Electric Raspberry

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  • I remember when my parents first got itunes. I was about 10 or 11. Before then, music had always meant something to me, but it had never belonged to me.

    Music was Frank Sinatra while my Mother boiled pasta and diced tomatoes. It was afternoons at my Nana’s house, looking through photos and listening to her old radio. Before music became downloadable, it was something I borrowed from those around me. It was a second-hand pleasure that was afforded to me by the adults who raised me, who loved it in their own way. But when songs became accessible to me in my own right, the world seemed a little bit bigger. That may seem naive and ridiculous, but I swear it’s true. It was one of the first times I realized that in my adult life I would pick and choose my tastes. Things wouldn’t be chosen for me, and every small thing I selected or decided upon would weave together and become a facet of who I am.

    I’d spend hours at the computer, searching through genres, and listening to new artists. I’d download song after song and burn disk after disk. I felt as though I owned what I was listening to. Not in a tangible way- of course I owned it in a tangible way, I spent 99 cents on every song. But in a metaphorical way as well. I felt as though my thoughts were being spoken back to me, and sharing the music I listened to, felt a lot like a violation- like passing out copies of my journal. It wasn’t until I was a little bit older, that I discovered the second truth about appreciating music. A boy made me a mix cd when I was 15. It was the first time a guy had ever given me something like that. I’d had girlfriends who I’d burn disks for, but that felt different. He told me things without saying anything, and he did it all through other people. He showed me what he liked and disliked, his range of feeling, his feelings toward me and toward life in general. It was a stupid CD but it meant the world to me, and I coveted it. I realized then, that I’d been locking up the artists I loved because I was terrified of hearing other people judge them or spoil them for me. I hadn’t taken into account the idea of a positive result. I hadn’t stopped to think about what it would mean to share thoughts with someone, without having to actually “share thoughts” with someone. From then on songs became a way of measuring time and bookmarking events in my life. The song that played when I kissed my crush—sophomore year of high-school, the music his band played, the songs I listened to when my heart was broken or when I’d broken someone else’s. The music I’ve listened to in the car with windows rolled down and sunshine beaming in. The vinyl collection my uncle left behind. Then the songs I used to drown out sadness or worry—to fill a vastness and an emptiness that strikes all of us at one time or another. The music that has carried me and stood next to me like a familiar face I’ve come to know.  

    I guess I just hadn’t realized ‘til now what I’ve learned about the artists and songs I listen to. How they’ve shaped me and how they’ve grown along with me.


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