Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Meme Stops Here

I’ve been “tagged” with a “meme” by Kimbo. While this sort of thing can be fun, I am still a little grumpy about the term meme. I liked it better back in my college days when the word meant “speech virus”, not “unpleasant public blogsturbation”, but oh well. That crotchety reluctance of mine to let go of the past will surely make this trip down memory lane a particularly pungent and festering one.

1. Go to
2. Pick the year you turned 18
3. Get yourself nostalgic over the songs of the year
4. Write something about how the song affected you
5. Pass it on to 5 more friends

I will not do all these things. I refuse, on the grounds that I could never select only five friends to share this joy with. Please understand that I have far too many friends to ever narrow it down. I will, however, attempt the first four. Here goes.

November 29, 1992 - March 5, 1993: I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houston
The reaction of space aliens to this hideous shrieking in an episode of Futurama pretty much says it all: “The humans are attacking! Pluck the lower horn and let’s get out of here!”

March 6 - March 12: A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme) - Peabo Bryson & Regina Belle
After the relative high points of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, I was pretty disappointed in the corny superficiality of Aladdin and that includes this song. One of my least favorite of all crappy movie cliches is having a corny R&B song play over the end credits, especially when the movie is set in a time or place where violently sh*tty R&B songs like this are mercifully unknown.

March 13 - April 30: Informer - Snow
I assumed that this guy was another Vanilla Ice and never paid it any attention. Later, my black friend said this Snow character was actually OK and semi-respected in dancehall circles. At the time I was confused. Now I just don’t care either way.

May 1 - May 14: Freak Me - Silk

May 15 - July 9: That's The Way Love Goes - Janet Jackson
God, no.

July 10 - July 23: Weak - SWV (Sisters With Voices)
Oh for Christ’s sake.

July 24 - September 11: I Can't Help Falling In Love - UB40
Ah, the band that singlehandedly turned reggae into flaccid elevator music, although to be fair the Police did pave the way. Eat sh*t and die, UB40, wherever you are.

September 11 - November 5: Dreamlover - Mariah Carey
What the f*ck? Simon Cowell must have blown a load in his little British boxers every four to five minutes throughout 1993, because damn this year seems to have sucked with an unfathomable, golden-age sort of Biblical suckitude that American Idol only dreams of.

November 6 - December 10: I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) - Meat Loaf
The second most unintentionally homosexual song ever recorded, right after “I Want It That Way”.

December 11 - December 24: Again - Janet Jackson
Again? Her? W, as they say, TF?

December 25 - January 21: Hero - Mariah Carey
I feel like killing myself. Somewhere, Simon Cowell’s giant, crimson, Frankenstein-rectangular head is cackling maniacally at me.

The fact that someone has saved that list and posted it on the internet is, to me, conclusive proof that there is no God.

What was I actually listening to in 1993? I was not very musically sophisticated in high school. I liked rock, and that’s it. Our family had just barely moved from records and tapes to CDs, and I mainly listened to tapes I made of “classic rock” radio and the emerging stirrings of grunge. Zeppelin. Cream. Hendrix. Pearl Jam. Stone Temple Pilots. I bought the first Rage Against the Machine album around this time, but not because I particularly liked hip hop (I didn’t, yet) but because aside from the vocals it sounded like the kind of rock music I liked. I tried to appreciate some classical music, but I only liked the kind with loud noises at the end, like Beethoven’s odd-numbered symphonies or the 1812 Overture. Classical music that sounded as much like classic rock as possible, in other words.

Then I went to college, and several things changed. I was quite lonely my entire freshman year. I had almost no friends and no car. But I had some leftover scholarship money, and walking down to the record store was one of the only things that cheered me up. Aside from the obligatory Bob Marley and Cypress Hill CDs that every college student is issued at the door, I bought many CDs in the second half of 1993 and the first half of 1994, including:

Pearl Jam, Vs.
Soundgarden, Superunknown
Counting Crows, August and Everything After
Lizst, A Faust Symphony
Beethoven’s Complete Symphonies, Solti
Holst, The Planets
Morricone, The Mission Soundtrack
Orff, Carmina Burana
Monty Python, The Final Rip-Off
PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
Wu Tang Clan, Enter the 36 Chambers

I’m the most proud of the last two, which I bought on whims after seeing like 20 seconds of their respective videos somewhere. Wu Tang opened up a world of new music to me, and Harvey’s has turned out to be the only CD out of all those which I still play regularly and her subsequent albums have been the soundtrack to a lot of my life. As you’ll notice, otherwise these albums were not much of a departure from my previous rock and rock-like-classical tastes, but the extra scholarship cash enabled me to branch out a bit into slightly uncharted waters. One thing I realize now, thinking back on that year, is how isolated I was. This was (I think) before you could “search for related music” on Amazon, and you basically still had to listen to the radio, or your friends, or read magazine reviews, to figure out what music to like. In lieu of friends, I had only the radio, and I only had two or three rock stations I listened to.

So I arrived at college pretty much only having heard whatever they played during “two-fer Tuesday” on Rock 105.9 or whatever. For a brief while there in college, I was physically around people who were actually playing and discussing music, which was new to me, and my tastes changed immensely based solely on what I heard on my dorm floor, the concerts I tagged along to, and so on.

That didn’t last and now, I’m physically and socially more or less just as isolated as I was back in high school, but here’s the thing: I don’t feel that way, because of the Web. I feel as if I’m almost as connected to new and exciting music, if not more connected, than I was in college, but it’s all happening online. Interesting. This is why record companies shouldn’t fear online piracy – nobody buys varied albums as foolishly and frequently as college students, and online we’re all basically living together in one big virtual dorm. If they’d lowered the price of albums to $1-$5 each, they’d probably have made way more money from CDs over the last few years than ever because everyone is all hopped up on recommendations from the web. Oh well.


Anonymous said...

albtraum said...

This may be my first Turkish Formula One Spam. A celebration is in order! Tonight, let the Raki flow like the blood of our enemies! Huzzah!

Intrepidflame said...

Please tell me that picture of the "stocky" kid smoking a cigarette is you!

Janet Jackson If, come on man. That is a great album!

Fiwibabe said...

Cool post. I will fulfill my obligations since Intrepid Flame included me in the festivities (oh joy).

However, I making a meme (what ever that means) stand and will not pass it on to people I want to remain friends with me.

Congrats on the spam too - you know you've made it weh the Turkish Formula One hit one out to you.