(THIS POST IS LINK HEAVY)
Gloomy days like today often turn me into a philosophical, introspective kind of guy (which is why you should be glad I don’t live in Seattle..it’d be like this ALL of the time..except for the 45 minutes of sunshine they get every day). I find myself looking back at where I’ve been and wondering where I’ll be in the years to follow.
One thing that I cannot help but to notice is that in the 90’s, music moved me much more than it does today. Maybe it was the fact that I was a horny, angsty teen with raging hormones and social anxiety. I was painfully shy, a little too intelligent to be one off the “cool kids” and my parents were too conservative to let me wear the popular hairstyles or clothes, so I sat right in the middle of the pack.
MTV ruled my world. It wasn’t stupid shows about teen moms, or east coast guidos, it was relevant shows (even Real World was more socially responsible than it is today) and it was music….and I LOVED music. I would write, draw, and even play driveway basketball to music.
While my early music stages were rock based (Mister Mister, Van Halen), I turned to grunge in my early teen years, and to rap/R&B in my middle teens, then back to alternative and grunge at the end of the 90’s. I had a treasure trove of music that I used to link to experiences in my teenage years.
I’d play driveway basketball while listening to Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” or “Evenflow“. If I was lucky, I’d hear Social Distortion or Dinosaur Jr. Smashing Pumpkins “Siamese Dream” hit stores one year around State Fair time. I remember driving to a store in Huron with my brother (in our 1981 Reliant..which my brother popped the tire on later that weekend) to find Siamese Dream and Janet Jackson’s “Janet” album. We rocked out to both on the way home.
After high school, my friend Kris revealed to me that he hated REM who’d just released Monster two years prior. “What’s the Frequency Kenneth” and Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees“, combined with Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” were my three favorite songs to draw to and I couldn’t believe he didn’t see the awesomeness that was REM. He was somewhat right though, REM really began to suck after that. Maybe it was because Michael Stipe copied Moby’s bald look. Def Leppard got big again (and again), AC/DC ruled our school dances alongside Snap and Salt N’ Pepa and Snow, who was a CANADIAN reggae rapper..yeah, it was pretty hardcore..or not. Peppered in those years were Cypress Hill, Sir Mix A Lot, and Ice Cube.
College (yes youngins, college for me started in the late 90’s). Was a bit more of a darker period for me. I was hiding depression from my family and was drinking way more than I should have as a way to escape what I was going through. I had a tendency to gravitate toward the more somber, emotional songs like Savage Garden’s “Santa Monica”, Verve Pipe’s “Freshman”, Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” (which the younger generation knows as the theme to “House”), and I even expanded into world music from Peter Gabriel and Deep Forest when I was needing a more meditative escape.
We’d drink to Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week”, Notorious B.I.G’s “Mo Money Mo Problems”, Korn’s “Got the Life”, and Daft Punk and later than year, I lived alone for the first time in Minneapolis and listened to Marylin Manson, Madonna, and Sneaker Pimps. Bush, Filter, Blink 182, and Live were also mixed in there.
As the 90’s drew to a close, the rock industry grew and the alternative and pop/r&B industry threw their hands up in frustration. Rock grew steadily for three to four years and then collapsed in a pile of crap, while R&B grew along with the lifestyle of unlimited debt and materialism. R&B took over a decade to collapse, and now we’re in a new era of music. The world we are in is more unsure of permanency in life than we ever have been. As we’ve witness our life savings (and our parents’ life savings) sink away, our homes be taken from us, and our safety and way of life get compromised, we’ve adapted to a faster paced and ever-changing environment and our music has done the same. MTV no longer plays music (presumably because bands aren’t big enough for long enough to warrant making videos), and our radio stations play the same 30 songs over and over again and simply pluck out unpopular songs and fill them in with bands “deemed popular” by companies.
I miss the 90’s music because it seemed SO relevant to the world that was changing around us. It wasn’t full of sugar coated pop and meaningless hip-hop materialism (it existed, but wasn’t as popular), and it had emotion. I know I sound like that old guy lecturing his grandkids about how their music has no “moxy”, but it’s true. We have our musical exceptions from time to time, and we have our comebacks, but the NEW talent has been mainly forgettable.
I linked a ton of old stuff in this post to cause the people my age to reminisce a bit and to make the younger generation think about what we had versus what they’re having to deal with. Music moves..make sure it moves you as well.