shhh... it's a secret

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Earlier today... (or, The post that took ten hours to write)

It's Sunday morning. I'm internet-less as well as cable-less. It's wet and nasty outside. What's a "multitasking" girl to do? Well, hey! Why not catch up on my iTunes podcasts and play Spider Solitaire? Great idea!

So, I'm listening to Iron & Wine on an NPR: Live Songs from All Things Considered Podcast podcast when it occurs to me that most of my musical education has occurred at the hands of men. (A good friend of mine was recently shocked to discover that I was unaware of Iron & Wine. I was also under this assumption as I am no good at names or titles. Low and behold, I opened up iTunes and discovered that I was, in fact, already acquainted with them. I'll have to remember to tell him.)

My first recollection of being introduced to music, outside of Strawberry Shortcake and Raffi, was on a car trip with my dad to my maternal grandmother's house. He had just picked up Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet album. My sisters and I happily, and innocently, sang "Livin' Underwear" during our 6-ish hour long car ride to Long Island. I don't think my grandmother, a very prim and proper lady, was all that impressed when we excitedly told her about it. My dad's music collection also included The Doors, The Stones and Led Zeppelin, to name a few. (Now that I think about it, I believe my dad was also responsible for my introduction to the horror movie genre, but that's a tale for another day.)

My grandma (and half of my face, and a plant)

Before I continue with my masculine musical influences, I should point out that many female figures in my life introduced me to music as well. My mom was a fan of folksy soft rock like The Carpenters and Carly Simon (decidedly NOT my thing). With my step-mother, it was Top 40 tunes (aka Pop music, yuck). My oldest sister, a true 80s child, introduced me to some rockin' 80s tunes (when her musical tastes crossed over to country, I didn't go with her). My twin sister added Tori Amos and Jewel to my musical repertoire (she has since crossed that country line as well), and my younger sister, a real true tree-hugging hippie, introduced me to Ani DiFranco (we still share the most similar musical tastes. My youngest sister's last opportunity to be musically influential over me was when she was five. To this day, I cannot stand big, purple, singing dinosaurs.). My friends were all madly in love with NKOTB, which I loathed but pretended to like because in elementary school, the last thing you wanted to do was tell your friends you don't like something they LOVE (I never trusted their musical tastes after that).

Back to the men. As a young and naive teenager, my music tastes tended towards the tastes of my current crushes and boyfriends. There was the basketball player who loved Bruce Springsteen, the hockey player and the Smashing Pumpkins, the soccer player and Garth Brooks (my ONLY foray into country music), the other basketball player and Dave Matthew's Band, the musician and The Police... Blues Traveler, Bob Dylan, Cake, CCR, The Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Silverchair, Steve Miller Band, STP... all music that I once claimed to love but only listened to because of some boy (I do really like Nirvana though, and they have the honor of still being in heavy rotation).

In college and into my late-twenties, a long-term boyfriend introduced me to Against Me!, the Beatles, Ben Harper, Bob Marley, Dropkick Murphys, Franz Ferdinand, G. Love, Gorillaz, Grateful Dawg, The Grateful Dead, Incubus, Jack Johnson, Matisyahu, OAR, Phish, Rusted Root, Stringcheese Incident and Sublime, to name a few. Yeah, I liked most of this music, but enough to say it defines my musical preferences? Nah.

During my journey of self-reflection, I've set a goal to discover the music that I like because I like it and not because some man in my life liked it. I write down any artist I hear that affects me and is worthy of exploration. My self-led musical education has unearthed some old favorites that I had previously tossed aside (Fiona Apple, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, Radiohead, Candlebox...) and opened my eyes to some new faves (Adele, A Fine Frenzy, The Antlers, The Killers, She & Him, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ingrid Michaelson, you know, it would be easier if you just looked this up yourself. Scroll back up, on the right of the screen, and read Music I Can't Get Enough Of. It's not a complete list, but, whatever). 

I'm gaining a better understanding of who I am through my musical tastes. I've met two really good friends in grad school who I consider to be my soul-mates in friend form (and yes, one is a male, whom I previously mentioned) who have contributed to my current musical discoveries (Holly Miranda, Wolf Parade, TV on the Radio, Grizzly Bear...). They point me in a direction, and I'll either head down that path and like what I find, or I see where the path branches off, and I find my own way to somewhere else.

I like my music and for the first time in my life, I'm not ashamed of my musical tastes because they are a part of me and a reflection of me, and I'm starting to really like me again.

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