Evolution of a Music Enthusiast, the B Side
Or, a timeline set the soundtrack of my life, the 90s (and before)

1988 I make my first call in to a radio station (Q103.5 before it went country) to request a song. This is a big deal. I’ve never called someone outside of family or friends. I practice what I’m going to say to the DJ, and my mom makes me write down “Opposites Attract by Paula Abdul” on a pad of paper by the phone so I won’t forget the reason I called in the first place. I spell it “Apasits Atract.” I listen all night, but they never play my song.

1990 My friend Jennifer gives me The Immaculate Collection for my eighth birthday. My mom is not impressed with titles such as “Like a Virgin” and “Papa Don’t Preach” and makes me exchange it. I choose MC Hammer’s Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em instead, but hold a grudge until college, when I finally buy Madonna’s iconoclastic album for myself.

1991 I’m introduced to the concept of cussing when I hear my first swear words in “Ice, Ice Baby.” My aunt and her boyfriend buy me a New Kids on the Block poster for my birthday. It’s my first poster of a band, but I’m embarrassed, because NKB’s popularity is waning, and my friends will all think I’m so uncool for putting up a poster of the band that was so last year. We exchange the poster for a Vanilla Ice sweatshirt (in April), which I wear about three times in the fall because by then Vanilla Ice’s career has melted.

1992 The Brooks family buys a new van. It has a CD player rather than a tape player. We call it our CD player on wheels, since it’s the only place we can play the three new CDs we have: the Beatles’ Revolver, Hooked on a Beatles Tribute (a Beatles cover group), and the sample disk that came with the vehicle to explain how a CD player works. That summer we drive out to California from Kansas, listening to Beatles the whole way, and changing the lyrics of “Yellow Submarine” to “We all live in a green minivan…”

1994 My new church camp friends and I sing Ace of Base’s “Don’t Turn Around” non-stop all week, and I realize for the first time that the songs my friends and I listen to in Manhattan are also being played on the airwaves across Kansas and Missouri. I don’t know why this wasn’t more obvious before.

1995 I realize the power of lyrics to move the soul for the first time when I hear TLC’s “Waterfalls.” With the earnestness only a teenager can exude, I plead with my mom to appreciate the potent message in the lines, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and lakes that you’re used to.” She’s unfazed, and I just can’t understand why she doesn’t see the beauty in the message TLC is singing. I must be blessed with a higher appreciation of music.

1996 I learn that my middle school crush listens to country, and now the only station I tune my radio to is B104.7. I latch onto the song “Rebecca Lynn” because it mentions his name. I quickly grow tired of the music, but it takes me a little longer to grow tired of the boy. I realize that liking his music isn’t going to make him like me—a lesson I’ll have to learn several times.

1997 I quit piano lessons because my new teacher wants me only to concentrate proper Classical piano music, but all I really want to learn is Pachelbel’s Canon in D. She says that Canon in D was written for strings, and that I will be playing piano music. I respond by saying, “Wrong, I don’t be playing any music.”

1999 My first boyfriend mentions that he thinks I’m cuter than Christina Aguilera (this is during her “Genie in a Bottle” phase). Part of me doesn’t believe him, but another part of me will always feel an edge over the platinum blonde pop star.

1999-2000 I supplement my nighttime chats on AIM with friends (my parents let me stay up late to play on the internet!) with monitoring the radio station through my dad’s huge stereo. When I hear the telltale notes of a favorite song, I race to the stereo to press record and add to one of my mix tapes. I feel particularly cool when the Prom Queen and I drive off campus for lunch one day, the mix playing Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” followed by Eve 6’s “Inside Out” and she tells me what a great mix tape I’ve put together.

The second installment of "Evolution of a Music Enthustiast" to come soon.

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