March 9, 2006

The Music of Nostalgia

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I was looking through music websites the other day when I spotted a track listing entitled, “When We Were Young,” containing all the songs that the compilation’s author loved as a teenager growing up in the 90’s. Oh, how the nostalgia quickly set in. Music was as much a part of me then as it is now, and it’s a wonder how some of those songs that defined my world at that moment have stayed with me.

Some people say that the 90’s didn’t offer much in terms of forward movement and that the period served more as an homage to other glorious eras before it. While at times it may seem like the decade failed to make a lasting impression on current pop culture, it couldn’t possibly be summed up in a mere liner note if part of a century retrospective. The 90’s were our time, the time that we came into our own. You probably couldn’t argue the social importance of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” uniform boy bands, or the Spice Girls, but I’d like to think that the decade we all grew up in counted for something.

I’ll admit that my musical tastes in the 10th grade were much along the lines of a “Dawson’s Creek” or “Felicity” soundtrack, rife with novelty rock bubble gum and top-40 rotation material. But you couldn’t tell me that. No, I would have told you it all was the real deal, like Jewel being a “real” poet, or Friends being an accurate portrayal of “real” 20-somethings life.

I couldn’t conceivably list all of the songs I enjoyed during high school in the space allotted. That would just be crazy talk. So, I present to you a probable play list from a day in my life circa 1999.

Foo Fighters – “Everlong”

I loved Dave Grohl and company’s ridiculous music videos, but not as much as I love this song. Hearing it now always reminds me of Monica and Chandler’s wedding on Friends. It was played during the walk down the aisle.

Smashing Pumpkins – “Today”

It’s funny how kids listened to the Pumpkins to be “different” and non-mainstream, not realizing that everyone and their mom bought a copy of Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness; the record went platinum eight times. We were drones to the machine without ever knowing it.

Groove Theory – “Tell Me”

I have to include this song, even though it came out as early as middle school. It’s Amel Larrieux, and I absolutely adore her.

Radiohead – “Karma Police”

It’s so hard to pick just one Radiohead song, but when forced to choose a tune that sums up my 90’s experience, “Karma” wins (Although “High and Dry” and Airbag are also early favorites.) It’s strangely pleasant with its eerie sinister tone that culminates into a climactic frenzy.

Alanis Morissette- “Ironic”

After all these years, Jagged Little Pill is still the consummate teenage angst-ridden album of the 90’s. Alanis was the real deal when others weren’t, and is when others still aren’t (No Avril, Ashlee, or Hilary please.)

Gin Blossoms – “Hey Jealousy”

This is on the Empire Records Soundtrack which is full of great stuff from Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Martinis, and these guys. “If you don’t expect too much from me / you might not be let down.” At least he’s honest.

K’s Choice – “I Believe”

I think I liked K’s Choice so much because of Sarah Bettens’ sultry voice, and this song is simply beautiful.

Tracy Bonham – “Mother Mother”

I love Tracy Bonham’s musical note to her mother for daring to say the things I didn’t have the guts to say myself as a teen.

Oleander – “I Walk Alone”

This band has also done a sweet cover of the Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry” that I’m equally fond of.

No Doubt – “Spider Webs”

All the songs on Tragic Kingdom are grand, but this one just gets me hyped in a way that the others can’t. This is No Doubt in pure form.

Lemonheads – “Mrs. Robinson”

In 10th grade I was a fairy in a 70’s themed school production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” This Simon and Garfunkel cover reminds me of that.

“Garbage – Stupid Girl”

“Don’t believe in anything / that you can’t break.” I thought Shirley Manson was the coolest.

Sarah McLachlan – “Ice Cream”

I think this was on the “Bed of Roses” soundtrack, an obscure Christian Slater movie, but it’s such a sweet little love song.

What were you listening to in high school?

Archived article by Sophia Asare
Sun Staff Writer