My brother recently posted this blog, wherein he chronicled 25 memorable songs from 25 years ago, which would be 1986, the year he sort of "came of age." I was ten, so I don't remember them quite as fondly, but still, I noodled with it for awhile and decided that I could do something similar, only six years later, when I was sixteen, 1992.
However, alcohol may have addled my brain because my memory isn't as good as his, and so I took to the interwebs to see what songs were big in 1992, and came up with a lot of crap (all apologies to Nirvana.) I may have been sixteen, but I guess I still wasn't cool enough to listen to Boyz II Men or John Secada. In fact, I don't know anyone who did, and borrowing my brother's criteria, does anyone ever hear any of these songs on the radio anymore? Maybe Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway," but that's about it. Now, 1994, well, that's a whole blog post right there.
However, while noodling and driving my parents' car around while visiting over Christmas, I actually listened to the radio, and heard some late 90's stuff, and realized that similar to the way the songs of 1986 were colored by my brother's experiences as a teenager, the music of the late-90s will be forever colored/tainted by what I was going through back then, good and bad. For example, I heard Alanis Morrisette on the radio while driving around town, and I probably almost careened off the road I winced so hard. Some songs take on a life of their own and change their meaning over time, but Alanis tunes will always remind me of the awful bitch I was dating back then. I honestly don't even remember what song was playing on the radio ("You Oughta Know," maybe?), but they were pretty much all the same, anyway. Perhaps the reason I was never able to get passed the memories and take her music for what it is was because she pretty much faded into obscurity, or because negative emotions are so much more powerful than positive ones, or perhaps there was actually something very visceral about it. Looking back, was it actually kind of good? Don't they say that really great art is supposed to make you want to throw up because it does such a job on you emotionally? Is that the reason for my reaction, or was the awful bitch I was dating so awful that she has ruined that entire section of my life? I mean, I can listen to The Wallflowers or Smashing Pumkins and not want to tear my eyes out. Perhaps it's because I claimed them as my own, and wouldn't let Awful Bitch take them from me. Or maybe they're just better.
Let's look at another f''r-instance; Semisonic's "Closing Time" came on while I was driving with my brother and his family, and while discussing the the origins of the song were that the band simply needed something to end their shows with, my sister-in-law put forth a theory that the "closing time" referred to in the song is a more metaphorical time. Specifically, the "time" the singer is talking about is the period after college but before you have settled down, "time for you to go out into the world." Not literally because the bar is closing, but metaphorically, because you've graduated, and "you don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." Of course, I threw it out there that that time has not come for me yet, so I guess this bar never closes.
Personally, that song broke when I was living in L.A., and the car I was renting had no cd player, and I had no cd's to play on it even if it did. Long story short, that song was played so often that it bore a hole in my tiny pea brain and I eventually purchased the album. It wasn't that good, and I can't even remember another song from it, and I later sold it, along with the rest of my youth, online. But whenever I hear that song I am reminded of the good times I had in L.A. However, much like Alanis, I never actually hear that song unless I am driving my parents' car and listening to the radio, but when I do, the memories do start to flow.
So, tehre we have it, two sides of the same coin. Sometimes, I think that I should maybe download some of these songs. It would be simple enough, and I would always have them on hand in case I felt nostalgic. But that's the thing, do I want them? Were they any good? Have they become like Christmas music, where once a year is pretty much enough, and yet you've heard them so many times you don't really even "hear" them anymore? Would owning them somehow rob me of the memories if they became just another song in my phone, or would it finally exorcise the Alanis demon? Did the memories color them, or did they color/taint the memories? Chicken or the egg?
Thoughts? Anecdotes? An imponderable?