I am a mélomane (from the French, not to be pretentious but because there is really no word in English that accurately portrays as well the meaning of the word): someone who really loves music. One who is unhappy, even emotionally clogged without listening to it daily. These individuals listen to many types of music and know all types of bizarre and seemingly trivial information about artists and songs. I am one of these people.
Another thing about me: I came of age in what I consider to be one of the better eras of music. I was nine at the dawn of the 90s. “What was so great about the 90s?” you ask. Here are a few things:
Buying music was still an active, rather than passive, activity. We still had to go somewhere and buy it as opposed to download it. CDs and CD players were still relatively new and not everyone had them. CDs were my main motivation for babysitting. When I was sixteen the main part of my Christmas loot was the Smashing Pumpkins box set. Not only do I still remember that Christmas, I consider it one of the best Christmases I ever had.
In the 90s it was OK to use allusion in songs. It was typically the case that no one had any idea what someone was talking about exactly, and that was OK. Sometimes it was the case that no one had any idea what someone was talking about at all and still the song went on to be huge. This doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I prefer to be able to fill in the blanks for myself.
I came of age in an era of really strong women. These women were at times vulgar, but more than that they were strong and independent. I’m talking about Liz Phair, Tracy Bonham, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, Beth Gibbons of Portishead, Fiona Apple, Bjork, The Donnas, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead, Juliana Hatfield, PJ Harvey, Veruca Salt, and of course Tori Amos. I consider myself lucky to have had them as the soundtrack to my adolescence.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the men who I listened to (and still listen to) who no doubt shaped me: Cracker, Cursive, Archers of Loaf, the Cure and later Interpol. Chapel Hill’s own Mayflies USA, the Afghan Whigs, Ben Folds [Five], and Dinosaur, Jr. Witty and fallible, smart and often vulnerable, these men very often showed me what I should be and also what I should look for (not someone famous, but rather someone multi-dimensional).
It is often the case that I’ll mention an artist or song at work and my younger co-workers will look at me blankly and then say, “I don’t know who that is.” I often feel old but then get over it. I feel sad that not everyone knows what I know, because my musical education is a good one and not one I would want to be without.