Hi Friends, Jen here. I’m in the midst of a busy week, with my brother graduating from college and a full week at work. A friend of mine, John Doukas, has graciously accepted the task of writing a guest post for today. Besides being an avid music lover, John has faithfully walked with those who surround him whether at church, work, or Old Towne Orange, and is a spectacular photographer. I’m so grateful to have him posting today. Thanks again John!
Recently while on a break at Starbucks, I saw the new Vampire Weekend album at the register. Picking it up and glancing at the album artwork showing a vintage New York City skyline, I thought I would chance buying it. I hadn’t heard it yet, but from liking some of their previous songs I like, I considered myself a fan. Well, before popping it in my car stereo, I had to make mp3’s so it could go on my iPhone, so it could be streamed in my car via bluetooth (hey, it’s cooler that way!). Finally, after work, did I get to listen to it. A lot was on my mind at the moment and so their music became background music to my thoughts. In the traffic home, from what I could hear of it, a thought crept to mind, “did I just waste $13 on this album? It doesn’t sound like the songs of theirs I like.” After a short while, I switched it to some Nirvana and found some familiarity to where I could sing along and unwind from the day.
So, when I Jen asked for a blog, I got to thinking about that day. I’m 35 and I consider myself still to be fairly young. Back in the late 80’s to early 90’s, I was just beginning to discover my personal tastes. CD’s were new to me and I had received my own cd player for Christmas. Starting with just what was on the radio, I bought what I liked, ranging from Michael Jackson, Boyz 2 Men, En Vogue, Guns n Roses, Weird Al, and others I don’t know if I can also admit to. My taste was fairly broad there, but I wasn’t exactly aware that I had taste, I just liked it. Admittedly though, I would get disappointed at the songs I didn’t know, thinking of how foreign they felt. I liked the singles from the radio airplay, and that was about it. Some friends would try to turn me onto stuff like Def Leppard or Motley Crue, but to me it just sounded junky. Singing about girls and sex seemed a bit boring to me. The music videos were cheesy too. Occasionally I’d find a GNR song I liked, only because it had cuss words. Songs like that became instant favorites as they had a feeling of being tough, even at my age of 13. But, I would see an occasional Metallica album and think that seemed a lot cooler. Their videos seemed to tap into something I was yet unaware of. Less and less did I listen to Michael Jackson or En Vogue, but I would have a stronger leaning toward rock music.
Before and during my high school years, I grew even more into having music as my identity. I would see kids dressed up as punk rockers (real ones with Mohawks, boots, wife beaters, chains, smelling of B-O) and think they looked a little too serious to be taken seriously. As a gift, I received a Led Zeppelin box set, and I slow to getting into it. There were songs though that just seemed awesome. Then my older brother got a Nirvana album (Nevermind) for Christmas, and I would sneak into his room to listen to it. They looked like normal guys, their album was blue (my favorite color) water. It felt fun, fresh, and just flat out cool. I didn’t know it was a popular album or anything like that. It was often just me alone, enjoying the music I liked.
In my junior year of high school, I got to sit next to this kid who always had a walkman and a bunch of tapes (remember those?). After a short period, I would look through his tapes and recognized none of the bands. We got to talking about music and he would tell me about these bands, as most of them were underground so n so’s, who were way cooler than what was on the radio. He let me listen to them, and I had to admit, I just liked them. Bands like Farside, Drive Like Jehu, Sensefield, Dead Kennedys, Fugazi (ok, I’m probably losing you by now), none of which I had heard before and or since. There were songs I liked. I asked where he finds this stuff, as Sam Goody or Blockbuster Music seemed to only have what was poopular (a typo at first, but I thought it sounded funny). He pointed me to a store called Bionic Records, in Fullerton. It became a quest to find this place. A friend and I went and we found it to be full of bands we never heard of. Instantly I felt a bit too uncool to be there with the employees. So I went for the bands my friend had suggested in class. After a few months, I had a bunch of underground albums/bands in my backpack at school, and I felt cool finally. Also, I was reading a Nirvana biography at the same time, and discovered bands such as the Melvins and Mudhoney. Cool thing was, I genuinely liked them. Also during high school, I discovered live concerts. I became initiated in mosh pits (the kinds with flying elbows and harsh pushing). I loved it. Then something else new happened…
When other friends and I would talk about music, it became sort of a pissing match of who’s tastes were better. I sort of automatically dismissed radio/popular stuff as being bland and sucky. The real gems were in the underground. Music had become so much of my identity that I would take it as a personal insult if you didn’t like what I like. I would size people up in their musical tastes. Then, the bands I liked, I idolized them. Anything they said was gospel and standard of cool. They don’t like something, I don’t like something. They respect something, I respect something. As the 90’s passed, I grew further into this. Then my life was interrupted.
In the year of 2000, after a long but seemingly fast process, I became a believer in Jesus. That is a story for another time, but music followed in that. One day while browsing Napster, I wondered if there was such a thing as Christian music. So I found some stuff by Hank Williams, whoever he was. I didn’t notice at first that it sounded like country (country was a dirty word to me), but he sang about Jesus. It was just cool to me that someone would sing about Him. A friend, while driving with me, heard one of the songs (I Saw the Light) and thought I was coo-koo. Normally you would find me listening to stuff like Misfits or Slayer, aside from my main favorites, but to hear twangy country in my car, about Jesus no less…what?! But, I didn’t care, I liked it.
As the 2000’s progressed, I became more absorbed with Christian music. After a while though, I started to realize I didn’t like some of it. It again had a sort of fake feeling, hearkening to just trying to sound popular or good enough for radio. But I would discover bands who were Christians, such as POD, and just enjoyed them. They sounded real, in my tastes. Plus, I started to discover, it’s ok to like what I like, AND, it’s ok for others to like what they like. From letting my opinions take a backseat, I’ve gotten to discover great music from other friends. Music ranging from Adele, Mumford and Sons, Nirvana, Delirious?, the Melvins, Elvis, Beethoven, Vampire Weekend…to name some…I heard from other people. But, they’re me. Over the years I learned the value of just being honest with myself, and just enjoying others being themselves.
Thanks for your time!
P.S. I finally listened to the new Vampire Weekend and it’s growing on me.