I came to popular music late, something which affects my relationship with it, though I can’t tell you exactly how. Mom was pretty religious and a homebody. She liked listening to hymns, church music, and Through The Bible Hour. Dad liked old style country. Mostly Johnny Horton played on repeat. Neither of them encouraged me to engage with popular music, and sometimes actively discouraged it. We also had to pinch pennies so I didn’t get my own radio until 1983. I can’t remember why they bought a new family stereo then, but I got the old one. Something on it was probably broken, though I don’t think it was the record player part. I remember using that.
1983 or 1984 is when I first started listening to popular music at all. I started listening to K-PLUS when Kent and Alan started at the station. I remember a big promotional effort touting their new morning show on the station. I listened to Rick Dees weekly Top 40. Being the OCD person I am, I listed the songs played on that show religiously. If I missed a week for some reason, I would fill in the blanks in subsequent weeks when Dees announced that a song had moved up or down X slots.
K-PLUS and (as it later became) Z-101.5 was my only real exposure to music. Maybe a little bit of K-JET that my ride Craig Adams played in the car when he drove to school my last year of high school. Then I went off to college, and Idaho was a wasteland of music. One Top 40 station, one classic rock station, and other stuff I never payed attention to. I listened to a lot of hair bands.
Anyway, the point of all this is I don’t have a lot of memories of music. So when Donna Summers died today and Facebook exploded with people remembering her music from their childhoods, I don’t get to participate. This happens to me lot. I have little in the way of nostalgic associations for any music.
My connection to songs continues to be ephemeral. I started going to clubs in 1999 and listening to a lot more music. But most of the music only stays in the present. I recognize a lot of the songs played because they’ve been played so often, but I couldn’t tell you who recorded them. Oooh, that’s familiar and catchy, I need to get out on the dance floor. I still have a predilection for catchy and dance-able music. If the song doesn’t have a great hook, the chances of me liking it diminish quite a bit.
Unlike other people, I don’t have the radio on all the time as background at home. My stereo and giant speakers were taking up space for no real reason, so I finally got rid of them a few years ago.
I’m also quite ambivalent about my lack of attachment to music. Sometimes I think I’m really missing out, so I’ll make an effort to listen and understand. And lots of times it just seems like a lot of effort and a waste that I don’t feel bad foregoing.