Since I grew up in a very conservative Christian household, we were not allowed to listen to secular music. In fact, the radio was usually tuned to Family Radio which was unexciting to say the least. So for the first thirteen years of my life, I had no idea what was going on in music. Around this time, though, my father joined Columbia House and we finally got some interesting (though unwanted) music like Baroque Duet by Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis (Eternal Source of Light was one of my favorites but I actually learned most of the album in Italian), a Ray Charles "Best of" double CD, a Motown compilation CD, the soundtrack to The Phantom of the Opera. These CDs kind of were just around but my parents didn't listen to them and I'm sure they wouldn't have approved. (In fact, I think I got in trouble one time when my dad found one opened that he didn't open.) I played them constantly and enjoyed them whenever I could--when my parents were out or busy. I entertained dreams of becoming an opera singer and was told by a few folks that I was pretty good.
Anyway, I was so woefully removed from popular music for so much of my life, I feel like I've been playing catch-up ever since. Since I hang out with folks who are usually 10 years older than me, they usually try to clown me about not knowing obviously popular songs--that I was just a thought when the song was hot. Sometimes it's true. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes I can't say for sure. Did I simply miss it because I was under a
parental rock it or did it really come out before my time?
I've been doing a good job of catch up I think. It started with my Walkman that I got freshman year of high school when I started to take the bus by myself. My little Aiwa Walkman gave me a chance to listen to music privately (it definitely didn't cost as much as the one I linked to). I began listening to Hot 97 and pretty soon, I knew all the currently popular songs. But then I started to feel guilty thinking that Christian people should listen to music that glorifies God or at least music that didn't talk about sinful things like sex. So I stopped listening to the radio. My school friend was able to procure two tapes for me: Erykah Badu's Baduizm and Room 112, 112's second album. Around junior year, I went back to listening the radio again (starting to feel trapped by Christianity or at least my parents' version) and got hooked on Jay-Z. I bought his albums and hid them lest my parents find out and bug out.
In college, I was all about reggae and built a pretty impressive reggae collection. It started out with Bob Marley (of course) and it went from there. I played this music in the house and it was the source of many, many fights between my father and I. He would swear that he smelled marijuana in my room (but it couldn't have been). But I loved reggae and needed it at that time in my life. I still love reggae tremendously but I'm sometimes surprised at how much I've branched out and reached back in time with my musical choices. I will listen to Otis Redding just as readily as Luciano or Ludacris (clean versions now because of the kids--and some tracks I have to skip altogether). I still pop in Kathleen Battle from time to time. I love soukous and rock to Fela (who was introduced to me by an ex-boyfriend). To say my tastes in music are eclectic would be a spot-on observation! I wouldn't know even know how to describe what I've got going on in I-tunes. Almost every genre (including gospel because I loves me some Clark Sisters, Tramaine Hawkins and Fred Hammond) is represented.
What am I listening to now? Peter, Paul and Mary. It's not something I would have dreamed I would like so much ten years ago but I really do.
So it's been an interesting musical journey--and it's not over yet. I still wish I could have been musical myself in some way. I think that I might like to be a back-up singer for someone. I wonder at times should I take up piano again--I did enjoy it. I'm hoping to find a secular choir or singing group to join once the kids get a bit older. I want to make sure the kids are surrounded by all kinds of music too. I'm not going to wax poetic about the importance of music but if I can convey to them the value of music, I think I would have given them a priceless gift.
I may be a very picky eater but my musical palate right now is quite broad and ever-broadening.