The Music Threads in the Tapestry of My Life
How music infiltrates my life, my memories and my debut novel
Growing up, I always thought music was the language my family spoke. Or at least it seemed that way to me when I was ten, jamming out to Chicago, Journey, Pat Benatar or Queen with my dad. Or singing harmonies with my sister along to my mom’s music of ABBA, The Everly Brothers, and John Denver. Car trips, of which there were quite a few, were moments of finely tuned balance between the music of my parents and everyone’s sanity.
My dad made sure we had the latest in music equipment. We had a eight track player ensconced in a wooden cabinet that left around the time I was 8 or 9 years old. A large record player with an AV receiver replaced it. My sister had the infamous ’80s ladybug record player, removing the wings to play the 45s and 33s she convinced my dad to buy.
I remember the first time I heard Bohemian Rhapsody — she played it in her room over and over again, the operatic murmuring rising and falling before the guitars took over. And then beast of all beasts, my dad brought home a double cassette tape player. We had that the rest of my home-based life, and a record collection that never got played after it arrived.
We were the original MTV generation, spending hours watching videos and marveling at the ingenuity of it all. I remember being twelve years old, on a Friday night, breathlessly waiting with six of my closest friends for the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. There was a lot of screaming when it did and none of it because it was scary.
My first concert was Barry Manilow at age ten with my mom. I fell asleep, lulled by the dulcet tones of his voice. My second concert was at Summerfest in Milwaukee at age sixteen, dancing and jamming out to PIL, The Sugar Cubes and New Order. That concert had more than one layer of emotion running beneath and through it. I still feel good about it, even though the darkness of that day was what we escaped to attend it.
New Order’s Elegia became the anthem of my teenage sorrows and emotionally heavy home life. I played it on repeat; it still kicks me in the gut if I listen to it when I’m sad. The Eurythmics were (and still are) my favorite band. They are on the list…