Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Soundtrack of my Early Teens

Let’s go back 20 years to 1996-97. When you’re just starting high school, in small town Canada, pre-internet, your musical selections will be limited to the narrow scope of what overpriced CDs were up on the top 20 wall of the Lansdowne Place Mall Music World (if you can get a ride of course), what songs American Top 40 host Casey Kasem spouted on the radio or what Columbia House stamps you can find in flyers, 17 and YM magazines. Those of you born after 1990 probably won’t remember the mail order service that had subscribers select stamps of album covers from sheets of dozens of titles, rip ‘em, lick ‘em and send ‘em in with 1 cent, along with a ridiculous pending financial commitment no teenybopper could follow through on for too long. So, of course we tried that, sneakily splitting an order and not telling our parents what we were up to. Some of my selections, I’m not particularly proud of, few (if any) do I still listen to today, but they are all classics in their own right.

You don’t like it?…Talk to the Hand!

In no particular order:

1. Usher - My Way (One of my picks I remember from Columbia House. So smooth, you make me wanna…)

2. Robyn - Robyn Is Here (Another I ordered from C.H. if I remember correctly, this was 20 years ago after all! Show Me Love was prime 90’s pop that made it on the charts of the US R&B billboard for 44

3. Puff Daddy - No Way Out (Released 4 months after the shooting death of Biggie Smalls, Puff Daddy’s debut release was wrought with emotion and grief. I had been listening to hip hop for a few years, but this album was my first introduction to the concepts/realities of gang violence.)

4. Bush X - Razorblade Suitcase (Bush was called Bush X in Canada due to a copyright issue. While I was a fan of their debut Sixteen Stone, it wasn’t until their 2nd release that I bought a Bush X CD. I even had a poster on my bedroom wall of Gavin Rosedale and band in sepia tone, with a mop dog like the one on Odelay. It’s now considered rare and vintage, <eyeroll>)

5. No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom (OK, so I wasn’t as addicted to this band as a particular friend who will remain nameless [you know who you are], I did listen to this CD on repeat for a good portion of Grade 8 and it represents the sporty/punk/colourful styles of the times.)

6. Matchbox 20 - Yourself or Someone Like You (I wasn’t the most athletic person in my gym class [surprised?], but one of the highlights for me was that during certain activities [badminton, for example] I was allowed to pick the music to blare on the boombox in the gymnasium. I recall playing a lot of different things, but for some reason I remember this one specifically. It was frequent in the rotation.)

7. Our Lady Peace - Clumsy (I listened to this one, a lot. Angry, angsty, whiny, confused…it spoke to me)

8. Big Shiny Tunes 1 & 2 (Both of these comps encapsulate my 13 year old musical self and it is faster to list these compilation than all the albums individually). From BST 1: Marilyn Manson, Fun Loving Criminals, I Mother Earth to name a few and from BST 2: Blur, Prodigy, Semisonic, Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth, Bran Van 3000, Holly McNarland & Sugar Ray all bring me back 20 years in the first 3 seconds the songs start. These alternative rock songs are the notes of my adolescence and I only associate them with that time period.)

9. Romeo & Juliet Soundtrack (I loved this movie: the contemporary spin on the classic love tragedy, the danger, the awesome sets and costumes, the…Leo. What can I say, in 1996 Leo was a heartthrob and this soundtrack was da bomb! Cardigans, Garbage, Radiohead, Butthole Surfers and the beautiful track by Des'ree Kissing You <sob sob> I want to listen to this again right now!)

10. Groundswell - Wave of Popular Feeling (Norwood folks will remember Groundswell, the indie alternative grunge rock darlings of our small town, part of whom went on to form Three Days Grace. I lost my copy of the CD, but I still have the case. If anyone can burn me this CD, I would be extremely grateful. Pre-internet, non-label release, so you can’t find it anywhere. I’m not going to lie, I liked this sound so much more than the direction they went under Chad Kroegers thumb.)

Honourable Mentions (Individual Songs): The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony, Fiona Apple - Criminal, Meredith Brooks - Bitch, plus Tom Petty (anything) - My first major concert was to see Tom Petty at the Molson Amphitheatre when I was 14!  My appreciation for classic rock accelerates as I move on to Grade 10. TBC.

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