, where Clare Flynn reviews Joni Mitchell's Blue album. I love the concept. As I grow older, I despise thinking my music range is getting more archaic. In fact, I feel the music I love has barely aged at all. Yet there have been numerous occurrences when speaking to someone younger than me, where I realize my company has never listened to Led Zeppelin or thinks Pearl Jam is "classic rock" (ouch. Are they like the Stones now? and did I just make someone else's stomach churn?)

It makes me feel more camaraderie with D as we age, since we mostly grew up with and like the same music (though he doesn't get Indie and I never really belonged at an 80s White Snake concert). I'm a classic lover at heart; and by "classic" I mean the concept of something being older; having carved out a spot in the musical landscape over the years. I am drawn to the way tunes tack down moments in our social history.

That is why I want to hear what a young person thinks about an older artist and a great piece of work and how they relate to it from their perspective current day (in the muck of the influx of music nowadays). I really dig it when a friend recommends an artist or a song that they love; even more so when they tell me why it gets to their marrow or where they were in their life when it touched them. Having that background information seems to intrigue me more than if I would have found the work on my own and fallen in love with it. I guess it's an empathetic connection, a relationship to another being as I listen and make a connection to the music myself. It makes me feel not so alone in this lonely existence. I guess that's why music is so powerful in general - it speaks to us on a more primal level.

A few months ago my niece and nephews sent me some of their favorite songs and I sent them some things to check out as well. It was an exercise in bringing the generations together after a conversation at JL's birthday party about what they were listening to. I lamented that they didn't really know who Eddie Vedder was, had yet to fall in to the high school experience of Led Zep on repeat, or that they knew an artist, like Maroon 5, but didn't recognize/understand their cover of Highway to Hell.

I dug back in to my musical archives to introduce them to tunes such as: Sabotage, Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town, At Dawn, Tangerine, Back in Black, Hotel California (Live), Glycerine, Every Rose Has It's Thorn, Baby's Got Sauce, Groove Is In The Heart, Badfish, Undone, Do You Right, Faithfully, Silver Springs, Just A Girl, Dancing Nancies, Crazy, Top of the World, Dancing In The Dark, Mr. Jones...the list goes on and on. It was tempered mostly by things I thought they would love at this stage in life. I was reconnecting with memories of singing loudly in cars with friends, getting fired up for volleyball games, falling in love and heartbreak, having best friend anthems, etc...It was kind of like reading Twilight: I felt like a teenager again and I secretly LOVED the exercise.

In return, I got some recommendations from them that make me feel more in touch (rather than their old aunt in elastic waistband pants): Can't Tell Me Nothing - Kanye West, Don't Hold Your Breathe - Nicole Scherzinger, Grenade - Bruno Mars, Headstrong - Trapt, I Wanna Go - Britney Spears, Helena Beat - Foster the People, Like a G6 - Far East Movement, Magic - B.o.B, Raise your Weapon - Deadmou5, Stereo Hearts (feat. Adam Levine), Whats my name - Rihanna and Drake, Written in the Stars - Tinie Tempah and Eric Turner, Crazy For This Girl - Evan And Jaron (shout out to Dawson's Creek and more pointedly, Pacey), Here (In Your Arms) - Hellogoodbye, Pretty Girl Rock - Keri Hilson, Into Your Arms - Maine, Misery and Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5, She is Love - Parachute (though K suggested other songs), F**ckin' Perfect - Pink (which lead to Raise Your Glass), In Love with the 80s - Relient K (cover of Manic Monday is fun too), Enough To Let Me Go - Switchfoot... their lists go on and on (and to be honest, I still haven't checked out the country recs for the most part). Then there are songs I smile knowingly at: It Girl - Jason Derulo, Laffy Taffy - D4L, Cowboy's Back In Town - Trace Adkins, a dios le pido - Juanes, Better With The Lights Off - Chris Brown, as well as all the gangsta tunes that seem to be popular with white surburban youth (enter car scene from Office Space).

We already have songs and artists in common. You can imagine how happy I was to see Queen's Under Pressure (which was a favorite of mine in High School) on KS's list and to know JL likes Foster the People.

I range from 50s pop to Johnny and June Carter Cash to Fatboy Slim to Beyonce on my running playlist (it's mostly old reliables and doesn't feel all that edgy or hip). I do feel open to the possibilities and the conversation of new music. Though my musical taste aligns mostly with RL (and he never sent me any songs/artists to check out ;), I think we've started a new dynamic to our relationship. I hope they will keep me cool long after I am not and someday I will introduce them to an oldie but goody album, like Siamese Dream. sigh.


  1. ah, siamese dream. love. and nice add with elderly woman behind a counter. some of these titles take me back. and i want to make a mixed tape :)

  2. so true! I wish these guys even understood mixed tapes but they didn't even really digest the idea of making a playlist for someone else...