“Does music really affect who you are?”
I hate the question: “What types of music do you like?” Totally unanswerable, and it really won’t help you know who I am.
I love music. I can create a timeline of my life by the music I listened to (included at the end so you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to).
For me, music is a tool. I use music to enhance my moods, change my moods, increase or decrease my energy level, create an atmosphere, make me happy, laugh, cry, purify, be sulky, swoon, etc.
My parents allowed us to discover music on our own. We listened to their old records (a ton!), and I am grateful that music had always been a part of our home life whether we were playing instruments, radios, stereos, or singing.
I think about my parents’ music and how it was all pretty wholesome. I can’t really say that for all of my music. Would I just let my kids wander through my music collection? Maybe not.
But, that’s not to say it would be off limits. Music, like movies, is sometimes age/maturity appropriate.
We’ve talked here before about moderation. I would like to see my kids be into music in a big way, but not obsessed. I would love for them to listen to ALL kinds of music, but not only one kind.
I will go out on a limb here and say that for the insecure or immature individual, music can fill a HUGE void. Filling that void with dark, violent, or sexual images can only confuse such an individual. Filling that void with more positive messages sure can’t hurt.
I had a conversation with a friend in high school about music. He listened to some pretty “hard” stuff. (And I realize that “hardness” is a relative term, I am not trying to make a judgment call or single out certain genres or groups…) He told me why he loved this music; because it made him feel something. Otherwise, he felt numb. Not uncommon for a teenager, I suspect. But funny enough, the feelings he described were pretty much the dark, brooding feelings I was trying to avoid as an immature, trying-to-discover-herself teenager.
This is not to say that music is not good for a pity party, a good sulk, or a healthy rebellion. I remember specifically going through a lonely time at college my freshman year. During a break in one of my marathon art classes I blasted Radio Head’s “Creep” (the unedited version *gasp*) at top volume on my walk-man. I stood with my back against the wall feeling so alone and misunderstood. Can it get any more cliché? An art student…rebelling…with music? But I felt purged somehow. I felt better after. I just didn’t make that sort of rebellion a habit or part of my permanent persona.
Music is the heartbeat of rebellion. All the good rebellions and revolts are accompanied by great songs. Music, you see, is a double-edged sword.
I think I will let my kids make music a pleasant personal journey. I would love to be in the quiet background. I hope they, like me, will be excited to share with their parents a cool new song or a group they love. I don’t have to love it. I’m sure I will hit the point where I can’t stand “new music.” But I pray I don’t ever get there!
And I will be heralded out of mortal existence by song; one song in particular, it’s even in my will. I want to be wheeled out of the funeral to Wayne Newton singing “Danke Schoen.” I want to be sitting up in the coffin with some sort of contraption waving my arm at the crowd. Now that’s an exit. (Music swells…lights fade.)
Carrie’s Musical Timeline (by age)
0-4 We lived in Sweden with a limited music collection, but I know we had Sound of Music, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet, and ABBA’s Arrival.
4-5 My Turn on Earth, Saturday’s Warriors, Mary Poppins (the whole idea of Mormon musicals was new then and not so lame… (I still love My Turn on Earth for very nostalgic reasons) Olivia Newton John.
5-7 Back to the parents’ record collection in the states: Beatles, Monkees, Fifth Dimension, Beach Boys, the Platters, Beethoven Sonatas, and a bunch of 45’s. The soundtrack to E.T. and Annie.
8-10 I discovered pop music. I remember Queen on the radio for crying out loud and singing “Celebration” ‘til my lungs would burst. Thank you Bonnie Tyler for giving me a roller skating anthem to “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. About this time I also discovered MTV and VH-1. I became ADDICTED to videos. I would even fake illness to stay home from church so I could watch videos and reruns of “Charlie’s Angels.” During this time I was OBSESSED with first the Beach Boys and then the Beatles. I know every song.
11-13 Dance music. By that I mean music I could make up dances to. My personal faves were The Pointer Sisters and Whitney Houston’s first album. I was now OBSESSED with the Monkees (they were on Nickelodeon by now).
14-15 Introduced to punk and alternative (back when it was really alternative). Tolerated the punk because boys thought it was cool that I listened to it. Had tons of the Cure and began a private delight in They Might Be Giants. Loved Lenny Kravits “Let Love Rule.” Was beginning to get into Opera. We lived near New York so musicals were within reach and listened to often.
16-20 Eclectic. No more pop. Got into vintage stuff. Lots of Bob. College radios on the east coast rock, and gave me a good local education. Grunge happened. Bought a lot of movie soundtracks during this time I notice. Music was changing big time.
20-30 whatever floats my boat. I still love my old stuff (I even have Pointer Sisters on my blessed iPod) but I still thankfully like what’s going on. Still love Radiohead. Am enjoying some hip-hop (although labels like that make me cringe). Love disco for the dancing it COMPELS me to do. Still CANNOT CANNOT CANNOT believe that groups like Backstreet Boys, N-Sync, or people like Brittney Spears were EVER popular! That was some kind of huge fluke or wrinkle in the time space continuum. See kids? That’s why we don’t mess with time travel. It screws things up. I can see how pop can be a guilty pleasure though, so I don’t judge you Brittney CD owning people (you know who you are). I have my little (too embarrassing to mention) guilty pleasures, too.