The Art of Serendipity – 12/22/20 8:07 pm- 9:15 pm
I was 13 years old; a young adolescent boy who needed an escape, a fantasy, an outlet to quietly vent my frustration and lack of emotional currency. The refuge I chose was becoming an avid music listener. As an only child of a lower middle class single mother, this was an obvious solution. It gave me a perspective that was not possible through daily reality. The words that would increase my reading and writing proficiency, the sounds that would enhance my creative and mathematical intake. I had casual exposure to music for a year or two prior through radio and television, but it was in the Spring of 1997 where I became enthralled with passion.
The former music network VH1 had a weekly show called “Top 10 Countdown”. It was a by-product of the Billboard Chart, a means by which the most commercially accessible music was deemed a success or a failure. Each week they would select ten tracks and count them down from 10 to 1, playing the song to an accompanying music video, of which I had encountered limited exposure to this point. I found it interesting that the network highlighted their selections as a way of pre social media branding. Their chart, while accommodating the popular songs at the time, was geared towards a pop rock/mainstream alternative audience. By the Summer, I had purchased my first compact disc (CD) and begun to build my collection. Additionally, I did something far less costly. I purchased a 500 page notebook and began to create my own chart of weekly Top 10 songs. This was the most memorable Summer of my childhood/youth for multiple reasons. When I was not playing board games, video games, or basketball with my friends, I spent a remarkable amount of time fascinated with the FM radio, which provided the largest scope of music accessibility in this period for me to broaden my indulgence. I started to imagine what it would be like to make music.
The following year rival MTV would come out with their own version of Top Hits. Originally known as Total Request Live, this was an abbreviated show (30 minutes instead of an hour), but it was a daily occurrence Monday-Friday. Another difference was that the countdown order was determined by fan votes instead of a panel of producers. This created a different niche audience, one geared toward generic pop music with a splash rap/hip hop and hard rock mixed in. By the end of 1998 the show was completely revamped as the trendy “TRL” which would be the standard for the remainder of the decade for influencing what was “hot” in music culture. I continued on with my own version until 2004. By then my musical tastes had gravitated from pop and rap to rock and alternative. Now at 21 being a young adult, attending community college, holding various odd jobs, and attempting to be socially normal or at least acceptable, I retired that part of my life and dabbled in various facets of alternative culture whenever possible.
Sadly, nothing amounted from those years. I look back now and felt as if I lived a double life; the other being an amateur gambler starting in 2005. It was an odd identity to be at odds with capitalism some days, and in bed with it others. The one constant in the 15 years since had been my near religious devotion to music listening. It is like the brother I never had. We haven’t always gotten along, and it certainly has not been there for me when I needed it the most, but we have always gotten over our differences and I realize this is the strongest bond I have with any of my Spiritual Entertainment vessels. We are blood until death. In fact I might decide to call it a life if my hearing fails me. I can’t fathom an existence without music, it is essential to my well being, my sanity, my consciousness. Perhaps you are wondering why I am just a fan. This is not as mysterious as it may seem, but it is a complexity that I ponder often. I plan to use this blog to chronicle my past, present, and hopefully future music journey. Listen Long and Prosper.