May 3, 2010

I Dig Music …

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In the fourth grade I went on a family vacation to Disney World. Between the Magic Kingdom, MGM and Epcot (Animal Kingdom wasn’t around in those days) my mom surprised my sister and I with tickets to see the Backstreet Boys in concert at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. Needless to say this was the highlight of my vacation (sorry, Caitie Clark ’10!). When I returned from the happiest place on earth, I was elated about having seen the Backstreet Boys and I had much less to say about my photo-op with Eeyore or my dinner with Cinderella. My parents probably should have realized then what they would have on their plates for the next eight years I’d spend living under their roof.

For my mom it meant endless miles of driving to every venue within a reasonable distance from our home, then spending the next two hours waiting, worrying that some music nerd would harm her daughter. For my dad it meant becoming Ticketmaster’s number one hater for surcharges on his credit card bill. Despite the frustrations my concert schedule caused my parents, I’m ever so grateful they allowed it to go on. At the same time, I’m also fully aware that my shenanigans were permitted because four years earlier my older sister had broken down the barriers that would have prevented her from staying out late in shady areas of New York City. So when it was my turn to take on those battles, my parents were much more susceptible to the “But Rachel got to do it!” argument. So Rachel ’06, THANK YOU! Also Rachel, thank you for simply doing everything first. As you’ve said before and I’m admitting now, all of your hard work made my life an easy breeze of following in your footsteps. Thankfully, those footsteps led me to Cornell.

But I digress. Before I made it to Cornell, there was short period of time in middle school during which: 1) I saw the movie Almost Famous; 2) I read a Rolling Stone cover story on Rivers Cuomo which caused me to fall madly in love with Weezer, which in turn caused me to subscribe to Rolling Stone and Spin to read anything I could about Weezer; 3) I had a hot eighth grade English teacher who often complemented my writing. All of this, mixed with the fact that I was already an avid music listener and concertgoer essentially planted the seeds for my future in music journalism.

It was also around this time that I began taking guitar lessons. Aside from the fact that I absolutely sucked, it turned out that I was more interested in obsessing over rock stars than actually being one myself. So by the time I hit high school, I had an affinity for music journalism. I never really thought this to be a strange thing until another, albeit less gorgeous, English teacher pointed it out. Hearing that my desire to write about music was an oddity made me want to do it even more.

So Strawberry Fields was born in my high school paper, the Roslyn Hilltop Beacon, and for three years was a monthly staple. When it came time to apply to college, as part of my application the admissions officers up on north campus received a copy of one installment of Strawberry Fields. Clearly, they must not have hated it, because I got accepted and I could not be more grateful for that fact.

The four years I have spent on this hill have been everything a college student could dream of and more. In addition, ranking very high on my list of college dreams has been getting to carry on Strawberry Fields in The Daily Sun. So this column has been a writers dream come true and I’m delighted to have shared my musical musings with the Cornell community for the last three semesters.

So now is the part where I undertake the privilege afforded to every graduating columnist and bore my readers with a list of thank yous.

Rebecca Weiss ’09, you made it possible for me to get my byline in this paper after I struggled to even snatch a 150-word album review my first semester on campus.

Sammy, Peter F., Julie, Ann, Ted, Peter J. and Ruby, it was a pleasure to work under ya’ll and an even greater honor to enjoy the wonderful arts pages you created everyday for the last four years.

Professor Linda Van Buskirk, you were a tough cookie on my writing and you crossed out entire pages of my essays. Initially you were my biggest nightmare, but in retrospect you were the best editor I’ve ever had.

Any roommate I’ve ever lived with, thanks for putting up with my loud music.

My KD sisters, partying with you always kept my pop music knowledge in check.

The CCC crew, you’ve showed me that there is a whole world of people who truly love live music and it just so happens that you’re also the coolest people I’ll ever meet.

Joe Scaffido, you are my hero. I am so fortunate to have been able to learn from you about every intricacy required to make a concert exceptionally perfect. Plus, you literally know the answer to EVERYTHING. I swear you know the meaning of life and you’re just withholding it from the rest of us. But seriously, the words “thank you” do not even do justice to how appreciative I am for the last three years I’ve spent taking up residence in your office.

And again, Mom and Dad, my first editors and the best parents on the planet — thanks for always supporting my obsession with music. I know it pains you that I’ll be moving across the country in two months, but I promise I’ll come back! Even William in Almost Famous comes back home (and he was touring the country with rock stars … I’m only teaching Kindergarten!)

Now with the thank yous all said and done, it saddens me that Strawberry Fields is going to fall out of physical print. So if anyone reading this is publisher in the Bay Area (or really just about anywhere) and would like the services of a music journalist, follow the italics below to contact me and I’d be ecstatic to fill your pages with meaningful music reflections — because lets be honest, Strawberry Fields should be forever.

Original Author: Justine Fields