How’s that title to start your day? Good luck getting it out of your head! I had to look up those crazy cats again because the only line I could remember was “We are Siamese if you please. We are Siamese if you don’t please.” Those are still the greatest lines but let me tell you, those bitches are mean.
There’s something about lyrics like “We are Siamese if you don’t please,” that transport you back to another time, another place, another body–one with less hair and fewer worries. I’m thinking that first rhythmic drum beat and base guitar combo at the start of “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World. And Sugar Ray singing, “Every morning there’s a hale-lot (sic) hanging from my girlfriend’s vote crossed bed…” (Which I now know are “halo” and “four post,” respectively.)
Like Jakob Dylan trying to sound British; the piano riff at the start of “All My Life” by Kaci and Jojo; the speaking parts of “Barbie Girl”; and me singing Savage Garden in 5th grade, staring out a window like I had a lover to sing about. There are time-traveling powers to listening your favorite Hanson brother own a chorus (Zack, duh). I hear “No Scrubs” and I’m suddenly back picturing my dweeby blue shirt, blue-pantsed, buck-shoed male classmates all over again–“Ya live at home wit ya momma…” No, literally.
If I catch “Where My Girls At” by 702 I feel like I’m riding home from softball practice covered in both dirt and the shame of being slightly below mediocre at softball. “Gone” by NSYNC and I’m at a middle school dance debating whether or not I am ready to “make out” with my boyfriend yet.
Music is important to almost everyone I’m close with. Mary Colleen Buettner is maybe the only exception, but she has lots of other great qualities. The thing about your childhood music, though, is how it imprints on you. It leaves marks and lessons and the most indelible memories. A few years ago, Alice, Caitlin and I went to a Backstreet Boys and Hanson concert. We became eleven year olds. It was magical. I wanted a choker necklace and Steve Maddens with stretchy band tops and chunky soles and a boy with a blonde bowl cut.
One explanation I have is for this phenomenon is that music can be one’s first taste of having an identity. I remember it being a big deal when Aubrey got the Neil Diamond Greatest Hits cassette and I got Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill.” As if I was no longer just Amanda. I was now “Amanda who likes Alanis,” and this is my sister, “Aubrey who likes Neil.”
Liking a music artist went beyond purple as a favorite color or that your favorite food was pizza. Besides, everyone’s favorite color was purple and everyone loved pizza. That didn’t make you special. But music was a whole new world (Yes, I, too, am thinking of Aladdin). You had choices. And likes and dislikes could say things about you. Through those sounds and words and foundation-covered faces, you could now select who you were by which CDs you chose from those Thirty CDs for a Penny clubs.
Then music transformed into a way to connect with friends. You could be a Backstreet type or an NSYNC gal–we were mostly both. Then, listening to those songs thousands of times in a row became a replacement for a comfort object. Ditch the teddy and the blanket for Lance and Justin. They were, after all, singing to us and we didn’t know Lance was gay back then. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t picked out their own outfits, let alone written a single word of their music. They were ours and we were each going to marry one of them. I would have prayed for you if you and one of your friends liked the same one–that was a non-starter.
Then, like many things, as a teenager music becomes a method of rebellion. You can pretend you’re “unique” and chose your own tastes. But it’s just because they’ll slightly upset the adults around you.
We all cycled through this until we finally started to actually like the music we like. The thing is, when I hear those old songs I can’t decide whether I love them because of what they make me think of or if I actually liked them all along. Regardless, it is entertaining to go back and listen. Below you will find actual lyrics from 3LW’s “No More (Baby I’ma Do Right).” I will let them close out this piece the classy way they do. And before you say, “Oh no, not me, I don’t know that song, I’d never listen to that” verify here and see below where I’ve bolded the very best part.
“Yo Yo Yo
A yo, you promised me Kate Spade
But that was last year
Boy in the eighth grade
And you ain’t biggie, baby boy
So it ain’t one more chance
When your friends around u don’t wanna hold my hand
And now you see a girl stylin’ and wildin’ inside the mix
Hoppin out the whips, the whips, the 5, the 6
Yes fly chrome, so pardon my tone
Here go a quarter, go call Tyrone”