Posted by GIRL'S GONE CHILD | Thursday, November 09, 2006
I used to be a lot cooler. I studied obscure bands and had a vested interest in all things rock. I wiggled my way into conversations with wacked-out people who might enlighten me with original life-experience. I made their stories my own. I knew the back-doors of the right bars. I knew how to crash Oscar parties and get in to sold out shows. My hair was always black or red or platinum blonde. Always short and styled in some kind of sideways-headband concoction. I spent every night at live-music venues and dive bars, tipping back vodka tonics, shooting pool. I made mix CD's for all my friends, introducing them to the hottest new bands. I went to all of the festivals in Europe and America. I spent much of my time becoming familiar with international indie-rock. I made friends with the bands and even went on tour with some rockers I met while traveling. From Bristol to Newcastle, tagging along in the back of the van, straddling an amp, hair tangled in the plug-in wires, like some kind of Medusaesque roadie. (Better than hitchhiking, no?)
My wardrobe was made up of band tees and jeans, big earrings and heavy eye-makeup. I was a groupie, but not in the obvious sense. I liked to watch from the back of the room, the back of the bus, the back of the venue. I was cooler that way.
My friends and I took road trips to San Francisco and the dessert and to secret shows. We'd go and sing along to all the songs. Sometimes when a band was really good, we'd even cry. (*cough* Low *cough*)
When I met my husband I was a little sad we didn't have the same/similar taste in music. He's a trained classical musician and always thought my "three-chord-rock" was well, "three chord rock."
He was never into my music collection or knowledge or dresser-drawer of ticket-stubs.
But it didn't matter. I had always listened to the music that moved me. Made me feel. Think. Dance. And some of the greatest moments in my life have been slathered in "three-chord" indie-rock ballads and "three chord" feel-good dance-tunes.
Saturday night I went out with some friends. Dinner and drinks. Chatter. People watching. My cousin was visiting from San Francisco and we met up with some other old friends who just moved to L.A.
"Let's go somewhere cool, Bec!"
"Okay! I'd love to!"
It was silent.
"Oh. I don't know what's cool anymore," I said.
"Hmm. Well we can go somewhere uncool, too. That's fine."
"Okay, good. I'm clueless these days. I don't really go out anymore, you know.
As the only person in my group of friends (and family) with a child, this is often shocking to hear and I have to admit, sometimes shocking to say. If you would have quoted my now-self to my four-years-ago self (when all of these photos were taken) I would have laughed, rolled my eyes and then gone back to digging through bargain bins at Amoeba.
Today I realized that the last time I even purchased an album was over a year ago. The new Cat Power in support of my wacked-out girl-crush.
While out on the town with my people I was approached by an old friend.
"It's been FOREVER!"
"I know it!"
"How's the baby."
"He's good. And you?"
"Good! Very good! This is my boyfriend so-and-so and we're just about to go see The So-And-So Band at the El Rey."
"Yeah. You know... The So-And-So?"
I shook my head. "I've never heard of them."
Her eyes went wide and then she shrugged. Her boyfriend gave me the "you're so not cool" eyes and I felt myself curling at the edges like an old photograph.
"I haven't really kept up with the music scene. I'm super busy and..."
"Well, they're really good. You should check them out. You know, if you have time or whatever."
"Yeah. Okay. Have a fun show."
They turned and walked off in their skinny jeans and skinny ties and tapered jackets and visible tattoos, leaving me alone on the pavement wrapped in my pashima. I felt like a hipster bomb exploded, leaving me, a sore-thumb IN A FREAKING pashima on Sunset amidst the ashes of Parliament Lights and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
I may as well have tattooed MOM on my forehead. I was a tourist in my own town. I was on the outside. And even if I wanted to back into a corner with my cigarettes and my sunglasses, it was too dark, too late, too different.
Eventually the student becomes the teacher. The cool kids sell-out, or settle down or don't have time for their old lives, but I don't want to end up alone without my soundtrack. I don't want to end up one of the people who don't have time so just this morning, I tuned in to Pandora. I revisited Sunny Say Real Estate and Tindersticks and Stratford 4 and Matt Pond PA and Looper and Mojave 3 and The Delgados and all of my favorite bands and let Pandora introduce me to the new stuff I've been missing out on over the past three years. (Thanks for the reminder, David and HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my brilliant, beautiful brother.)
Because regardless if I'll ever be as cool as I used to (think) I was, there is always time for record stores and college radio. Because it's important to me. Music isn't just something else to hear. Music is a big part of my life, er it was, I should say, BUT I'm ready to rock again. I may have grown out my hair and outgrown my party-girl days but not my boombox taped with band stickers.
Just because I have a child doesn't mean I can't be independent. Just because I'm a mother doesn't mean I should hide my favorite punk-rock CD's from the stereo and tune in to Classical KUSC every single-dingle day. It's all about the mix and what sounds good.
Growing up doesn't mean growing out of your favorite shoes, not if they make you happy, not if they're good for dancing.
I may not have the hair or the wardrobe or know where the back-door bars are or have insider information anymore, but I still want to rock out. With my tattooed kid as my dance-partner and my decaf coffee and the uncensored content of life.
Because life is all about the mix. The deleted tracks and the B-sides and the occasional cover. The remixes and the imports and the bootleg tracks you have to really hunt for.
Go ahead and take my cool, but please let me keep my music.