Awkward middle schooler that I was in the mid-90s, I thought having a boom box made me marginally cool — at least, cool enough to pass as normal around my peers — and that listening to the alternative radio station made me even cooler. In the days of The Radio, you couldn’t just pick up your phone and check which artist was playing — you had to listen for it. And if the radio DJ didn’t announce the artist, or had announced it before the whole set of songs, well, woe is you. At the time, I had a favorite song and had no idea who sang it, but I did know that its chorus contained a melody that made my soul shift forward each time it passed through my ears. It also had one bleeped f-word in it, which made the listener an instant badass.
Life is complicated when you’re 16, awkward, and, for all you know, in love with the boy from your fifth period.
I’ve always had a true love for music; my dad raised my sister and I on the best, but anyone that knows me knows that film is my first love. It’s not a coincidence, then, that many of my musical obsessions stem from film-nostalgia.
The Two-Lane Highway of “Try a Little Tenderness”
by Ryane Nicole Granados
I was 10 years old when I first heard Otis Redding’s rendition of “Try a Little Tenderness.” I actually heard his voice, drenched in emotion, piping through the recorded sounds of my family’s brand new VHS player. It was out with the Betamax and in with every 80s movie a 6th grader needed to understand the animal kingdom of adolescence. A Friday night viewing left me enthralled by a scene from Pretty in Pink. The iconic character Duckie was serenading his best friend and unrequited love, Andie. In a choreographed lip sync, Duckie, via the writing of John Hughes, introduced a song I became vehemently convinced was written just for me. While acknowledging the heteronormative nature of traditional gender roles featured in a song that provides advice on how to woo a woman, I would argue that it could also be a song reminding a woman how to love herself.
a girl clicks new buttons into place in the discman, taps it a couple of times. makes sure they’re in properly and finds a CD. she handles it carefully, as though frail: picks it up at the edges and slides it down her pinky finger. flips it over, clicks it onto the mechanism.
I’m a sad person. Like…really sad. Like, to this day, I sometimes lock myself in my bedroom and watch YouTube videos of soldiers returning home from war, just to give myself a cathartic cry. I am the definition of existential woe and malaise.
My family wasn’t big on music.Though my father was a DJ at the local radio station, he had very little love for music that had been produced in the twenty or so years up to that point.I don’t remember ever hearing a song played on the record player that gathered dust in our basement.My soundtrack was always either the television or my parents screaming at each other.
I was 13 years old and a seventh-grader at Shumway Junior High School, a cesspool of pubescent hormones and knockoff Polo cologne. Julie Hood was also in my grade and she was a goddess. She had red hair that was feathered perfectly, wore gorgeous light blue James Jeans with matching eye shadow, and always had on sexy, auburn colored feather earrings. I was just a dorky kid who happened to catch her eye and she was my girlfriend even though I didn’t know what that entailed. We held hands sometimes and that was good with me.
Jim Croce is an incredible singer/songwriter who was taken from us much too early. Believe it or not, the man died at 30, even though he looked/sounded and had the wisdom of someone in his fifties.
One of my favorite Croce songs is “Which Way Are You Goin’.” At first listen, it sounds like a catchy, tap-your-foot-to-the-velvety-sound-of-Croce’s-voice-and-guitar kinda song. It’s only after a close listen to the lyrics that you start to get the message he’s sending. The first time you hear it, you’ll find yourself nodding your head along with the beat. The second time you hear it, you’re nodding your head in agreement with Croce’s words. You know — that kind of “Hallelujah!” kind of head nod.
This song evaluates old and new America (which, today, is closely resembling old America) and the decisions of man along with the hypocrisy of man’s choices, all the while disguising itself as a folk song. It is just as important today is at was when he wrote it.
However, even if you’re not into all that “preachy, political bullshit”… it’s just a damn good song.
Growing up, there’s this dumpy room in my parents’ basement with a ripped up couch and a T.V. that I watch too much of. Mostly I watch Nickelodeon, but one day I go down there and I see something else that blows my mind. There’s this woman in a car with three of her identical friends. Four of her. Why is there four of her? The one in the back draws with her fingertips. The one riding shotgun hangs out the car window—fucking crazy—and the one driving, she sings. The song is “Ironic.” And the duplicated woman is Alanis Morissette. I’m six years old and I’ve just come across my new obsession.