So I was over on the Twitterz hitting people up for ideas for today’s Fangirl Friday and my buddy PnV mentioned music and musicians and I was all, hmmmmmmmm.
Tribute to music time.
I’ll preface this by saying that I am a HUGE music fan. HUGE. And yes, I do actually play instruments, though it’s been a long-ass time. I went through a few years of piano lessons and taught myself drums, but never did get to be a rock star. Oh, well.
Music provided respite and comfort for me during the darkest days of the chronic depression I dealt with when I was in my teens and entering adulthood. There were days, then, that I’m not sure I could have weathered without music. I’m in a much better place with my depression now than I ever was then, but music still provides comfort, fun, and sometimes a space to process shitty things.
It’s also the ever-present backdrop to my writing and you can find some of my playlists for projects at Spotify, where I’m known enigmatically as “andimarquette”.
Along those lines, in the chapter notes to the giant-ass epically long Clexa fanfic I recently wrote over at Archive of Our Own I include the names of a few songs that accompanied me with each of them, and one of the things I find interesting is when I go back to my playlists of projects I’ve written over the years, the music will take me immediately right back to that storyline. There are parts of my projects that I can tell you what songs I was listening to even if I don’t do a playlist, so integral is music to expressing myself in terms of writing.
And even if you’re not one of those people who is constantly listening to music or using it during your creative pursuits, no doubt you can remember songs that were popular during different times of your life, and hearing those songs now takes you right back to who you were and what you were doing when those songs were permeating radio airwaves.
The Cranberries were ubiquitous in my music playlists during the early and mid-1990s. O’Riordan’s heart-wrenching vocals could both rip a hole in your soul then soothe the wound she’d left. Most of you are probably familiar with The Cranberries’ smashes “Linger,” “Dreams,” and “Zombie,” but I was more a fan of some of the other songs on their albums that weren’t released to American radio (these were the days before streaming, friends, so radio, clubs, music mags, friends, and TV was where you found out about new tunage).
The Cranberries spoke to my little windswept goth heart, forged in the music crucible of the previous decade. My weird high school misfit (and super gay) self from rural Colorado cut her teeth on bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cocteau Twins, The Cure, The Smiths, U2, Big Country (rest Stuart Adamson’s soul), Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division, Bauhaus, New Order, and Yaz (and omg I am a huge Nena fan).
I will miss Dolores O’Riordan and her often ethereal voice. She was a woman of immense musical talent and losing her this past week made me start thinking not only about those first albums she and The Cranberries released, but also about the music of my past that I still listen to and still apply to some of my writing work.
It wasn’t all goth up in here, either (though I have a thing for it). I liked more pop-ish music, too. Madonna, Wham!, (and then George Michael, rest his soul), Culture Club, Duran Duran, INXS (rest Michael Hutchence’s soul), ’til tuesday, Melissa Etheridge, Tracy Chapman, Sarah McLachlan, 10,000 Maniacs.
And rock. I love rock. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, Tom Petty (rest his soul) and the Heartbreakers, Z.Z. Top.
And I listened to lots of country, folk, and so called “college” (which included bands like REM, Weezer, Radiohead, Phish, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Nirvana)
I also DJ’ed at a local club and a local radio station when I was in grad school, so I love dance, hip-hop, and worldbeat. I also love world music in general, from all parts of the globe. Have you heard of Cesária Évora, for example? No? Get acquainted.
Probably the only music that I don’t listen to is thrash/speed metal, which doesn’t lend itself very well to writing. At least not mine. But if that’s your thing…hey, you do you.
That, my friends, is the beauty of music. There is an endless variety of it that you can hear and/or feel, that can speak to any mood. There’s a reason every human society has had some form of music, whether it’s vocal or instrument-driven. It’s because it’s primal, and it taps into things we might not be able to express fully through traditional ways of communication. Music is something you can both hear AND feel or just FEEL and for me, at least, it’s provided a bridge to parts of myself that I couldn’t reach.
So here are 10 songs that played a role in my life back in the day, when I wasn’t sure who I was, what the hell was going on, and whether there were others in the world like me. Music was a lifeline for me then and in a lot of ways, it still is.