I’ve gone through many phases of musical taste in my life. I’ve enjoyed hair metal. I’ve danced to bubblegum pop. I’ve laid in the dark and moped to obscure blues albums from fifty years before I was born. My tastes range far and wide. But, there is one broad genre that always seems to pull me back. I’m talking about the music of my adolescence. The music of my formative high school years:
90s alternative. 90s rap. 90s metal. Hell, even 90s pop country.
I keep them all on hand and ready to fill whatever silence needs filling in my life. When I need a song to fit a mood, I know exactly which song to turn on.
Of course, it is. It’s always easiest to go to what you know. To pop in a song and relive the anxiety of your first kiss or the time you let down your ego-wall and bounced around at Prom with friends you honestly didn’t think you would ever see again because Facebook wasn’t a thing yet.
For me, music has always been a vocalization of emotion. I don’t think there is a time in your life with more powerful emotions than your teens. It’s just brain chemistry.
And that’s why the music of the 90s, especially the late 90s, will always hold sway over my heart.
You would think being a white, middle-class nerd from the midwest would pretty much leave me listening to nothing but SKA and Nu Metal–and I did own albums from both the Mighty, Mighty Bosstones and Limp Bizkit–but, I like to think my musical tastes are more diverse. I also liked Barenaked Ladies and Godsmack.
These days, I think I’m a bit more reflective about the decade’s music as a whole. I am constantly reminded of how good the R&B scene was in the 90s. The 90s was also pretty much the last time I listened to country music and disagreed with Bo Burnham.
I do worry that I’m starting to get into a musical rut. I’m not old enough to be stuck in my past.
But, hey! I know what I like. And that’s something.