Sunday, October 23, 2005

Time Machine

Last week, I was cruising around on I-Tunes looking for some new music to supplement my running soundtrack. New, for me at least, usually turns out to be a relevant term. As in new to my collection, not new to the music world at large.

I try, I really do try, to go out and get new-new music. In fact, last week I was looking for a song called “Don’t Fail Me Now” by the Magic Numbers, which I-Tunes did not have. I also checked out The Constantines, which were recommended by my friend Dave and The Frames, which my dad read about in Esquire. While I-Tunes did have music from both bands, I wasn’t really inspired by the 20-second clips I was able to sample.

So, what’s a girl was $20 left on a birthday gift certificate and a need for running music to do? Go back to her roots, of course. And so I-Tunes became more of a time machine than a music procurement centre as I sought out the songs I listened to in high school.

I ended up buying a few songs from Joy Division, a couple from Social Distortion and a handful of Cat Stevens. Joy Division reminded me of a mixed tape I used to listen to on the way to meet up with my boyfriend who lived on the East Side (Capitial-E, Capital-S), which for sociopolitical reasons peculiar to Cleveland, was on the other side of the world even though it was only 10 miles away.

Social Distortion reminded me of the skateboard dudes who used to sit by me in German class. They were much cooler than I was, of course, but were nice enough to make tapes for me, in an effort to increase my coolness, I guess.

Cat Stevens might seem an odd accompaniment for Social Distortion and Joy Division but it reminded me of the summer I worked at a sleep-away camp before starting college. My friend at the camp had a boom box and a Cat Stevens Greatest Hits CD. We had more time on our hands than regular counselors and spent it on our bunks, listening to Cat and making lanyards.

We especially liked the song “Father and Son”. One session, a nine-year old camper took umbrage to the words. She asked me “What does that mean ‘you’re young, that’s your fault’? It’s not my fault that I’m young. I’m just young.” I tried to explain to her that I didn’t think he meant it quite like that. More like you’re young and that’s why you’re doing things I disagree with. Her nine-year old sensibilities were well and truly offended, no matter how I tried to justify the words.

The one group that I couldn’t find on I-Tunes during my trip down Memory Lane was The Smiths. I spent many, many, many torturous hours in my room, listening to The Smiths. The fact that I spent so many hours listening to their melancholy songs and managed not to participate in any sort of self-injurious behaviour is something of a miracle.

Yesterday, we went out to the movies and were early, so we took a walk and checked out a music and video shop, one of the few stores open at 9 pm on a Saturday in Dún Laoghaire. I found a Best of The Smiths CD for only € 8.99. Score! Even though I don’t usually buy CDs for myself, I snapped it up.

After importing it into I-Tunes and loading it onto my Shuffle this afternoon, I walked to the grocery store. While taking me back in Ye Olde Time Machine, they also just made me feel old. You know how you feel when you look at a picture of yourself when you were in high school and you thought you looked good, but now you just cringe? You wonder what you were thinking and why you left the house with [fill in the blank of fashionable fad that would now land you right into Glamour’s Don’t column.]

It was a good lesson in perspective. It made me grateful that my teenage years are behind me, although it also made me a little wistful. If only I could go back with what I know now. But the only place I was going was the grocery store, spurred on by a strange little man from Manchester telling me that heaven knows, he’s miserable now.


At 23 October 2005 at 20:12, Blogger Jeannie said...

It is quite strange, stumbling across your blog. I just finished reading a book that had repitious mentions of the Smith's and Morrissey in it. I had never heard of either and had to look them up online to find out if they were real. I probably have heard the music but I was never any good at linking sound to names. I'm sure you care.

At 24 October 2005 at 02:07, Blogger Career Guy said...

I remember taking you to The Cure concert out at the Coliseum and sitting in the "Parents' Room" reading while you were rocking in the amphitheater. You want to talk about feeling old! I appreciate your efforts to increase my coolness factor in re: music.

(PS--the White Sox are tearing things up in Game Two. Are we going with home town pride or National League sentimentality here?)


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