Sunday, September 20, 2009

Returning to one's Roots

I took a sort of 'walk down memory lane' this evening.

Musically, that is. No, don't worry, I won't mention Madness here; this is actually about what my life was musically before I'd even heard the chorus of "Our House" the first time and was hooked.

Note: This post might be long due to the videos and details.

It started out with my mother's videotapes. My mother would record music videos onto video tapes, from MuchMusic. I think her tapes go back to 1987. Anyway I'd watch them with her as a young child in the 1990s and I'd grow up listening to those music videos. I don't remember every song on them (there were practically hundreds) but there were some I liked. One of them I can remember is "D'you Know what I Mean?" by Oasis. I remember the video had a lot of ruined buildings, helicopters, and colored smoke.

Another was this weird song called "Damn I wish I was your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins. Not a bad song but the weirdest music video I'd seen.

One I did like quite a bit was "At the Hundredth Meridian," by the Tragically Hip, which is actually a Canadian band. The video was in monochrome, filmed in 1991 I believe, with hanging trees, people, and ladders, etc. while the band played on rocky ground. I'd put the video here but the original video's embedding is disabled on YouTube.

These video clips my mother had (as well as MuchMusic interviews, I remember fastforwarding an old one of Madonna when I was nine or so), and the music I heard at my father's was what I grew up with. When I stayed at my dad's as a kid, he would always play international music from places like Africa as well as reggae and Jamaican music. He'd stayed in Africa throughout the 1990s and he'd brought back some pretty good music. I never listened to the lyrics; they were in a different language. But the music itself was good. That, Jamaican reggae, and the pop music my mother recorded I credit for my current taste in the music I talk about all the time - ska, reggae, and pop, or a blended fusion of those perpetrated by my favorite band, Madness.

Coming back to the roots here, the first song I ever went crazy for was by British Artist Robbie Williams. I remember the morning I heard the song "Millenium." The channel YTV was on and they used to have a music show called the Hit List. It's not on anymore (none of the shows I watched as a child are on YTV anymore). I couldn't believe the string section or Williams' backup voice. The music video had a lot of golden curtains in it, that's what I remember. As well as Robbie Williams attempting to use a jetpack in a feild:

Nowadays it just looks quite silly to me. Apparently it's attempting to mimick the James Bond series.

When I say I took a walk down memory lane this evening, I mean that I decided to revisit these old music videos. YouTube is an awesome source for all this old stuff. After Millenium, my mother recorded this song by Hanson called "Where's the Love." Again, I loved the song. I watched out for it on the radio. It was huge in 1997. I was six. At that age I didn't understand nor comprehend the lyrics (they had high-pitched, inarticulated voices back then). I still enjoyed the song itself, even though I thought it was sung by girls. That and "MMMbop."

Comparing the songs from when I listened to them as a small boy to now as a young adult, the effect is very different. For instance, like I said, "Millenium" is a great song, very polished, but the video seems just very silly, even corny. There are some funny moments with Williams trying to launch himself out of a field with a jetpack, but otherwise the interested stares at the camera and the chuckles and winks make me go "tcha!" On Wikipedia is says that it was based on the James Bond movie franchises. Oh yeah.

For Hanson, again, the songs are great. Musically they're awesome. But like I said, the voices of the three brothers, especially the drummer, are really quite high-pitched. I really used to think they were girls, with their long hair and soft features. Of course they were only 12, 14, and 17 years old at the time. Sometimes though, the drummer in particular can sound almost daunting.

The videos themselves were well-done, though. I used to get extremely excited at the scene when the three of them were on the moon in the video for "MMMbop," with the Earth in the background. Hence my current obsession with aerial photos and heights and the like. In the late nineties I got a clock-radio for Christmas. Every night when I went to sleep, in the days before I turned my bedroom light off, I'd turn the radio on while going to sleep. I'd listen to the music while I dreft off.

Eventually I'd come across two interesting choruses, and I'd hear both of them in due time, becoming a huge fan of the people behind one of the choruses and an interested listener in the people behind the other chorus - "Our House," and "Rio," respectively. I think after that I also gained and interest in 80s music, and I'd fall in love with the decade, with the nineties coming second and the 70s coming third.

So yeah, it was interesting going onto YouTube and looking up old songs I originally heard for the first time when I was six or seven on a videotape my mother had of countless music videos. That's where it all originated - as well as the fun dance beat of the colorful reggae music my father and I would dance to in his apartment on Frank street downtown, in the olden days of childhood innocence.

-Justin C.

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