Thanks to Spotify, I’ve had Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend stuck in my head the past few days. I never owned the album so hearing it on demand is a real treat. As a result, I decided to create an early 90’s alternative playlist.
Listening to music from that time instantly brings me back to my youth. What I miss the most is the absolute fervor I had for music. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved music. But something really special happened during that time; something I can’t quite define other than as an explosion of expression. Maybe it was the sweeping mood of alternative music, particularly that of grunge and the fashion craze of doc martins, flannel shirts, and baby doll dresses… or the dawning of a new decade capping the end of a century. Maybe it was none of these things. Maybe it was just me, a child transitioning into a teenager.
I grew up in the Dallas area, so in 1991 that meant a 12-year old, such as myself, was constantly listening to the Mecca of radio stations (amongst my peers, anway)… 94.5 KDGE The Edge. If I wasn’t tuned in to the radio, I was buried deep within my own rotation: Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, Pearl Jam’s Ten, Morrissey’s Your Arsenal, and some later additions such as The Cranberries’ Everybody Else is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?, The Lemonheads’ It’s a Shame About Ray, Counting Crows’ August and Everything After… I could go on and on. I didn’t own a CD player, which was still out of my family’s price range, but I did have a walkman cassette player. My memberships to Columbia House and BMG gave me access to a plethora of albums, er… cassettes. I spent entire summers physically attached to a set of headphones. One of my hobbies at the time (aside from loading up on ear candy) was making collages out of the band clippings from aforementioned catalogs as well as my collection of Sassy magazines.
When my uncle (about 10 years my senior) called from just outside of the Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum to tell me he could hear Counting Crows playing, I cried because I was too young for club entry. When Kurt Cobain died in ‘94, I cried some more and wore black the whole week.
This was the time I began songwriting. I hummed melodies and could hear chord progressions in my mind’s ear (I didn’t own a guitar or even play yet). I kept a journal-like notebook filled with lyrics. I fell in deep with music.
And here I am, twenty years later, longing for the youthful passion I once had. I suppose it’s remained with me in some fashion; I did eventually play my own shows in Deep Ellum and recorded my own (although be it more poppy than what I’m now comfortable with) album. But these days I’m busy with school and haven’t touched my guitar since my late August show. No, I take that back; I did pick it up to move it out of the way so I could sweep the floor yesterday.
Seems I have a little searching to do. And a little guitaring do to as well.