Tuesday, March 17, 2009

25 Things about Jane: Music and Muzac

Dear Internets,

It's time for me to talk about music. Excuse me while I go hyperventilate for a few minutes...

16. Everyone in 8th grade was more popular than me, whether you were talking about cheerleaders or hippies or flannel-wearing Kurt Cobain devotees. The boy I had a crush on was even in a band (which seemed cool, because I hadn't yet learned the "never, never, never, never, never date a boy with a guitar" rule). As a first chair flutist who took a special advanced math class, I was at the absolute bottom of the social totem pole. I lived in fear of being noticed.

When we were discussing the themes of "The Pearl" in English class, my teacher Ms. Roy thought it would be a fun idea for each of us to bring our own "song of life" to share with the class. I was terrified. None of my friends were in fourth period English with me. I was just the invisible girl who sat in the back corner. This assignment would ensure I'd be visible, and not in a good way.

I had been saving my $5 a week allowance for a horse (how I made it into an advanced math class is beyond me), so I owned exactly one tape: a Randy Travis album that I'd been given for Christmas. With a great deal of trepidation, I stuck it in my backpack and tried to forget about the assignment.

A week later, our songs were "due." I decided to wait until the absolute end of class, in hopes that we'd run out of time and I wouldn't have to play my song. I could just write it down for my teacher and no one would ever have to know what I wrote.

The three most popular boys played their songs first: Smells Like Teen Spirit, Black Hole Sun, Smells Like Teen Spirit. We slowly made our way through the rest of the class' songs. Shoop, Regulate, The Sign, Yellow Submarine. I began to sweat. There was no way I was going to be able to play a three year old country song. Everyone was so much cooler than me.

I had one last hope: Lucy, a cheerleader who got away with listening to country music because of her freakishly good looks. She put her tape in the teacher's stereo.

"You sayyyy, I only hear what I want to..."

Lisa Effing Loeb. I was doomed. I hid the Randy Travis tape deep in my backpack.

A small enclave of tie-dyed neo-hippies sat near my corner of the room. Caroline (Sweet Caroline, of course) turned around. "What song did you bring?" she asked.

"Um..." I said. "I forgot to bring one."

"You wanna borrow one of my tapes?" Caroline asked. "I brought an extra."

"Yes, please," I said. Relief washed over me. I could temporarily blend in with the hippie kids! It was musical camouflage.

Ms. Roy called my name. I handed her Caroline's tape, unsure of what I would hear. The label said "Best Mix Tape!!" so there was really no telling.

"Um..." I said. "I like this song because it reminds me of how I like to live my life." Caroline shot me a worried glance and I quickly sat down.

The song began playing. It was "Helter Skelter," by the Beatles. Ms. Roy gave me a Look and asked me to stay after class.

She ended up giving me one of those lectures that you kick yourself for later, thinking of all of the comebacks you could have used, if only you had balls (and the ability to think on your feet). I would get a zero, she said, for not taking a simple assignment seriously. We didn't have many assignments this six weeks, so my grade average would be much lower than usual. I needed to learn to be more responsible.

I made my first "C" that six weeks ("In ENGLISH?" my mother shrieked. "No daughter of mine gets a 'C' in ENGLISH.") and was grounded for a month. I never forgave Ms. Roy.

17. In a way, I feel like people define you by the music you like, so I have always answered the "what type of music do you like?" question rather awkwardly.

Really, I like just about everything. I don't like to go to live punk shows (inevitably, some jerkface always decides to start moshing in the back and ends up knocking me over), but I really like just about everything. Sometimes the adult soft rock that gets played at most office buildings makes me want to punch a DJ, but I think that's just because it's hard for me to concentrate when music is playing in the background. (It could also be that the same three Maroon 5 songs get played 26 times in four hours, but we may never know.)

Favorite songs over the years have been varied: I had a bit of a Jewel problem for a few months in high school, but that didn't stop me from jumping up to dance when "California Love" came on the radio. In college, I went through a phase where I listened to Chet Baker's "Everything Happens to Me" on repeat while crying into a pillow. Through the years I have fallen in love with a hundred different indie rockers who all end up breaking my heart in one way or another. Just when it seems like I'll listen to anything as long as it's depressing, I'll load "Toxic" into my mp3 player and go for a run.

I'm really all over the place. And I think (finally) I'm OK with that.

Happy St Patrick's Day Internets!



Hillary said...

Musically I'm all over the place too. It's cooler that way.

Anonymous said...

I was a flutist and in advanced math too!

And I have to say... getting a C in English is better than playing Randy Travis for the whole class. No seriously, be glad for the C.

(Except I think I kind of like Randy Travis in middle school...)

Diary of Why said...

Oh my gosh! #16 is such an amazingly well told story, and also helps to explain #17 quite niftily.

Gah! Adolescence! I would have had exactly as hard a time with that assignment as you, at that age. I didn't actually "discover" music until college, and then there was no going back.

SavingDiva said...

This post was fantastic...and the "never, never, never, never, never date a boy with a guitar" rule...I'm going to use that...except boys look so cute with guitars! :)

DINKS said...

yup, all over the place here too! although i focus on hip-hop more than the others...

do you watch American Idol by the way?