"What music did you listen to in your teens" Part 1
At the launch concert for our new single, Stream, we passed HMS August and After (an apology for an origami boat, thanks Ned) round the audience to be filled with suggestions for the blog. Thanks to whoever asked this question! I love talking about my favourite bands. I also feel I have an educational role to play: I have amazing music taste and have a duty to impart that on others less blessed. This includes my bandmates…
By way of answer, here is an album for each year of my early adolescence, and next time I’ll add an album for my later teenage years:
13: Eminem - Marshall Mathers LP
When I was 10, I slipped this CD into my unsuspecting mum’s shopping trolley and distracted her while the shop assistant swiped it through the scanner. Grinning at myself like a cunning fox, on our return home I snuck into my sister’s room and slammed the disc into her HiFi player. Baseball cap turned sideways, puffer jacket on, I cranked up the volume and got ready to ‘bounce’ like a ‘real G’. This was my undoing. My sister heard the noise, walked in and said the offensive lyrics “weren’t suitable for a little kid”. After about only 10 seconds and twenty swear words, the CD was confiscated (though apparently 2Pac was ok…!)
But as I entered adolescence I got it back and started listening to it. And I couldn’t stop. The ingenious rhymes. The dark, dark humour. The emotion, the aggression, the anger. As a teenager wanting to vent my frustration at the fact I had little to be frustrated about, Eminem provided a perfect outlet. I’d say my love of lyrics stemmed from this album.
14: Brand New - Deja Entendu
I remember getting in trouble one evening because I refused to come downstairs - my family was late for some social engagement. They shouted my name, but I sat still. In my ears, and screamed with passion, were the words “keep the blood in your head, keep your feet in the ground, today’s the day it gets tired, today’s the day we drop down”. And when the song finished I played it again. And again. I got into a lot of trouble. “The Quiet Things”, this single from the album, hit me like a jackhammer. So did the rest of the album. The drums in “Guernica” set me into trance. The guitar in “Jaws Theme Swimming” was on another level of cool. But most of all what struck me were the harmonies - this album was my first introduction to the raw power of simple vocal harmonies.
15: Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
Her eponymous album was the first I ever remember listening to. I was 3. Even at an age where Thomas the Tank Engine and Teletubbies are perceived as deep and meaningful, I realised that what I was listening to was genuinely beautiful. This speaks volumes about how universal this album really is. When I later reconnected with the album, I listened to it endlessly. The lyrical aspect to the music hit me in a way that it clearly couldn’t when I was three. Important themes such as racism, poverty, struggle and hope, are dealt with through an incredible degree of empathy and compassion. It made me want to act, to do my bit to make the world a better place. And her voice and guitar playing are sublime.
16: Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
The eponymous album by Third Eye Blind had been released in the 90s. But around the time of my sweet/bitter/bittersweet sixteen, my sister had been playing the hit single - ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ - on her HiFi player. As with all music she liked, I said I hated it to her face, and then, when she was out, I crept into her room, took it, and uploaded it to my computer. There was a month where the only song I listened to was ‘The Background’. When revising for my first important exams I’d listen to ‘Graduate’, perhaps a bit presumptuously. Every song felt like a release, and upon listening to it any angst i had was immediately channeled into jumping up and down like a muppet in my bedroom, playing air guitar...This alt-rock band have a knack for constructing seemingly simple songs that, like an onion, you can peel away bit by bit and always discover another layer.