Musical Montage

When I was little, mom sang me to sleep.

I love my Kelly, oh this is true... I love my Kelly, oh yes I do...

I was raised on a mix of Elvis and The Eagles, with a little Joan Jett and Journey sprinkled in for good measure. These songs were the soundtrack of my life from birth to about eight. I remember singing along in the car as we listened to songs like Hound Dog or Don't Stop Believin'.

I can attach a song to nearly all my childhood memories -- music was always in the background. My dad often hummed along to many favorites, and my mom was a trained quasi-opera star in her own right, so music just didn't know how NOT to follow her around. She's sort of like Snow White, that way.

In fourth grade I remember starting to buy my own music: Michael Jackson, to be exact. And when I couldn't buy the newest tape for my boombox (oh yes, I went there!), I would simply record it off the radio. This was especially helpful when I wanted to learn the lyrics to a new song. Record, play back, stop, play, stop, play, stop, play -- until all the words were safely written in my notebook. And when I wasn't writing down lyrics from the radio, I was writing my own.

By middle school my friends and I listened to Madonna, The Beastie Boys, Tiffany, and Guns N' Roses. Music was my bipolar best friend. Where else could you find these tunes hanging out side by side? Only middle school, my friends.

I distinctly remember crying to Cruel Summer and Groovy Kind of Love when my first boyfriend moved away. No, seriously. I probably even ran into my room, flung myself onto my bed, threw one hand over my forehead, and wept bitterly. I bet Whitney Houston was singing in the background.

Soon after that deluxe moment of sitcom love gone wrong, I was banging my head to the likes of Alice Cooper, Poison, and Def Leppard (why didn't it bother me that their band name was so hideously spelled??) with one group of friends, while also kickin' back with a different group listening to LL Cool Jay, Whitney Houston, and George Michael.

No wonder I was confused.

When I was alone, I had a third set of music that begged for my attention. At night, after my friends cleared my parent-free house, my radio dial always tuned to the same thing.

Classical music.

It started innocently enough. One night, deep into a bout of insomnia, I was storming the radio stations in search for something new. Somehow I landed on one of the only classical music stations in Vegas -- nestled between dozens of rock, hip-hop, and pop stations.

And I was hooked.

What began as random background music to my insomnia became a love of Chopin, Bach, Mozart, and  Mendelssohn.

It became my must-have lullaby, the perfect serenade for late night homework sessions, and quite often -- the soundtrack to my long drives to class for the years I was determined to finish my degree, no matter what.

Even through the years in high school, bebopping around to The Cure, Johnny Gill, Billy Idol, and Sinead O'Conner -- classical was still my closeted musical BFF.

Don't you just want to slap teenage me upside the head and yell, "Yo! Find your own taste! WHO ARE YOU???"

I still rock out to live music whenever I get the chance, beam like a little kid on Christmas morning when I hear Elvis, and pull out some serious white-girl dance moves when any of those classy songs from the 80's and 90's are on.

But in a moment of high stress, when my heart is pounding and I want to just run away and pretend nothing exists? There is nothing like being surrounded by the pulse and energy of swirling emotions that speak to me through classical music.

Oh, and teenage me would be proud -- I've actually found the music that speaks to me (beyond my classical bestie), even though no one I know really cares for it. So when I'm not seeking a Zen moment in the land of harps and violins, I'm happily crooning along with singer/songwriters Joshua Radin, Ingrid Michaelson, The Weepies, Imogen Heap, Schuyler Fisk, and more.

And P!nk. Because let's face it, she's pretty badass.


  1. I'm a sucker for musical journeys, so your post today hit the spot (and the shift from Elvis to Journey to Tiffany ... my mind was jumping)

    1. Thanks! I was scrambling for something to write today. Glad you enjoyed it! :)

  2. My brother, an intellectual, recently wrote a piece called (something like) My Journey to Feminism As Evidence By My Music Collection. I read it (at least the parts I could understand) and thought it an interesting way to document your belief system. Now you've shared your life story through music's eyes. I guess I have to give this a try.

    1. It's a fun look through your own history! I'd love to read yours. :)

  3. I enjoyed reading your post. I think we all flung ourselves on our beds listening to some weepy music when our first loves failed. It was just different music! :) Thanks for sharing this journey. It made me smile!

  4. This was a really fun trip down memory lane. I found myself singing right beside you throughout most of your post. Isn't it funny the way we remember certain parts of our lives through music? Oh, the bands....and the ways we were listening. Yes, the boom box with the cassette to tape the songs on the radio. It was the worst when you were trying to get a song and the DJ talked right on the track. The evolution of the record, the 8 track, the cassette, the CD. Who would've guessed we'd be able to carry our entire music collections in our hands.

    OK, I now have Asia singing the "Heat of the Moment" on YouTube. Hilarious! One memory is leading to another. Thanks for making me want to sing along.

  5. You crack me up! You have to laugh at yourself as a teenager because some of the things we did and thought were just so ridiculous. I love how you showed how your musical self found her identity! Good for you!

  6. Wow. We share a musical lifeline! So many of those songs hit me as the same times as they did you. I remember taping songs, and I also had an extremely eclectic musical taste. I love all of those things, and then discovered Celtic folk in college. Yeah, Celtic folk. *chuckles*