Rock music was a revelation to me when I was in high school. I’d spent my formative years as a child listening to oldies and Broadway musicals (a fact to which my natural songwriting inclinations and many of my conversational quirks attest to this day), and I was enraptured by this new, exciting music.
Every year at our spring high school choir concert,the seniors in the choral program would arrange a pop or rock song to be sung a cappella to commemorate their graduation. My freshman year, the seniors did Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” and I was blown away—from the DOW-DOW bass line to the beatboxing to the syncopated soprano “wing”s after every “Don’t you...forget about me (WING! WING!)” I fell in love instantly and for keeps.
But the thing about falling in love with songs when I was in high school was that there was no easy way to figure out what they were or to obtain them once I had done that. Napster didn’t roll around until the summer after my junior year. Internet was still dial-up. So although now I can type whatever lyrics I can remember (the odder, the better) into a search engine or go to a site like midomi or use the SoundHound or Shazaam! app on my iPhone, when I was in high school, if I heard a song I loved and I didn’t know what it was called, I went into a low-level panic. I was instantly hooked and I had to hear it again and I had no way of finding out how to do that. I certainly couldn’t just ASK the seniors; they were like minor deities in my eyes. I was not worthy.
And the other thing is, even if I'd managed to work up the gumption to ask what the song was, iTunes and youtube didn't exist yet, so in order to listen to a song again, I’d have to buy a whole CD which usually contained eleven tracks I did not want to listen to and only one I did. Nevertheless, my mom was incredibly kind about going out of her way to take me to Tower Records on those occasions when I got a musical bug in my bonnet. It was probably the desperation in my half-crazed eyes that sealed the deal—her sweet little music freak of a daughter just might combust without that new song.
And in the interest of full disclosure, this was still not Coltrane or U2 or [insert name of actual cool band here, since I still don’t listen to much of what the mainstream defines that way]. This was the soundtrack to A Very Brady Sequel or The Blues Brothers 2000.
But hey, man…whatever makes you happy, right?