When I was five I remember singing over and over the one stanza I sort of knew from the ABBA Supertrouper song as I poured over some Legos; my front teeth missing, and fuzzy hair pulled back into two braides. I loved to sing, even if I didn’t know the lyrics. A few years later I would spend hours learning the lyrics to all of the songs on a Belinda Carlyle tape, Circle in the Sand.
When I was ten I snuck off to the local Wherehouse on my bike to go and buy my first tape, I chose INXS Kick. Not a great album, but I chose and paid for it on my own. I would create my own harmonies to Michael Hutchence's bland one note songs; outside of the saxophone variations in the background.
I didn’t have older siblings, so I didn’t have the influence of what was cutting edge. When I was fourteen I was at a friends house up the road one summer afternoon, and heard for the first time Morrissey croon on his Viva Hate Album, Every Day is Like Sunday. His voice coupled with his lyrics, but especially the quality of his singing voice was immeasurably appealing to me.
My relationship to music by Morrissey would become deep and life long. Soon after I heard Depeche Mode for the first time. I can’t say that the Violator album is their best, but Bruce Carrveau love them, especially Martin Gore, and introduced me to his solo LP with six songs. Bruce’s singing reminded me of Morrissey, he had that quality to his voice.
I went on to date Mark my first year of high school, was in dance production at school, and found Erasure’s Wild! Tape. Yes, still tapes. I couldn’t get over that baritone sound in Andy Bell’s voice in How Many Times. How many times did I listen to that song over and over? Being a teen for me was being in deep and endless love, again and again, never with a boy who was from the same circle. I was the relationship, the songs defined my bottomed out moods. I could brood in those song, love induced moods for hours on end.
I could sneak a walk man into say an obligatory health class, and listen to d.j.s Kevin and Bean spin an amazing Boingo song on the radio, that turtle shell sound inspiring my mood to new heights, lyrics like, “You’re out of control, and you want the world to love you, oooohhh maybe you just want a chance…..” Danny Elfman, another voice I could listen to endlessly in a darkened room.
When things were at there best in my junior year with Aaron, I listened to a ton of Boingo, riding the bus home, then walking the last mile. Wild Sex (In the Working Class) gained so much meaning. An endless being of wants and desires. There was not much of a self, just a particular boy's interest in me, and songs to define my extreme highs and lows.
When we broke up, I spend endless hours listening to Depeche Mode’s 101 album. Lyrics about hallow ground, the Fragile song which years later I believe is about one of the singer's addiction to heroine or some such nouveau at the time drug. At the time it reminded me of Bruce and his drinking problems as I perceived them to be. The song Little Fifteen, Behind the Wheel, men singing with so much emotion, about love and leaving all thought behind. Stripped….down to the bone, without your television, your own thoughts, without the fumes of the city poisoning you.
Finally I was introduced to The Smiths, their endless legacy of clever lyrics and unusual Rock-a-billy sounds. Vicar in a Tutu, Ask, How Soon is Now….and back to Morrissey solo again in his Bona Drag album; “There are some bad people on the rise….bad bad people on the rise, they’re saving their own skins by, ruining peoples lives…..on a government scheme, designed to kill your dream, oh mum mum dad, once poor, always poor, lalalalala interesting drug, the one that you took, did it really help you, an interesting drug….”
I never experimented with drugs. I had boys and music and the emotions within, that was plenty.
Until I met my husband, I hadn’t really more powerful music than in those days. He had an Ani di Franco album called Living in Clip. I poured endless hours into listening to those songs while driving, particularly Shameless. The song, her voice, the instruments, the unusual beats, just made me want to shake my head endlessly and get into the space of that song. So many wonders of sound on that album.
Years before I met my husband when I was 19 I took a mass communication course. In that class I charted for the first time my media usage, how many hours I personally spent watching television, movies, listening to music on the radio, cd’s… That was the first time I discovered I could TURN OFF the external noise. To this day, if I am not in some deep dark space…last year listening for hours mostly while driving to Lily Allen’s It’s Not You It’s Me, or Depeche Mode’s brilliantly put together come back creation Wrong, I understand that it is good to just turn off the noise.
This unusual year I have spent endless hours with myself, talking to no one, listening to only my own thoughts and studying math, exercising, doing daily living chores.
Music is powerful. Our internal lives are more powerful. Music helps bring about the edge to the highs and lows. My husband’s group of friends live for Coachella and that three day cluster fuck of music and drugs. As many other working well beyond a 40 hour work week people I know, live for their concerts and debauchery that allows them a moment outside of the expected grind for material goods.
It is alright to experience natural things internally. Appreciate the occasional boost in mood and attitude a good song can provide, and then go back to surrounding yourself with your own internal noise. Look around at the teens, and adults today, who can’t walk down a side walk or enter a grocery store, let alone a gym! without an electronic sound device attached to their gourd.
Good music, good internal song.