My Soundtrack

March 6th, 2016
fingers on piano keys

Music has always been an important part of my life.

I started taking piano lessons when I was six, and I continued taking them until I was eighteen. Now, when I first asked my parents for piano lessons, they were not inclined to let me have them. Mainly because I had an older brother and sister who had taken them for a few years and then stopped. (To be fair, from what they have told me about their strict piano teacher, I can’t promise I would have continued on, either. Scissors held under my wrists to keep my hands up sounds awful). But I pestered and pestered them and banged on the keys enough that apparently it was easier at that point to go ahead and let me have them rather than listen to the “music” that I insisted on playing.

And so I embarked on a musical journey that lasted even beyond the twelve years I spent in music lessons. During that time, I also sang in my school choir (to be fair, sometimes I sang even when I’m pretty sure I didn’t sound that great), and I learned to play the handbells at church – which I occasionally still play today. And all along, I listened to almost anything I could get my hands on.

I have to thank my older brother and sister for much of my early musical taste. It was my sister who introduced me to Rocky Horror Picture Show early on, and therefore instilled a love of musicals in me. And my brother was constantly exposing me to the blues or original recordings – I can’t even begin to recall the number of times he’d point out that whatever I was listening to was a cover. To this day, I tend to have a healthy disdain for covers – unless they’re by Johnny Cash. I don’t care what you say, there’s no way the Nine Inch Nails version of Hurt is better than Johnny’s.

While I went through a bit of a music crisis in middle school – apparently Billy Joel was not cool then, and I had my first exposure to U2 and Guns n’ Roses, so at least some of it was for the better – I’ve mostly created my own music style. I like a little classical, a little classic rock, a lot of alternative, definitely throw in some blues, avoid country as much as possible (except Patsy Cline), and even a few specks of pop, hip hop and rap somewhere in there. Many of the people in my life have their own soundtracks. My friend Valdez is almost entirely Whitney Houston with a little Josh Groban thrown in for good measure. Kassie and Joe are pretty much all alternative – although Joe is also Nina Simone from college, and Kassie also has some pop music thrown in from time to time. My student affairs friends from ACPA 2014 are all 80s music, and Ed has his own band in Boyz to Men. Tara will always be “Lovefool” by the Cardigans, but also Madeleine Peyroux. And Sean will probably always be Marky Mark. Okay, and also Israel Kamakawiwoʻole – who sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” or at least the version we had at our wedding, and Louis Armstrong singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me” and the song “Hallelujah.” 

Tonight, Aedan and I played our usual game of music exchange – I play a song and then he gets to play a song. While most of his are remakes of popular songs with Minecraft lyrics and videos that help me to learn so much about where he’s at currently, I try to share anything and everything I can to instill a good background in music. Whether it’s showing him that the song “Immortals” from Big Hero Six includes samples from “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega or making him listen to the entire long version of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman,” or even making sure that the first time he hears “Walk on the Wild Side” it’s by Lou Reed and not “Wildside” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. My goal is to give him a chance to hear all sorts of music and figure out his own music style.

Because sometimes it’s music that tells the story, not just words or pictures. And I’m going to do my best to make sure he can tell his story any way he can.